Photographic SuperCourse: Composition Page 3

Nature isn't the only pattern source. You can find man-made patterns too. "Found" scenes are everywhere; you just have to learn to see them. How? Keep looking!

Deliberately throwing this scene out of focus turned it into an abstract pattern of light and shape.

This looks like a multi-exposure, but it's actually just three pelicans approaching a lake for landing. Curiously, at the last moment they decided not to land, and flew away.

Patterns are more complex than lines, but can make interesting subject matter. Plants provide a host of natural patterns for you to find and photograph, but there are lots of other sources, too. Repeated shapes occur throughout the natural and man-made worlds; keep an eye out for them.

The red glow of very-late-afternoon sunlight adds interest to this hillside scene.

Primary or complementary colors make good subjects. Here, all three additive primaries occurred—red clouds lit by the rising sun, green grass and blue sky. Sunrise is a great time for photography, by the way—when the conditions are right, you get some incredible light and colors.

Lighting is important when you're going for color, as is exposure. As always, it's wise to bracket exposures if you're in doubt as to the right one.

Color makes a great subject for a photo, but you generally still want to compose the picture. A random blur of colors doesn't necessarily make for a great photograph.

This one was shot from human eye level, but rotated 90° clockwise for a Escher-esque effect. The top duck was actually jumping into the water; the other one was just standing there.

Shadows can add interest, or serve as subjects themselves. Photo by Jay Jorgensen

Like shadows, reflections can be used to enhance portrait images. A reflection appears as far behind the reflecting surface as the subject being reflected is in front of the surface, so you should shoot at a small aperture to increase depth of field unless you want either the subject or its reflection to be unsharp. Photo by Jay Jorgensen
Point of View

Where you choose to put the camera has a big effect on the resulting photo. Most people shoot most of their shots from human eye level. This has the advantage of looking "normal," because that's where we view almost everything from. But you can add interest to your images by shooting some from anywhere but human eye level.