Fill the Frame
Size does matter! It is another way of emphasizing your subject. Perhaps
the most common fault, after placing the subject slap-bang in the middle, is
having the subject too small in the frame.
Whatever you do, every scene should have a definite
subject. The trouble is that our brains are imaginative (and our cameras are
not). I see so many photographers shooting a twelve-inch fish six feet away.
Their brains are filled with that fish but their frames aren't. They
are very disappointed when (viewing the results) they find the fish seems so
Your mind plays
tricks on you when you see a subject. It zooms in on the subject. Unfortunately,
your lens does not mimic this behavior unless you make it!
One of the best bits of advice beginners can take on
board is, once they have set up their shot to their satisfaction, to fin closer
before pressing that shutterThe shutter is an integral part of all cameras. It opens to allow light through. The greater the range of shutter speeds a camera has the better.. So many shots lack impact because the subject is
too small in the frame.
Backgrounds are important and must be given
consideration. Busy pictures rarely work. The eye searches around the scene
trying to latch onto the main point of interest in order to resolve itself. If
it doesn't find one the picture won't work.
Selective focussing is one method of isolating your
subject from the background, by using a wide apertureThe variable diameter hole used to control the amount of light passing through a lens. to put the background out
of focus. Underwater photographers largely neglect this technique as wide-angle
lenses have great depth of fieldThe zone in your picture that is in focus..
It is easy to isolate smaller subjects against a black
background by using a small aperture and is particularly effective with macroPhotography of smaller subjects shot (between 1:1 and 1:3) on macro settings or with macro equipment
and close-up photography. This is sometimes called negative spacea compotional term to describe neutral space used to isolate and emphasise the subject.
Frame Within A Frame
One way to escape from the 'prison' of your
frame format is to create another frame inside it. The most obvious example of this is the
shot out of a cave mouth. Selective lighting can also create frames. The frame
doesn't need to be complete, just softening one edge can be an improvement.
Immediate impact is a quality so important to competition
photography. Like most things to do with composition, impact is a quantity of a
subjective nature. What may seem astounding to the man in the street (whoever he
is!) can be old hat to a bunch of divers who have seen it all before.
Impact has little to do with your subject, something as humble as a piece
of weed can be presented in a dynamic way. Through composition we can make the
commonplace subject worth a second look.
Repetition of subjects, diminishing in size also helps,
as does the inclusion of foreground detail. The illusion of depth can also be
given by progressively weaker tones receding from foreground to background.
You can also accentuate subjects by reducing scenes to
areas of contrastthe difference in desity between parts of an image. High contrast for example denotes larger differences with blacker blacks and whiter whites. or color, not just shapes. Reds and yellows lift a subject
from its backdrop. Making a feature of the sun gives any shot impact.