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  • Writer's picturestephenriella

Quick tips to improve composition

For any of you that follow me on social media, you know it's been a busy storm season. With a lag in the weather for a few days I wanted to put together just a couple tips that may help you improve your composition. If you look quickly at most scenes you can identify one of these items and it will change the way people look at your work.

First let's talk about the rule of thirds. Most posts and videos that discuss composition are frequently concerned about the rule of thirds. While it's not a bad, run of the mill idea, it isn't the end all. Take the image below as an example.

I wanted to emphasize the overwhelming size of the approaching shelf cloud. If I had included a third of the hay fields it wouldn't have seemed as large. My goal was simply to emphasize how the storm engulfed the landscape. This can work in many ways too. Boring sky? Simple, include less of it! Be knowledgeable about the rule of thirds but don't force yourself to use it in every image.

Leading lines can make your image shine! My favorite is to capture lines leading in on more than one portion of the frame.

Let's take a look at the image above. The brightest portion of the shelf cloud mid frame leads the eye into the image but so do multiple other places. The top left corner is the leading edge and curves right through the image and on the ground there are lines in the grasses that lead the eye starting in the bottom left corner and leading the eye under the darkest portion of the storm cloud.

Leading lines can make all the difference in an image. They can be obvious things like a road or less obvious like a group of wildflowers leading into a frame.

Speaking of frames, framing can be critical in otherwise flat scenes with no leading lines.

In this image we have a few layers between the field and a dirt path but beyond that nothing spectacular. The key hear is a bit of luck. The tree stand is the subject and waiting just long enough the clouds in this severe storm lowered to create a natural frame around them. Framing can be a number of things, a chain linked fence, trees or tree branches, leaves. You name it. If you find something that isn't too distracting and frames your subject take the shot.

Practice finding a subject and a frame for it or locating leading lines quickly. The faster the better. For me this is emphasized in storm season since things can change in a second. But, if you try these things on each shoot you will be able to process them faster and faster. I hope this helps and happy shooting all.

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