I specialise in garden and plant photography. All my work is out there somewhere, in magazines, books and of course the internet. Here I want to share with you some basic composition know how. Once you have mastered these you will be able to let them sit there in your brain, like a background program chugging away keeping things ticking along nicely so that you can start photographing more intuitively, and crucially have the confidence to experiment and become a story-teller not just a photographer.
So here are a few to get you started...
1 Rule of thirds
Place the key points of your picture at the intersetion of an imaginary grid of 9 boxes on your picture. So in this shot I didn't plonk the flower in the centre. This is a good one to nail. But then allow yourself to break this rule occasionally because all rules and no play make Jack and Jill dull.
2 Depth of field
Look out for your backgrounds. Usually they can be distracting to your main subject, but in this case the points of the leaves lead seductively toward the flower. As there is a huge contrast in colour I have kept the background in focus as there is enoughdifference between the leaves and the flower.
Otherwise, if you have a distracting background, blur it with a narrow depth of field. Set your camera to appature control, and experiment with low f numbers until you get a shot that you are satisfied with - a tripod is handy here to frame your shot perfectly. If you can position yourself to get a lovely background colour which compliments the subject even better. The background here was an ugly concrete wall.
3 Viewpoint or angle
Look at life differently. Crouch down, lie down, climb up, look up, look down, look closer. Find a way of looking at something differently. Here we are looking straight down to see a bean pod being opened and a nice pair of green wellies. So this picture is telling more of a story. The hands are in focus the wellies are thrown out by a narrower depth of field. Whenever you watch a professional photographer working they adopt some very funny positions, I often feel I've done a work out. It's hard work!
4 Leading lines
I have also drawn a line diagonally downwards. This is often called a leading line. It's a natural line you can find in the composition of a picture that draws the viewer into the photograph, it makes it more pleasing to look at.
With this type of shot you are getting close to your subject, so do ask their permission and be bold but polite.
Another tip, if it takes you more than 10-30 seconds to find your angle you haven't got one. Move and think again.
The next one is simple, photographing the berries in a bowl from directly above. Here the interesting trick is the crop. The whole bowl is not in shot and some berries are falling out of shot, it makes you want to know more.
Another interesting view. If I had photographed the screw vertically in the middle of the picture it would have cut it in half and looked awkward so I tilted the camera, stood on a chair and looked over the shoulder of these obliging wine makers. Hands are great in photographs they are as expressive as faces. I didn't ask them to pose, I just shot away.
5 Frame your picture
Look for interesting ways to frame your picture. Looking through doorways, windows, overhanging trees or in this case 2 trees in the foreground are cradling the main subject.
In the next picture I have loosely used depth of field to frame the rose. It looks as though it is being cradled gently in the leaves.
This is what I call them anyway. If you can see this in a picture grab it and thank the photo pixies for their help. The main image is in focus the echo is slightly out, practice using different f numbers to get this and a tripod is very handy otherwise you lose your shot.
However, sometimes a tripod won't work. In this case, to get the shot I had to take a deep breath and hold as still as I could crouched near the ground. I balanced the camera on my knee and used a fast shutter speed by setting a high ISO because I wanted a narrow depth of field. I will be covering this shot and how I took it in another blog. There is a double hit with this shot as some white flowers near the ground also echo the flowers-fairy dust.
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