My first blog post for 2015; I almost missed all of January but I'll try to be a little more diligent about my posts.
There are all sorts of technical points to "proper" photography and then sometimes you just have to shoot from the hip. Making mistakes is how we learn and improve. Today I'm going to give away one of my big composition "secrets" that will hopefully help you with your own shots.
When you line up a shot, what's the first thing you do? Do you 'focus on' your exposure, your framing/composition, or your focus? Like so many people, I usually have my camera set on Auto-Focus and half-press the shutter button when I'm framing a shot and then... zip!!! the lens snaps into focus.
There are many compositional elements of design/style like line, shape, form (light/dark), texture, pattern, colour, etc. I've learned a lot from my mistakes and I keep an album of some 'screwups' and 'outtakes' and what I stumbled across one day was that I found myself composing a shot sometimes with the camera set to manual focus and the image in the viewfinder was badly out of focus. SO PLAY WITH THE FOCUS SO IT IS BLURRY AND YOUR EYE WILL NOTICE THINGS YOU MAY NOT NOTICE SO EASILY WHEN IT'S IN FOCUS.
I've had great fun with this technique and do it quite often now to help me decide how to compose my shots. I just did this the other night when I was shooting pints of beer for a product shoot. It works especially well (for me) when there are areas of light and dark in the frame, because the eye is drawn naturally to the brightest part of an image. So if that's not where you INTEND the viewer to look, maybe you want to think about re-situating yourself/the camera or adjusting your lens to frame it differently. Alternatively, try squinting the next time you're looking through the viewfinder and see if any elements of design like light/dark or line/shape pop up and help you frame your shot any differently.