Black and White, Black and White Photography, Joseph, New York, Photography

You Asked For It – Composition


I had recently been asked to participate in a post called “Blog hop around the world”.   In this post I had to answer four questions about my craft or passion which is photography.  I was totally blown away with the comments and positive response I had received for this post and surprised how many people were encouraging me to write more.  I have never really been one to write much with my posts but rather to post photographs with brief descriptions.  People actually were interested in what was going on inside my head while I was taking photos (which is a very scary thought in itself).

So here is the first post in a series of called “You Asked For It”.  The inner workings of an old retired guys mind who happens to love the art of photography 🙂

We will start the series off with the subject of – Composition.  Why are we starting off with composition ?  Because thats what I feel like talking about today (you asked me to write, but I never said I would be a good teacher, LOL).  Actually most cameras today have advanced metering systems and lots of automatic features so achieving proper exposure with them is usually pretty easy.

What are the building blocks or elements that make a good photograph ?

1.  Proper exposure – This is a given, proper exposure is essential for a good photograph.  Lets admit it we have all seen a photograph from a friend or relative that is so badly exposed you can hardly recognize the subject matter.

2.  Subject matter – This is kind of subjective because whats interesting to one person might be pretty boring to someone else. Lets all agree for the moment that we are talking about subject matter thats interesting to everyone.

3.  Composition – This one is a biggie in my opinion, you might be able to get away with poor composition but then I would call it a snapshot not a photograph. Composition is what makes your image appealing.  Have you ever seen an image that you just can’t stop looking at ?   The reason most likely is the photographer nailed all three of the above elements.

The Rule Of Thirds

How many of you have heard of “The rule of thirds” ?  Lets see a show of hands.  Okay you can put your hands down now I can’t see them anyway.

The rule of thirds states you should divide your scene into thirds in both the horizontal and vertical planes so the easiest way to do this is with gridlines. Most modern DSLR’s have a feature that can be turned on via the menu system called gridlines. My Nikon D610, Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujifilm X-E2 all have this feature. If your camera does not have this feature you will just have to imagine a blank Tic-Tac-Toe board or a total of nine squares.


The above photo is typically what I see through my viewfinder when the gridlines are turned on.  I usually leave the gridlines on all the time so I am not fumbling through the menus when I want to grab a shot.  The whole premise of the rule of thirds is to place one of the points of interest in your photo where any one or more of the lines of the grid intersect each other.   Before you ask you will not get extra points if you intersect all four locations, thats not the objective here. As you can see in the above example the hull of the ship is intersecting the bottom horizontal line and the vertical line to the right.  You can also see that the top horizontal line and the vertical line to the right is almost intersecting where one of the masts is placed.  What would make this image perfect composition would be if the horizon was a little lower so it would intersect the bottom horizontal line and the left vertical line.  After looking at the photo I decided to raise the horizon to its present place in the cropping process because I liked the way it looked better.   The rule of thirds should be used as a guideline for composition.   It is not cast in stone where you have to use it every time but in the majority of cases when used will make for better composition in your images.


Here is the same image with the gridlines removed.  I also used a wide angle 24mm lens on a full frame sensor camera to accentuate the ship a little more (I was a lot closer to this ship than you would think from the photo).

I hope I have explained this subject so most of you will walk away with an “AhHa” moment but if I was not clear please contact me through the “Contact Me” menu on the home page of this blog and explain to me which part is not clear and I will contact you through email to try and answer your questions.

Next Friday’s topic – Depth of field