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In my opinion, more than the technical handling of the camera, what makes a photo stand out from the others is the composition, this includes several things, the orientation of the image, the angle at which it is taken, the content, the position of objects or people, colors, in short, everything that the camera cannot define (yet).

So I'm going to start the opposite of how photography courses normally start. I'm not going to talk today about technical issues of light, exposure or things like that. For now we are going to let the camera or cell phone decide that for us and we are going to operate the camera in automatic mode.

Let's analyze the basic elements of the composition:

- Identify the center of interest. The most important thing is to be clear about what we are taking the photo of so that this is obvious in our image and thus capture the interest of the observer. A photo that is not clear about the objective will go unnoticed. The subject of our photo must be well focused and preferably not located in the center.

- Check the background: Make sure that there are no objects or colors that steal attention from our subject. If so, we must move the subject or change the angle to avoid, for example, a sign coming out of someone's head. . If there are many colors in the background, it distracts the observer's attention and takes away the importance of the object we are taking the photo of.

In these two images we see the difference that the background has distracting elements, changing the position from where the photo is taken a little has a great impact on the result.

- Check the edges of the image: As with the background, it is necessary to check that there are no tree branches, someone's arms, parts of other objects entering our image, this creates distraction, and if possible we must move or move the subject, change the angle of the photo to eliminate those distractions.

- Orientation: Normally we get used to using the same orientation, vertical (“portrait”) or horizontal (“landscape”), but it is a good idea to try both orientations when looking for the frame for our photo.

- Straight horizon: It is very important to make sure that the photo is straight, that the horizon is horizontal, pay attention that the door and window frames are aligned with the vertical. Crooked photos lose interest unless it is intentional. Lately, since the preferred orientation for “selfies” on social networks is vertical, it is widely used to take the photo diagonally, breaking this rule. The important thing is to do it on purpose and not by mistake.

- Aspect Ratio: The width:height ratio of the image also influences the composition and is important for the final destination of the image. For example, if the aspect is 3:2, it means that if the longest side is 3 cm, the other side will be 2 cm. The most common aspects are:

  • Digital cameras typically have two options: 3:2 and 16:9.

  • iPhones offer the options of 3:4, 1:1, when shooting with the camera app. If another application is used, it may have different aspects, for example, in WhatsApp and in the “stories” of Instagram and Facebook, the aspect is 16:9.

It is good practice to leave a little space at the edges when taking the photo in case the final appearance we need does not match what our device produces and it is necessary to make size adjustments in the edition.

Comparación de las diferentes proporciones
Comparación de las diferentes proporciones

- Point of view: The place from which the photo is taken completely changes the image and gives it a totally different meaning. It is advisable to look for different points of view, crouch down, take the photo from the floor, stand on something and take the photo from top to bottom, the idea is to try to show our subject from a different point of view than the one we always see it in, so we will have a more interesting photo. The point of view also makes the background change and helps give more importance to our subject.

- Perspective: The angle at which the photo is taken also has a great impact on the image, what is closer to the camera will look larger than what is further away, so, if it is a person and we are taking their image A photo from the bottom up will make the body look bigger than the head, “fattening” that person. You have to move and analyze various angles, looking for the one that is most favorable for the subject.

Here we see two images of the same subject, one at ground level and the other from above.

- Position of the main subject: Generally the ideal is not to put our subject in the center of the image, there are several theories that have been studied by artists since before the invention of photography, such as the rule of thirds.

- Rule of thirds: It involves imagining two vertical and two horizontal lines so that the image is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. The four points where these imaginary lines intersect will be the strongest points and the ideal is to place our focus on one or more of these points. In the case of a landscape, for example, it is recommended that the horizon be aligned with one of the horizontal lines and not completely in the center, this gives movement and dynamism to the image.

Ilustración de la Regla de los Tercios
Ilustración de la Regla de los Tercios

- Lines and curves: The idea is to look for lines and/or curves that help direct the observer's gaze through the image, leading them towards our point of interest.

Las curvas de la carretera guían la mirada del observador a través de la imagen.
Las curvas de la carretera guían la mirada del observador a través de la imagen.

- Fill the frame: We must ensure that the subject is the most important thing in the image, this can be achieved by using most of the space with our subject, avoiding including distracting elements or elements that compete with the subject for the observer's gaze. For this you can zoom in or physically get closer to the subject.

- Framing the subject: The use of elements present in the image that frame the subject helps to highlight the importance of this.

Foto en paris abajo de la torre Eiffel

- Direction: Just as lines help direct the observer, it is important to take into account the direction of movement shown in the image. For example, the car or bicycle is entering the photo, not leaving it, or the person's gaze is inward and not outward, thus, the observer's gaze remains in the photo.

Foto de velero con cielo nublado
Aquí vemos el horizonte alineado con la línea imaginaria inferior y el velero está entrando a la imagen.

These are some recommendations to keep in mind when taking a photo and that can help you obtain more impressive images without needing much technical training in using the camera. You don't always have to follow them, in fact, in some cases doing just the opposite will produce a spectacular image, but it is necessary to be aware of what you are doing and be clear about the desired final effect.

Please write to me or leave me a comment if you have any topics you would like me to cover in other blogs. You can sign up on my page to receive updates and follow me on social media.

Thank you and see you next time!

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