Compositional consideration

Compositional consideration

You arrive at a new scene and start shooting with your camera and tripod. then you go home and upload your images and go through them hoping that one of the scenes worked, but they are all missing something… does this sound like your workflow? If so read on…

I am constantly seeing photographers arrive at a scene and they have their camera in front of their eye before they have even looked at a scene. The tripod is quickly set-up and a lot of fiddling occurs at the back of the camera. They are missing one important element to photography technique – ‘Looking’!  Quite often it is the equipment such as sturdy tripods and high end cameras that become obstacles to our ability to see properly.  The heavy duty camera gear is important for making museum quality prints, but if you are not able to spot the subtleties in a nature scene, then you picture wont appear in a museum (unless to rent the wall space).

5 minute rule

My advice on so many occasions is for a photographer to leave their camera in the camera bag and tripod folded up and just stand/ sit and look at what is in front of them for 5 minutes.  What happens over that 5 minutes is usually several visual epiphanies.  You start to spot lines and shapes and details that you hadn’t previously seen.

The difference between a snapshot and photographic art is the inclusion of feeling. Feeling is what the landscape artist attempts to convey in an image. If a photographer cannot feel the scene, how on earth will they ever be able to convey feeling in their shots? If you rush into a scene and snap away without first looking at the scene, there is no way you can feel it. If you can feel the scene, there is no guarantee that you will be able to convey feeling, but you have a much better chance.


Just relax and let your eyes wander. After 5 minutes you will notice things in the scene that I guarantee you didn’t see when you arrived. You eyes will notice finer details, patterns leading lines. The next stage is to analyse which way your eye moves across the scene and from here we compose.

So often I hear the phrase – ‘If I take hundreds of pictures, of of them is bound to be good!’ Why not take those hundred pictures in your mind before saving the good one for your camera? you batteries, shutter curtain and memory cards will be happier.

Svartifoss light

Telephoto: the needs for lines

Telephoto: the needs for lines

When I play back through my shots I see how I am working on a frame getting slightly closer to the correct composition. It can be useful to study your work like this sometimes. What seems clear is that there can be different rules of composition depending on your focal length.

Blue skies arrrgghh!

Blue skies arrrgghh!

Blue skies; I hate them… and here is why: Consider these two images, taken just a week apart at the same location. Although the cloudless image on the left isn’t exactly a blue sky, it does illustrate the main issue for me, the lack of clouds on a blue sky day. Clouds can help a […]

Considering DOF in a beach scenic

Considering DOF in a beach scenic

There are times when a sea-scape requires a Deep DOF (Depth of field), but here we look at situations where you can get more from your lens by considering apertures such as f/6.3 for your scene.

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