5:12 Compostion

For those of you who voted last week on which photo I should make into a canvas print, thank you! Here are the two winners.

And now, for week 5 of 12 Weeks to Better Photos, our task was to concentrate on Composition, with these six tips in mind:

1. Keep it simple - eliminate distractions
2. Apply the rule of thirds
3. Keep an eye on the horizon
4. Frame your subject
5. Fill the frame
6. Try a new perspective

I took a few photos this weekend, and I had friends take a few photos of me, to give examples of these.

This first one is a great example of rule number 1 (eliminate distractions), 2 (rule of thirds) and 4 (frame your subject). In photo number one, there are people behind me and I am right smack in the center of the photo. Take a look at photo number two. What are you looking at now? Not the people behind me. You are looking at the subject. Also, I am not right in the middle anymore. I am off to the side so you can see both the subject and the other important elements of the photo. 

This next one is a great example of rule number 2 (rule of thirds) and 3 (eye on the horizon). In photo one, the photo is split in half. You are not sure where to direct your eye. Should you look at the road or the sky?  In photo two, it is better proportioned, with the sky taking up roughly one third of the photo instead.

This is a classic example of what NOT to do. In photo number one (bottom right), the pole is obstructing the subject of the photo. Also, again, the subject is right in the middle. This can confuse the eye and the brain when trying to figure out what to focus on / what is important. The other two photos not only clear up the space a lot, but put the subject closer and in more of a pleasing position in the photo. Notice the rule of thirds, not only for the horizon, but for the subject as well.

The next one makes me laugh. Every time I ask someone to take a photo for me, they put me (the subject) right in front of what I am trying to get them to take the photo of me WITH. For example, I've been positioned right in front of the Eifel tower, and had many strange things (poles, signs, church spires) coming out of my head instead of being beside me.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do when composing a photo is to have either the subject or the photographer take ONE STEP to the left or the right. For example, in the photos below. My friend took photo number one first, in which I am not only obstructing the path, but I am right in the middle of the photo again. So he took a step to the left and BAM, now you can see me AND the path and I am off to the side, which satisfies (accidentally in this case) the rule of thirds (now we just need to work on the dappling sun/shade combo.)

Oh...what is the rule of thirds, you ask? You can read more about it here, but basically, you section your photo off into 9 equal sections, like in the photo below. You want your subject to be basically along these lines or their intersections. See that the horizon as well as the girl are placed along these lines? Your camera, even if you have a point and shoot, should have a "display" mode where you can see these lines as you are taking the photo. It makes the photo more pleasing to the eye. Try it and see!

This week, I have an assignment for you. No matter what kind of camera you have, try using the rule of thirds to place your subject in a more pleasing position in the photo. Even if you only have sky and land, try placing your sky either 2/3 up or 1/3 up from the bottom of the photo! Come back and let me know how you did!

Have you ever asked someone to take your photo and ended up blocking the thing you wanted the photo to be with? Have you ever experimented with the rule of thirds or composition in general?

You can link up with Kate this week and/or join us next week, when we learn about Shooting Indoors.


  1. Now I'm feeling guilty about the times that I have probably shot photos with towers coming out of people's heads.

  2. I really love your photos. You take great shots! And that rock is REALLY cool.

  3. You take some great photos and thanks for the great tips. I am learning a lot from you.

  4. Such great advice--you really take some beautiful photos and I have a lot to learn!

  5. Hey, these are all very good points... I wish you would do a post about photographing food!

  6. I may not the best photographer, but I think I have a pretty good grasp on composition, and I heartily agree with everything you said in this post. It's amazing how people don't think about what a photo is actually going to look like and stage things accordingly.

  7. Thanks for this post! I love learning how to take better photos. And yes, I always end up asking people to take pics of me while traveling and they usually turn out horrible. I even dedicated an entire post to it! I love these tips, they are great!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!