Composition is something that can make or break a photo. Sometimes if you try to cram too much into a shot it will look chaotic and confusing. If you decide to limit the amount of “subjects” in your frame, it can appear boring and flat. Now, there are no set rules in photography (regardless of what some people might think). The rule of thirds, accurate metering, level horizon, sharp focus – all of these things are important for aesthetically pleasing photos, but creativity and originality can trump these rules any day. Back to composition. Taking a photo in an old, detailed castle can result in a truly beautiful picture. Sometimes it will stand just dandy on its own. For the creative photographer however, this may not be enough. By adding a human element to the frame, it allows the viewer to more associate with the scene. It can add a sense of humanity, scale, and will probably keep your attention a bit longer. If you know the person it can make that photo even more personal, something that truly breaches the line between a family snapshot on a vacation and a fine art photo. On the other hand, sometimes it can take away for the desired end state. Does that make sense?? So, on to the photo below… This past weekend a friend and I visited the perfectly preserved Castel Del Monte, a 13th century castle in Apulia, Italy. After touring the grounds, we came upon this room. Now, I had been here before a couple of years back but have improved tremendously as a photographer since then. Back then I would have been completely content spending 30 seconds fumbling and guessing with settings, snapping a poorly composed shot and moving on. This time, when I arrived in the room, I took a few minutes and just waited. Observed the unique textures, admired the beautiful lighting, and watched wave after wave of tourists pour through. When it was finally clear, my friend Raven was setting up for a photo of the window above. I wish I could say this was a completely candid photo, but I fell in love with the composition right away and wanted to ensure I was able to capture the scene the way I saw it in my head. After a couple quick trial shots to achieve proper White Balance, ISO, exposure, sharp focus, and focal length (yes, these are all things you should be considering when taking a photo if you want the best results), I was happy with my setup. I told Raven to get back into the position and began to shoot. Some things my eyes notice as they dance across this image include her subtle shadow sneaking in to the darkness, the brightly lit window casting natural sunlight around the room, the ornate columns and stonework, and a grand sense of scale. What do you see? What are your thoughts on composition? Do you like to shake things up and add that human aspect to your photos at times?
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