Seeing Creatively and Photo Composition

Get the eye for a good photograph in Heritage Key Virtual!As artists and photographers, we are constantly striving to see the world through different eyes… always looking for another perspective of the beauty we behold everyday. There is always something else to see, another angle to try, another ray of light casting shadows on a prospective work of art.

Let me tell you something I ask myself every time I take a photo: Is there another way to see this picture?

When taking photos of people, perspective is going to be something you will have to toy with quite a bit. The angle of your shot contributes to a certain realm of emotion within the image. Landscapes, still life photos, and other artistic shots can sometimes take a completely different turn depending on the angle you capture them from. And let’s face it, some angles, depending on your subject, are just better than others. Try playing with angles of the sun, looking up or looking down… get incredibly close, or incredibly far away.

The important thing to remember when taking photos is to always look for the “right” angle. If something feels wrong to you, change it! Don’t take a photo in the hopes that you will be able to “fix it” later. While you can crop a photo until your heart’s content, the angle you take the photo at will never change. So take your time to find the right one!

Essentially, the way you, the photographer, see your world is how the people you present your photos to will see it. Be creative. Never stop challenging yourself and above all, never stop looking for a different perspective. That next shot could be your masterpiece.

Composing YourShot

Another common thing I see with many photographs is this: a lot of open space centered around one central view point. Now, while I’ll get to the rule of thirds and cropping a photograph later, I’d like to point out here that when you’re taking a picture in a virtual space (or any other space, for that matter), your screen size is likely, and more often than not, much bigger than you will want your picture to be. Because of this, it is important to “crop” your image while you’re taking your photo as well. You don’t want to take a high resolution photo only to end up with an 800×600 cropped shot when you’re done, right?

Let me explain what I mean by this.

Ask yourself — what is my subject? What/Who am I trying to capture in this photo? For example, if you are trying to capture a romantic scene of a couple dancing in the moonlight, you’re obviously going to want to get some of the surrounding scenery in order to create a sense of mood and romance. However, as with most places in a virtual space, there is likely a lot of “noise” around that you will not want in the photo (pose balls, dead space, other people, etc). Do your best to eliminate these things from your shot when taking it. A photo of a couple dancing in the moonlight is fantastic… as long as those bright blue and flourescent pink pose balls aren’t eyesoring their way into your view! You all know what I mean.

Once you have a clear image in your mind of what exactly it is you want to achieve, then you can begin to compose your shot. Consider this step the grand piano to your Beethoven. See it. Shoot it. And above all, fill the frame with what you do want to capture, not what you want to crop out later.

Cropping and the Rule of Thirds

As I stated in the previous lesson, it’s very important to do any cropping you can during the photographing process. Obviously, because this is a virtual world, the amount of cropping you can do in world is fairly limited. This is where the “post-cropping-cropping” and the rule of thirds comes in.

By definition, the “rule of thirds”, also known as the “golden rectangle” or the “golden section”, is a compositional rule of thumb in photography and any other visual arts. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two-equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Think Tic-Tac-Toe for photographs. What this rule does is address the placement of your subject and help you determine where your strongest and weakest points of focus are.

Now, when you take a photograph, keep in mind that what you see is what you get — your snapshot tool will capture your subject, your lighting, your props… and any other excess “noise” in the frame. This is where the rule comes into play.

Once you’ve opened your photo in your post-processing software, you realize that you have all of this clutter in an otherwise fantastic photo (if you’re lucky… you don’t, but let’s say for the sake of learning, that you do). So you can do one of two things… you can either draw your “thirds” grid physically over your photo or you can imagine it drawn over your photo.

The key is to use the “thirds grid” to both position your photo subject and find the best crop for your photo. The rule is not set in stone, and as with many rules, it is meant to be broken at times. Consider it more of a guideline to an even greater composition and a tool to use to make your photo the best that it can be.

That’s all for this week!Have you started putting the rules to practice yet?Post a photo in the comments!We’d love to see it.