Photography tutorials

Light and Composition tips for budding photographers

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Light and composition are two of the most important aspects of photography in order to create a successful image, they are two of the main building blocks to learn.

Lighting can create completely different looking images depending on what style you choose to use. If you are shooting outdoors in natural light, the time of day and direction you shoot from can create strikingly different looking images, so it is important to take this into consideration. For example, if you were shooting a building on a cloudy day with some sun, timing could mean the difference between an average photo and a great one. Shooting when cloudy creates a diffused light as the clouds act as a softbox. Lighting becomes quite flat and the shadows/highlights become less prominent. Whereas if the sun has come out you will get more of depth in your photograph produced by more shadows and highlights. Colours also become brighter and more saturated.

Shooting facing the sun will create more of a backlit effect as you are facing a bright light source. This can work nicely when shooting portraits if you want a softer look opposed to bright and bold that you get when not facing the sun. A diffused light means less corrections need to be made as the lighting will appear much more even on the face. Be aware that an image can come across quite ‘flat’ if it is very overcast. Shooting with your back to the sun will mean your subject is lit up from the light source, the sun, and colours will be more defined as well as harsher shadows being created to angles are important to keep in mind.

Composition is arguably one of the most important aspects of a photograph as it involves where the subject matter lies and the use of depth and direction. There are endless angles you can shoot from in most photographic situations. Instead of shooting just straight on, try thinking outside of the box and walk around, crouch or use depth to get a wide variety of options for an image.

Depth can be a technique used to create a more interesting photograph as there will visually be more going on for the viewer to take in. Shooting a portrait through grass for example will create an interesting photograph and a nice depth of field effect. If you are shooting a landscape, try including objects in the foreground such as trees or edges of buildings to create more areas of interest.

The format you shoot in can change a photograph significantly. If you are shooting a landscape it is almost instinct to shoot it in a landscape format, but try shooting it vertically and see what other compositions you could come up with.

Whilst composition and lighting are two of the main building blocks of creating a successful photograph, there is no definite set of rules as each situation is different. It is up to the photographer to experiment and try different things when shooting to create a variety of different options.

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