1. There is no right way to take a photograph but there are a number of guidelines that can help you improve your composition. Once you have learned the “rules” then it’s the time to break them.
2 Look for natural lines that can take your eye into a picture. Roads, landscapes, rocks, rivers, branches, clouds, horizons, petals, animal tails, shadows, reflections and other leading lines make images more harmonious. They can frame, attract, distract and draw the viewer towards, or away, from the focal point of your image.
3 The human brain likes to connect things like dot to dot. A single subject will attract attention, two will cause confusion because the brain goes back and forth. Tip: look for things in threes – they often work very well.
4. The brain also reflections: two zebra that seem carbon copies of one another, or birds that are perfectly synchronized in flight. These effects are called mirroring.
5. No picture has one dimension. Think about the foreground, the background and the middle ground. How much of the background do we want to include. Tip: A busy background can often distract – blur it out if you can by using a longer lens and a wider aperture.
6. Shooting portrait (camera upright) can often create a stronger picture, while a landscape image (camera horizontal) is often associated with a calmer more peaceful and harmonious composition. Tip: consider leaving open spaces in your image to give the subject room to breathe.
7. Use one-third sky or one-third foreground but not half of each. Similarly try not to position your subject in the centre of the frame. Think of your viewfinder as having three equal squares and then position your subjects off centre.
8. Someone said that true genius is about simplicity and I think that it applies to every genre including writing, music, science, or photography. Is there a disturbing element, which can be cropped? Go in closer, if necessary to remove it. Less is almost always more.
9. Early artists learned about the theory of colour and it can be a great tool for photographers as well. Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel and at their most vibrant. Tip: if you find a red subject in the bush, for example a flower, against a green bush background then photograph it.
10. Can you adjust your line of vision? Getting a low angle can give an elephant a more impressive stature while a high angle will show more buffalo in a herd. Shooting eye to eye makes predators look much more fearsome. Similarly adjust your horizontal line of sight so that you can make a more harmonious image.
This image relies on mirroring for its effect.
Orange and green are on opposite sides of the colour wheel and this helps the image pop.