Basic Composition

I wanted to share with you what I have learned about photo composition, which I had learned is an important aspect of a great picture. I always see so many friends on Facebook post some amazing pictures, and while taking the course, it was great to learn WHY the picture turns out so great!

Other than a great location or subject, and great color, there are some subtle aspects that make a certain photo stand out more than others.

I will cover some principles that I have learned, and try to use each and every time I shoot.

Rule of Thirds

Have you seen this grid that is on your phone or camera LCD screen? It can usually be turned on or off.

The purpose of this grid is to give you a guide where you should try to place an object in your photo. It has been revealed that aligning an object (or objects) at one or more of the intersecting lines will be more pleasing to the eye, versus then just centering the object or scene you are photographing.

This example below describes what I mean:

This fire lookout is centered, and while looking interesting, it is really the only focal point of the photo.
By using the Rule of Thirds, not only was I able to capture the interesting fire lookout, but I captured it off center, so I was able to capture Mt. Adams on the other grid line and makes this picture more interesting and balanced (in my opinion).

While the vertical lines are more helpful for objects, the horizontal grid lines work well for horizons, mountains, or clouds.


And no….I’m not talking about taking your favorite picture to a shop and getting it framed!

I’m talking about seeing an interesting object, but rather than just photographing it alone, use nearby objects to put a natural frame around the object you are trying to capture! The adds more depth and still will guide your eyes to the main object or focal point.


Rather than just capturing the mountain, I used the trees and stump to make a natural “frame” around it.
I think this picture looks better with the natural “frame” around it, versus just capturing the mountain itself.


Yes, it is true that our eyes like to “follow” things…..and this helps out in photography more than you may have thought.

I have often heard that an “unremarkable” photo is one where when we look at it, our eyes simply don’t know where to go.

Resolve this by using the “leading lines” technique….find a way to allow the viewer’s eyes to naturally follow a line or object into, or across the photograph. I usually like to use trails for this:

Having a “line” to follow may make a picture more interesting! (The above picture also uses the Rule of Thirds technique, can you see it?)

When there is no trail, you can also use clouds:

Or even the flow of water…..

….to help the viewer’s eyes work their way easily through the photo.

I hope this insight on basic composition is helpful. I am passing on this info to help you understand why some photos we see turn out so great, other than just the impressive scenery.

Happy shooting!

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Learn some great hiking and photography tricks, while preserving our amazing wilderness!

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