Notes on shapes

High speed water droplet creates shapes
Previously, it was discussed that lines are very helpful compositional tools when it comes to framing your photograph. However, you will find in your experiences that the practice of spotting lines in photographs will prove to be a bit of a challenge as there are other elements that can pose as a limitation to using compositional lines in particular ways. When confronted with lines intersecting with another object, you have to consider whether or not these different lines, depending on how they are angled, and how they interact with the subject matter you have in mind, drive the focus, attention, and balance away from your frame. It is important to be careful and cautious when doing so because even in the slightest changes of positioning a line from one place to another is enough to create a huge difference in your photo. It will be of utmost use to consider how the lines intersect, how they blend together, and how even the slightest camera motions can change your photo. When it comes to shapes, one should thoroughly consider giving the viewer an almost instant or immediate understanding of the shapes and forms in the scenes, as well as their relationships to each other. Consider as well, how the color of your photograph, say for instance, rendering it in black and white, will affect the interaction of those shapes, how it might obscure the other or confuse it. It seems like a difficult problem to fix, but it really only takes a little shifting to the right or the left, and the lines from the second object confusing the subject matter will be broken and will give a better sense of separation and more of an understanding of depth in scene. Do also remember to pay attention to repeating shapes, textures, and movement that can form nice symmetrical patterns.
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Making use of lines

Leading the eye with lines
Another compositional tool that most photographers use is the use of lines. Lines are especially useful when they function as a significantly strong means for leading the viewer’s eyes into and out of the photograph. Lines do not only provide a means of telling a leading story of the photograph, it also provides a gentle rhythm throughout the image. Some lines will appear to be strong man-made lines, while some lines will appear to be natural and soft, especially when you find yourself shooting landscape scenes; in some cases, some lines can result from other repeating elements. The tools of lines works especially well when you happen upon a scene and you are not so sure how to begin taking the photograph. Lines are only one of compositional elements that you can use to work with the image. First, you may ask whether there are any interesting lines in the image that you can work with; similarly, you may ask yourself if there are any interesting shapes from which you can work with as well. You can use these two questions to provide a structure for framing your shot. Don’t worry if this seems to be deviating you from looking or considering the actual subject matter, and looking merely now only at a compositional idea. These lines serve as building blocks to improve our composition. For instance, consider the image of a burned-out forest and you are not sure how to take a photograph of it. One can consider the interesting tones or shapes of the lines and from there move on to the subject matter. This is a burned-out piece of wood, floor, then onwards to burned-out forest even if you spotted only two lines. You have taken a photograph of the subject matter, but the lines that you used are the entry point for the viewer. Here compositional idea gives us access to the subject matter.
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Well-balanced photo
Looking for symmetry in your composition is one of the easiest ways to achieve a balanced look in your composition. Symmetry gives off a pleasant feeling of order such that the viewers’ eyes know instantly where to look or where to go. When there is little to no symmetry in an image, the photo falls out of balance and the image becomes rather displeasing to look at as our eyes get more and more lost. We fail to instantly recognize what it is we are supposed to be looking at; moreover the photograph fails to incite any form of reaction or emotion from its viewers. Sometimes photos don’t have to be totally and entirely symmetrical. They produce a feeling of intended intention, but they can still be balanced. This can be achieved by making use of placing compositional elements within the thirds regions or by placing them on the boundary between these regions. Sometimes, it is placing these objects on the intersections of the horizontal and vertical grid lines which will produce good composition. This, however, is not a guarantee to good composition, because sometimes is works, and sometimes it just doesn’t. Guidelines like these aren’t strictly “rules” that are pertinent for you to follow whenever you go out and take a photo, but rather, are a friendly structure for you to get started, or give you a stating point for those moments during taking photographs when you seem to be puzzled as to how you should go about taking the photo.¬†
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When you find yourself before a scene, the patterns of lines, shapes, and textures that you ease out into your mind is called repetition. And repetition is another compositional element which you want to practice incorporating in your photograph because it gives your image a sense of rhythm, pulse, and order. Since composition is essentially really about ascribing order,¬†repetition is a good way for you to instill this sense of wholeness to many objects. Viewers’ eyes will be naturally drawn to it because of the repeating patterns which you sometimes have to actively seek out by changing your camera position. Similarly, you can generate the illusion of a repeating rhythm by the way your organize things into your scene. Sometimes there are lines that are not explicitly lines per se, but are lines which are created by other objects such as handles, bolts, and other objects that serve not as contiguous lines but as implied lines. Another compositional element that is always crucial for producing a good photo is your perspective. It is absolutely critical that you remember where you are standing and the corresponding focal length you are going to use, because both elements together are going to produce very different effects. Perspective is an immediate balancing tool. It is usually difficult to produce an unbalanced image with perspective. Focal length is constitutive of the element of perspective and can produce different effects. Longer focal lengths are produced when you zoom in, and this produces a compressed and more intimate scene. A shorter focal length is produced by zooming out with a wide angle shot, which will give you the effect of maybe steeper lines and smaller objects.
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