Composition is key when it comes to taking great photos, but bad habits can creep in. From leading lines to symmetry, our quick refresher will ensure your photos always look fantastic.
Good composition is something you should consider every time you take a photograph. Yet sometimes it can be all too easy to take a quick snap, just to record a moment, and not really consider where you’re placing the different elements within the frame. Taking this approach may work occasionally, but most of the time you’ll get bad images. Sharpen your skills by revisiting some of the golden rules of composition.
1. The Rule of Thirds
This is a classic. Divide your image into vertical and horizontal thirds, and then position your subject on one of these imaginary lines. This rule works for almost any subject and will instantly create a balance to your shots. Your X Series camera can help you with this as well. Go to the SCREEN SET-UP menu and choose FRAMING GUIDELINE > GRID 9. Now go back to the same menu, but this time select DISP. CUSTOM SETTING > FRAMING GUIDELINE. Your EVF and LCD will now have a rule-of-thirds grid superimposed to make it even easier to compose your shots using this rule.
© Bill Fortney
2. Leading lines
When we look at a photograph, our eyes move around the frame to take everything in. If the frame is full of multiple elements, you need to introduce some order. One way to do this is by using leading lines, which ‘lead’ the viewer’s eye into the image. The good news is, there’s a heap of things that can be used to do this. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a line at all; this can be implied rather than an actual line.
Good examples of leading lines are fences, roads, rail tracks, or a river. Equally it could be a line of stones, the edge of a lake, someone’s legs or arms, a color, or even a shadow. Anything, in fact, that takes the eye from one part of an image to another.
Emphasizing the ‘line’ is important and often this can be done by the viewpoint you choose. Crouching down low, for example, so the line is close to the camera in the foreground is a great way of making the most of a leading line. Try coupling this with a wide-angle lens, such as XF16mmF2.8 R WR or XF10-24mmF4 R OIS.
© Seth K Hughes
3. Using Frames
Look for natural or man-made frames in the scenes you’re photographing and include them as part of the composition.
A good example of a natural frame is a tree. If you’re photographing a distant subject and there’s a tree nearby, try using the trunk and its overhanging boughs to frame the subject. In other images, a man-made object, such as an archway or bridge, can have the same effect.
It’s not essential for the frame to cover all four sides of the image, just make sure the frame doesn’t interfere with the subject behind it.
© Ilitch Peters
Symmetry in photography is just the same as it is in math – if you were to draw an imaginary line down the center of an image, the two sides would be exactly the same.
Symmetry is most commonly used in architectural photography, where photographers isolate a particular aspect of a building to create a symmetrical image, or stand in a central position under a bridge to get the span extending into the distance. But there’s no reason why you can’t apply symmetry to portrait images, close-ups, and even landscape shots. And don’t think symmetry has to be vertical; horizontal symmetry also works well – a reflection of a building in water, for example.
© Dan Hogman
5. Odd Numbers
This may seem to contradict our symmetry advice, but it is actually a different compositional trick. When you’re framing multiple subjects, they often look better in odd amounts rather than even. So, for example, three trees instead of two, five people in a group instead of six. It’s a strange compositional truth, but try it – it works!
© Denise Silva
Your Next Steps
- CHALLENGE Go out for a walk with your camera and try to shoot pictures that demonstrate each of these five principles of composition before you get back home. Post your best pictures to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels
- WATCH Check out our video below to learn more about the rule of thirds