Composition is the arrangement of elements in your picture. You control the amount and placement of these elements by when, where and how you compose your image in the viewfinder or on the preview screen.You can further refine or completely change the composition when you crop the image with Photoshop.


The center of interest is the star of the show. There is usually only one center of interest in your picture.Your photograph tells the story of the center of interest. All elements should help tell the story, not detract from it.Your center of interest should be easy to identify. The exceptions to this would be an abstract photograph or an image illustrating repetition with variation. Use some of the compositional techniques we go over in class to lead the viewers eye to your center of interest (leading lines, rule of thirds, framing, etc.).


The best way to present a clear message in a photograph is to keep the composition simple. The fewer elements you have to work with, the easier it is to design a pleasing image and control the viewer's eye. Try to arrange the composition so the viewer only sees the important elements. Getting closer or using the telephoto setting on your camera allows you to fill the frame with the subject. Always remember the KIS rule - Keep It Simple. Remember my white board example.


When you find a subject that you are going to photograph, don’t just walk up to it and snap the shutter. Walk around the subject and take pictures of it from all angles. Shoot from both low and high perspectives.


Some things to consider when creating your images:

Focus - your image needs to be in focus. Good focus gets to be more difficult as you progress in photography. I think it is because your subject matter is often close and not in the center of the frame. Assume 50% of your pictures will be out of focus. Take enough pictures so you will have some that are in focus. Don't trust the viewing screen on the back of the camera, it is too small to make accurate judgment calls about focus. I probably throw away 25% of the pictures I take because they are out of focus and I have one of the fastest focusing cameras in the world. Everybody takes out of focus pictures. Throw the bad files away, don't turn them in.

How lenses work.  More info.

Some technical things that might help:

1. Know how your camera focuses - Does it have auto focus, manual focus, or fixed focus? How does it focus? Does it have a close-up mode? As always, your camera manual is your friend.

Focus recompose - If it has auto focus it usually has focus lock. Place your center of interest in the center of the frame. Press your shutter release button half way down. This locks focus at that distance. Recompose (placing the center of interest where you would like it to be in the frame), press the shutter release the rest of the way down to take a picture. Remember, you need to hold the shutter release half way down as you recompose.

Find out how close you can get your camera to an object and still focus on it. Put a pop can or other small object on a table or something outside about 5 feet away. Take a picture of it, move your camera 6 inches closer, take another picture. Keep doing this until it is a few inches from the lens. Look at the images on the computer to see which come out in focus. If you have a close-up mode try it that way also (usually a flower symbol the mode dial}. Determine the closest distance the object can be and still be in focus. Your camera manual should also have the information in it.

2. Crop in the camera - Don't just shoot wide with the intention of cropping in later. Shoot a variety of compositions. If you crop out a lot later you will be be greatly reducing the resolution of your images.

3. Know thy camera - Read the manual. Every page. It doesn't matter what type of camera you have as long as you know how to use it. Every camera has strengths and weaknesses. Learn what they are. If you have questions, write them down and ask me about it. Bring in the manual if you can. If you don't have a manual find it on line.

4.Experiment -  One of the best things about digital photography is how easy it is to experiment. Try moving around your subject taking pictures from different angles and distances. Experiment with the different shooting modes if you have them. Try taking pictures at different times of day to see the effects of different types of light. Look on the internet for examples. Every picture won't be good. If you take 100 pictures you might only keep 5 or 6. Experiment.