Guidelines to composition
I am going to give ten "rules", but the number is arbitrary. You
should start with these, but listen to what the judges say and update your knowledge
as you go along. You will find that some judges place more weight on particular
guidelines and ignore others, and this often varies between the judges, so it can be
a good idea to keep notes on the judges for reference; which are their pet likes and
dislikes. This can be invaluable when selecting which images to enter.
Don't try to get everything in, but look for what is the main and most
interesting part of the scene and concentrate on that. Very often you can do this
by getting closer to your subject. For example you may notice a cartwheel mounted
on the side of a house and think that is interesting, but don't take the whole house
and garden, as then the cartwheel may not be noticed, and people will think the house
itself is the subject. Get in close so that the cartwheel fills the frame, with
just enough of the brick work in the background to give context and show it is mounted
on the side of a house.
2. ROT Rule of thirds.
Again that word rule, but it is known as that. It is not a rule as it
doesn't have to be 1/3-2/3, but it could be 2/5-3/5, or it could be the
golden ratio. Really it
is just avoid boring symmetry, e.g. centred four square symmetry, i.e. splitting the
image into halves or quarters. However symmetry can be effective and add to your
image as we shall see later. The key word is boring. If the
symmetry is all there is to the image and the subject does not have an interest of its
own, then the image may not do well.
Using the ROT can leave an empty void in the rest of the image, so try and
balance your main subject with a secondary supporting subject. Say you have a
lighthouse on the right then have some background shoreline and/or cliffs on the
left. Or if you have a boat in the foreground on the left, then have some
smaller boats (further back) on the right, or some seagulls.