This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking an affiliate link it doesn’t cost you any extra, but I might make a small commission. I use this money to help pay for blog hosting, homeschool stuff, and snack cakes.
Last week I had planned to go search around some thrift shops for some supplies for a project, but the weather was really uncooperative so I decided to switch gears and work my way through a photography composition tutorial while Wyatt had a nap. I got to keep my stretchy pants on and I didn’t have to worry about getting frostbite. It was a wise decision.
I got one of my tiny gnomes (similar) out and went to work.
Rule of Thirds
First up I composed a photo using the rule of thirds. Imagine the scene you’re composing is split up into a 3×3 grid. You want your main subjects to line up along along these imaginary lines to help you achieve balance in your photo.
Some cameras have a grid you can turn on that makes it easier to get your shot composed correctly, but I opted not to use that feature and just wing it. You can see I didn’t do half bad.
Sometimes when we place our main subject off-center, we’re left with a void we might want to fill. In that case, you’ll want to introduce a balancing element – something that isn’t the focus of your photograph but will fill the void. This gnome in this photo is composed similarly to the one above, but the addition of the balancing element gives it a whole new feel.
Out of all the photography composition rules I’ve worked on, leading lines is where I struggle the most. You want to compose your subject in way that the lines of the photo draw the reader to your subject. Here I placed Mr. Gnome along a literal line. It wasn’t until later that I realized I should have adjusted my depth of field for a crisper line, but I’m going to go ahead and blame that on the great distraction of realizing Mr. Gnome’s watering can spout vaguely resembles a penis. *sigh*
A lot of us have a tendency to take a lot of photographs right at eye level. I mean, of course we do. It’s easiest to just point the camera ahead of us and take a picture. But by changing our vantage point we can completely change the feel of a photograph. By shooting down on the gnome you get to experience the scene in a totally different way. You also get to see a lot more of that penis-spout. You’re welcome?
Sometimes background noise can be a distraction from your main subject, and in those instances, you might want to go for something plain that allows your subject stand out. For this photo I used a simple sheet of black poster board as my background, and I love the way it turned out. Easily my favorite picture of a gnome holding a phallic water can.
It can often be hard to convey the actual depth of a scene through a photograph, but by composing it with elements in the back, middle, and foreground you can help the viewer experience the photo more realistically. Here I used the edge of the shelf in the foreground, Mr. Gnome in the middle, and a few objects scattered at various points in the background.
Framing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You compose your shot with your subject framed in some way. For this shot I introduced a jug and a stack of plates just barely into the frame and placed Mr. Gnome in the middle. This helped to isolate Mr. Gnome and help him stand out more.
There are various reasons you might want to crop in tighter on a subject. It can help a smaller subject stand out. It can help reduce background noise. Or you might want to hone in on details of your subject that can’t be expressed without a tighter crop. Mr. Gnome has a lot of unique details that weren’t captured when he was cropped wider in the picture, but now you can see them in all their glory.
I hope you found my interpretation of these common photography “rules” helpful! Let me know which photo you like best. And tell me, should I keep photographing Mr. Gnome with his inappropriate watering can?
Equipment used in the creation of these photographs:
Canon Rebel t3i (discontinued) – Canon Rebel t5i is the updated model
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens – My favorite lens!
Cropped shot was taken using a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens – Who says a kit lens can’t make an awesome photo?
Want to keep up with all my cake-fueled ramblings? You can subscribe to my newsletter or find me at one of these places: