The Feature Photo above is a solid composition.  As you look through the viewfinder you look straight out over as many boats as possible in the scene with two interesting boats in the foreground.  You’re looking beyond the main subjects.  Basically the scene feels balanced and you’re getting a lot out of it.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F8  1/500th  95mm  ISO 100

First, none of these pictures are great.  This week I’m just using them as examples.  These images were captured near Hua Hin and are very typical of what you’ll see along Thailand’s coastal regions.  Thai fishing boats have always caught my interest because of their old time build construction and bright bold colors.  They make for interesting photographs.

The Feature Photo above is a solid composition.  As you look through the viewfinder you look straight out over as many boats as possible in the scene with two interesting boats in the foreground.  You’re looking beyond the main subjects.  Basically the scene feels balanced and you’re getting a lot out of it.

 

Nine out of ten times the above scene will be captured instead.  The natural inclination is to center the most prominent boat in the scene and not think much past the main subject.  The Feature Photo is different in that we’re also thinking of the boats beyond the main subject, and the landforms as well.  The difference between the two images equaled three footsteps and a 30 degree pivot.  Not much effort, but a drastic difference in composition.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F8  1/400th  130mm  ISO 100

Nine out of ten times the above scene will be captured instead.  The natural inclination is to center the most prominent boat in the scene and not think much past the main subject.  The Feature Photo is different in that we’re also thinking of the boats beyond the main subject, and the landforms as well.  The difference between the two images equaled three footsteps and a 30 degree pivot.  Not much effort, but a drastic difference in composition.

Do you tend to center all your subjects?  You’ll read a lot about the “rule of thirds” and I’ve talked about it in the past, and other rules, but really composition isn’t so much about rules as it is about ‘feel’, a sort of balance you achieve when you take a few extra moments and think beyond the main subject.

 

As with the centered picture above, where you can’t just simply place a subject in the center and call it a composition, you just can’t place a subject over to the side and call it one either.  Neither of these really work.  One is too centered, the other too far to the side creating a feeling of unbalance.  A vast empty space to the left of the main subject, leaving the main subject feeling crowded.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mM F2.8L IS  @F8  1/320th  200mm  ISO 100

As with the centered picture above, where you can’t just simply place a subject in the center and call it a composition, you just can’t place a subject over to the side and call it one either.  Neither of these really work.  One is too centered, the other too far to the side creating a feeling of unbalance.  A vast empty space to the left of the main subject, leaving the main subject feeling crowded.

The Feature Photo above is balanced.  If I’d have had a wider lens on the camera I would have added a bit of space to the side of both the foreground boats, but that’s nitpicking.  When your subject is prominent, AND you take into account (and balance) what’s behind your main subjects, then your composition will be the better for it.