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By: Joe Mannino, Director of First Impressions/Resident Photographer
Making an interesting photograph isn’t as easy as point and shoot. In fact, a lot goes on between when I decide to make an image and when I actually release the shutter. I see something interesting, I visualize how I want the end product to look, I carefully compose the shot, make any adjustments for exposure, and finally, I take the shot.
Now, your process doesn’t need to be as neurotic and OCD as mine, but there are some simple things to keep in mind when composing an image that will help take your shots to the next level.
First and foremost, no matter what your subject matter is, compose your image so that it’s clearly visible and easily read by the viewer. For example, in your standard grip and grin, you and your buck are smack dab in the middle of the frame, there’s no mistaking what that photo is about.
Along those same lines, try to avoid any visually confusing or distracting elements within your frame. The best way to navigate this is to set your subject against a neutral background or use a shallow depth of field or “portrait mode” to blur the background.
For additional help with composition, I like to refer to the rule of thirds. Imagine breaking the image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have nine parts. The theory is that if you place points of interest on the intersections of those lines your photo will be more balanced. This also helps to keep your subject out of the middle of every photograph, thus allowing for more movement within the image.
Another thing I like to keep in mind when making a photograph is the lighting in the scene. I tend to view a scene in terms of highlight, mid-tone, and shadow. In most cases I want an even exposure without blown out highlights and deep, dark shadows. However, there are occasions where I will push exposure to emphasize the way a ridge looks being half illuminated by the rising sun, for example.
This adjustment does not have to be complicated. Most smart phones allow you to play with “brightness” when making your image. You can also make those adjustments after the shot in most editing programs including, Instagram, and IOS.
While these tips can help you make better images, don’t be afraid to break the rules and experiment with different techniques. There is no right way to do things in photography, ultimately it comes down to how you want your images to look. Check back in next time as I’ll go over grip & grin do’s and don’ts.
If you haven't already, check out the first post of the series, Taking Photos in the Field.