Composition in photography is the way an
object is placed in relation to the background, or the way a group of
objects are arranged in relation to one another and the background. In
a good composition the elements of the picture are positioned to give
the picture as a whole a unified effect.
Nature arranges things in its own way,
and the trick of a photographer is to compose his pictures carefully
out of nature s arrangements. Often one or more objects are -moving in
relation to the background. Birds might be flying across a landscape or
horses galloping around a race track. In situations of this kind I take
several pictures in quick succession, and then choose the best one.
Above all, patience is required. You
can't arrive at a place, quickly snap a picture, and go home expecting
it to be a great shot (although this does happen sometimes). If there's
time, good results are usually obtained after thoroughly studying the
locale, getting into the mood of it, and finding the best angles from
which the most interesting elements of a scene could be photographed.
Furthermore, when photographing something specific like the facade of a
historic building, it is helpful to know the time of day when the light
is at its best and when the shadows might add rather than detract from
the particular effect you are after.
When photographing fast-moving subjects
or candid portraits, you seldom have time for careful composition.
Under these circumstances a picture can often be improved by cropping
in the final print. Ideally, however, the picture should be carefully
composed in the camera at the time of shooting, especially when taking
There are no rules for composition except
good judgment and taste. The more one photographs, the more one becomes
aware of balancing light areas with dark ones, large objects with
small. I found that studying the work of great painters was most
helpful in training me to be aware of good composition.
Also, the more one reviews one's owns
work, the more one comes to recognize which pictures are dramatic,
which are flat, and what makes them so. There is no real substitute for
experience - in other words, learning trial and error.