One of the most important aspects of photography is the composition of the photo itself. The location a person stands, and the angle at which the photo is taken, can make a huge impact on the impression or impact that the photo makes upon the viewer.
A favorite technique of mine is to make the subject of the photo relatively small, and to make the viewer’s eyes hunt for the subject. Of course, the photographer needs to give some hints to the viewer as to where he or she should be looking. These hints can come in the form of lines, colors, contrast, and perspective.
Lines that lead the viewer’s eye can be considered powerful tools in composition. Similarly, sharp differences in color – something that looks different or unusual – can also give the viewer some hints as to where to look. A change in contrast may also be considered a visual hint, and draw the viewer’s eye towards a particular spot in the picture.
Consider today’s featured photo (which can also be found at my homepage here), which is a view of Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks, California, located in Wildwood Park. The subject in this photo is undoubtedly the waterfall. However, the waterfall is comparatively small when taken into context of the photo at large. The largest elements here are the pale yellow brush in the foreground and the blue lake in the mid-ground of the photo.
The sticks and grass of the yellow brush create some lines in the foreground of the photo. The brush is large, but leads the viewers eyes up to the blue lake. There’s also some strong contrast between the yellow brush and the blue water, and this creates some separation and interest between the two elements.
The yellow cliff is also contrasted with the blue lake. The yellow brush and cliff tend to surround the lake, creating a feeling of interest towards the center and upper portions of the photo. And there in that center-upper portion lies a nice waterfall, which is the main point of interest.
Lastly, the perspective of the photo plays some role in creating the mood of the picture overall. The photo was taken low to the ground, between the brush leading into the lake. The photo was shot with a 14mm lens, which elongates the yellow brush and extends the lines that the grass bits are creating. It’s almost like the photo was taken from the viewpoint of a creature that was crawling out of the grass and making its way towards the water. It’s not a perspective that a human being would naturally experience. Adding a novel perspective like that can create more novelty and interest in the photo, and make it more memorable.
That’s all for today! The next time you’re out shooting, pay attention to color, contrast, lines, and perspective, and see if you can use them to create some cool photos. Stay tuned, as I’ll have plenty more in the days and weeks to come!