Three Picture Elements from 42nd St Photo

You want to be a good photographer, that is why you are reading 42nd St Photo’s blog, right? Here is a look at the most basic elements of your picture:

No matter what type of photography equipment you have or how many photographic terms you can use with confidence, a photo has a subject, composition, and lighting. These three elements comprise the image you capture and create.

The subject is simple; it is the reason you picked up the camera to take the shot. Your subject can be a person, like a family member or a model. Your subject could be a place, like a farmer’s market or the boardwalk. Or, your subject could be a thing, like a sunset or statue. Anything you can take a picture of becomes the subject, and any subject can become a very beautiful or iconic image depending upon the last two elements: composition and lighting.

Composition is the way that subject is arranged in the frame of the image. When you move closer, or kneel, or shift the viewfinder to the side or an angle, you change the way the subject relates to other things in the picture. That relationship changes as the camera shifts and the variations in composition will affect the way the subject is portrayed.

Composition can be symmetrical and formal or it can be off-center and casual but generally the simpler the composition, the more pleasing it is to the eye. Much of the art of composition is learned; there are basics like ‘the rule of thirds’ and ‘balance’ that are identifiable in many images. You can find basic compostion tips in most manuals and photography guides like the offerings at 42nd St Photo.

The last element in all photographs is lighting. This element will make or break your composition and obscure or illuminate your subject. You can manipulate lighting to create effects…a profile silhouetted against a bright sky is backlit, with no detail of the subject except the outline. That may be exactly the effect you are after! A fill-in flash will change the exact same subject and composition and emphasize an entirely different aspect of that subject.

Professionals use a variety of lighting devices. 42nd St Photo carries the best of the selection available. Natural light varies also, from the soft indirect glow of a cloudy day to the sharply defined shadows of sunshine and the mystery of the dark night.

You combine these three elements, subject, composition, and lighting, to create all the photographs in your growing portfolio. The better your understanding of these basics, the better your pictures will be.



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