Learn Digital Photography - Learn to Compose Great Photos in 5 Easy Steps

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You probably have heard that composition is what makes great photos. And, if you learn how to compose then you will produce fantastic shots. Knowing where to place your subject and the various elements in a photo is what makes a great image. But applying this in practise is what takes time and effort and a little help.

Once you know the basic principles it is remarkably easy to create a great composition resulting in a beautiful photo. But, putting all these principles together in one photo can be difficult and daunting. If you follow these five basic guidelines you will see an immediate improvement in your images. Here's how easy it is.

1. Place your subject

It's logical, when you think of it, that the placement of your subject is what photography is all about. Where the object stands or lies is important and knowing where to put it is fundamental to good photography. Where do you put it? 99% of the time the centre of an image is not the best place for your subject. Imagine a grid across your image dividing it into thirds. Two lines horizontally and two vertically. Where the lines intersect is where you place your subject. Try different compositions by varying the placement of your subject on any of these points. Like the tic tac toe or noughts and crosses grid we all played as kids. With horizons, choose either the top horizontal line or bottom one. Never place an horizon in the middle of an image. This will bring you photo to life and give it balance.

2. Declutter you scene

Go look at your photo albums and see how many of your images have things in them that you don't really want there. Like garbage cans at a tourist scene, a tree growing out of a friend's head or a rusty coke can in a nature scene. You can correct these defects with computer software afterwards, but, ideally this should happen in the viewfinder. Take careful note of what is at the edges of your scene. Either zoom in, walk in closer or change your angle to exclude the unwanted elements.

3. Change your point of view

Don't go for a traditional viewpoint when shooting any scene or subject. Look for a different angle or vantage point. Climb some steps or get down low even if it means lying on your stomach or back. The important thing is to shoot from an angle that is different to the usual. Get your camera lens level with the eyes of a subject. This is especially so with kids. You can even turn your camera 45 degrees to the subject. Don't be afraid to experiment.

4. Watch your backgrounds

This is so important. Your background can be the sky or natural vegetation or even the colourful side of a building. Whatever it is, it should allow your subject to stand out and not blend in. Contrast is important so don't shoot someone dressed in shades of green to stand in front of green vegetation. Your background needs to be uncomplicated and should never compete for attention with your subject. It should allow the eye to be drawn to the subject which is the most important part of the image.

5. Change your format

You won't believe how much of a difference this can make to an image. We traditionally take most of our images in the way the camera was designed, horizontally. By turning your camera 90 degrees can often take an ordinary scene and turn it into a stunning photo. The vertical format, also known as portrait, is underutilised and many great photos can be created just by changing the format.

Composition is so important when putting your eye to the viewfinder. It takes all the best elements of the scene and combines them into an image that is remarkable and memorable and very pleasing to the eye. Take time to ponder and consider your scene before pressing the shutter button. A little bit of thought when composing an image can often be the difference a good photo and a great photo.

Learning is a continual journey so take each of these steps and include them in your photographic journey to fantastic photographs.

Do you want to learn more about photography in a digital world? I've just completed a brand new e-course delivered by e-mail. Download it here for free: CLICK HERE. You can also learn to take perfect photos in 21 steps by taking a look at my new ebook 21 Steps 2 Perfect Photos

Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography.

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