Monday, December 21, 2009

Instructor's Tip: No Bull....seye: Is Centering Appropriate?

Photo by Russ Burden

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

No Bull....seye: Is Centering Appropriate?

I’ve been taking pictures for over twenty five years. When I first started I did what most budding photographers do with their subjects. I placed them dead center in the frame and had a lot of extra compositional junk surrounding them. As I read more, took more pictures, joined a camera club, and studied great photos, I realized what an OOPS this was. As my photography evolved, it coincided with the advent of autofocus and did that ever create a profusion of dead centered compositions. With the focus point set dead center in the viewfinder, many photographers succumbed to locking in the focus point in the middle of the frame and not bothering to recompose the image to get the subject away from the middle of the image. Thankfully, camera manufacturers saw what was going on and created multi sensor focus points which helped alleviate bulls eyed subjects.

To create a more dynamic composition, it’s better to place the main subject off center in one of the power points of the frame. These points are often referred to as the rule of thirds. If you create an imaginary tic tac toe board in your viewfinder, the point at which you should place your subject is where the lines intersect. Doing so allows the viewer to bring his or her eye toward the main subject or it leaves room for the subject to move through the image. The choice of which power point the subject is placed can be determined by what surrounds it. If the peripheral environment has distractions and clutter, place the subject at a different intersection of tic tac toe lines and see if the composition is improved.

Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

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