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Understanding Composition

Photo © R.L. Herron

The Rule of Thirds
Photographic excellence, like beauty, is almost certainly in the eye of the beholder. But most of us would agree that composition is a primary factor in successful photography.

While most pictures will usually fall into the “snapshot” category without it, you can probably find marvelous examples of commercial photography that have violated the rule of thirds and still accomplished something of extraordinary beauty. However, the rule-of-thirds guideline for subject placement has been the traditional way to create a well-balanced image – and has been taught to fine art painters for centuries as the way to create a dynamic composition.

While getting ready to take your next picture, imagine your camera’s viewing screen etched with grid lines that divide it in thirds, both horizontally and vertically (imagine a tic-tac-toe grid). Place your main subject at one of the intersecting points, so your photograph will lead the viewer’s eye through the frame. Like the apple tree image above, even simple, static subject matter can be given a dynamic feel by using this technique. Experienced photographers often break compositional rules in order to make a point, or create a specific mood. But before you think about breaking the rules it is important to know, understand and practice the basics.

Photo ©  Jeffrey Michael Herron

Dramatic Skies
Dramatic skies can be emphasized by placing the horizon low in the frame, along the lower line of the imaginary grid.

Photo © R.L. Herron

Large Subject
In a portrait close-up, place the most important subject element – often the closest eye – at or near one of the top two intersecting lines.

Other do-it-yourself repair or technique sections are listed below (note - line items in black are still under construction):

If you would like a specific repair item or usage question to be considered on this site, simply go to my Mamiya 35mm Forum! and make your suggestion known. However, please don't hold your breath, because it is likely to be some time before I can get around to documenting all the things that might need fixing, and I would hate to be responsible for even small portions of the camera-collecting population turning blue! Note that no liability for damage is either expressed or implied in the use of these notations.
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