Going with the basics – a simple way to see subjects

Stones And Shell by Netkonnexion, on Flickr

• Stones And Shell • (based on rule of thirds)
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Stones And Shell by Netkonnexion, on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

Simple composition leads to great images.

We have all photo-walked with idol intent and fired off a few shots. I find this unproductive. How about a photo-walk with a composition principle in mind? That helps concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Walk with intent…

No, not criminal intent – photographic intent! If you want to go out for a photo-walk then sit down for two minutes first. Think of a random, generic subject. Try something like “squares”, or “wheels”. Even something more challenging like “Feet” or “Glass” would be good. Your idea can be tailored to where you are going to be walking. In the park you might go for “holes”, or “Rocks” or even “puddles”. In other words, give yourself something to focus on, to look out for and to challenge your view of an ordinary scene. The aim is to capture as many different types of your chosen subject as you can and picture them in as many interesting ways as possible.

I have played this game with myself many times. It’s fun and you get home with a memory card filled with lots of pictures with a common theme. This is great, especially for making a diptych, triptych or other sort of photomontage (not a collage – that’s not a photographic term).

A new idea

Today, I came across the video below. It is a great video explaining three simple principles of composition. Back to basics is always a good idea – even for the experienced photographer. It helps re-ground us in a little simplicity from time to time. The new idea I spotted was to undertake a photo-walk with a compositional principle as your photographic theme. In the video Mark Wallace explains about “pattern”, “unusual point of view” and “rule of thirds“. Then in the second part of the video he goes on a photo-walk in the park where he is looking for these three composition elements.

Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 32

This idea of a shoot with a compositional theme produces pictures where the content does not necessarily have a common theme. Instead this game is great for helping you to practice putting composition into your pictures. It is a way to renew your enthusiasm for simple composition at the same time as having fun and improving your photography. You can do it for any of the compositional elements. However, keep it simple, this is an exercise in learning about or getting back to basics.

Have fun!

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

2 responses to “Going with the basics – a simple way to see subjects

  1. Excellent video- a good reminder to stick with the basics. It’s the best way to become a better photographer.