by Darrell Oller
I want to use my own photographs to decorate my home and office. I want pictures of the people that are important in my life.
I used to have a problem. We have all seen the advertisements promising personal photographic glory.
It is true, modern digital cameras are pretty amazing pieces of equipment. The amount of whiz-bang gizmos packed into one of these little technological marvels is truly amazing to those of us that can remember when Polaroid was cool. All of these gizmos and features help us take better pictures. However, until the camera is designed to point itself, we can still take pictures that are less than striking.
A few of the problems we might have with our photos can include the following:
God forbid that any of these photo maladies could happen to us. We may even take a picture that is free of these problems, but is just unremarkable. We take care to avoid these common problems, but still our photos lack pop. Maybe the images are ok, but the photo just does not have any character.
What is the difference between the photos that the pros take and the photos that we take?
In fact, what is the difference between my sister's photos that always look good and mine that always look so ho-hum.
From the base word "Compose," dictionary.com offers the definition "To make or create by putting together parts or elements." Sounds like a recipe doesn't it? A master chef uses the recipe as a guideline and adds her own special touches to make the dish special. A professional photographer has training and experience in choosing the ingredients that make up or "compose" a photograph.
Most of us will never get the extensive training of a professional. Still, we can learn to improve our photos quite a bit by learning (and experimenting) with a few tricks that can make our photography much better.
The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds adds interest to photos, especially photos of people. Imagine the field of your photo looks like a tic-tac-toe game. Imagine two vertical and two horizontal lines cutting your image into 9 areas. This pattern creates four spots where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect. Your photo will have much more impact if you place the focal points of your photo on these intersections. Images of people almost always look more interesting if the subject is off center. This type of placement will leave an open area opposite the subject. It is best to leave the open space in the direction the subject is looking. Try it out and you will be pleased with the results.
Many times we are too far from our subjects. Move in! Most modern point-and-shoot cameras will focus properly as close as 3 feet from the subject. The idea is to make the picture have a subject. If your subject is a person, fill the picture with the subject. Capture the expression on their face.
Pay Attention To the Background
You may well have a great shot of your subject, but the background of your photo may ruin the shot. A plain background works better to highlight your subject. A busy background confuses the eye and steals attention from your subject. The garbage can or laundry basket have a place in our homes, but not in the background of our photos.
Portrait vs Landscape
Experiment with portrait and landscape aspects. We call it "portrait" when a picture is more vertical than horizontal. When a picture is wider than tall, we call it "landscape." These terms are the result of classic artists painting portraits in a taller format and landscapes in a wider format.
Many times an image that would seem to be a landscape scene makes a very interesting image in portrait mode. Just turn your camera ninety degrees an snap another shot of the same subject to compare portrait and landscape modes. Photos often become more interesting when they seem to break the rules a bit.
Do Not Fear Black & White
Color can make a picture beautiful. However, color draws a lot of attention. Sometimes that attention is bad. When you convert an image to black and white, the details of the image get the attention. Some images are greatly enhanced by removing the color.
We talk a lot about Black and White. To be correct, we should say "Shades of Gray" or "Grayscale." A picture that we call black and white actually contains many different shades of gray. Often a photo that has been reduced to 256 shades of gray is far more interesting than the same image in full color. Image details shine through that may have been overpowered by the vivid color of a dress or a wall.
Most of us have an image on our camera or computer that looks pretty dull and boring. The composition may be great, but the sky is gray and the grass is a little blue. Converting an image like that to grayscale sometimes will produce a classy, nostalgic image that soon becomes a favorite.
There are lots more tricks of the photographic trade. I will cover some of these in future articles. Practice these tips and you will take more pictures that you can use to decorate your own spaces.
About the Author
Darrell Oller works with pix2posters.com where we transform up to 25 of your digital images into unique, personalized artwork for your home or office. Please visit our site for examples of our work.
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