Simple Tips - Ray Bilcliff

Composition is everything

 The best time to walk along the shore for taking great photos is around dawn and sunset. The light at these times is warmer and softer with longer more pronounced shadows. You must look at everything closely. Look for the little things. Look for the light and colours. There can be a lot of beauty in a pebble. It is never  JUST a pebble.

 Now this is important. Most people will think about what they are going to photograph rather than how thy are going to photograph it. Composing your picture is the most important thing of all. You great new camera can do a lot of things, but it can not compose an image, that is all up to you. So take your time and get it right.

 Sometimes getting down low can have a great effect on making the picture stand out. When shooting children or pets or flowers in the garden, get down to their level. You need to shoot your subject from an angle it is not normally seen from.

 Composition will make or break your image, so get it right or give up photography for ever. Well at least until you have learnt some things. Sometimes the right composition is as simple as moving the camera a few inches this way or that way. So take lots of shots from different places and different angles. Try different camera settings for f.stop and shutter speed.

 Remember that it is not just on the sea shore that you do these things it is everywhere. Imagine you visit a well known place and you see all the tourists pointing their cameras and clicking away. Now you know how everyone does it, but you are not everyone, so now you have to think about how you are going to do it that will make it different and better.


 All photographers know that composition is the #1 rule of photography. And in good composition we should observe the rule of thirds. Shooting the landscape or seascape normally requires the horizon to be in the top or bottom third of the picture. This is a true and it should be observed in most scenes, but it can be broken if the composition demands it.

 Also we should observe the 123 rule. 1. Foreground. 2. Middle Ground. 3. Background. This is important for every shot.

 In the photo of St. Marys Lighthouse in the UK. You will see that I have observed the rule of thirds and the 123 rule. And I got down low for the shot. So you are seeing the lighthouse from an angle that it is not normally seen from. This is the best composition I could get for the scene.


Just as the name says leading lines guide the viewers eye into the picture and to the main point. In my shot of Lake Harmon in  the Florida Everglades the eye starts with the clump of grass around the first rock and then the other rocks lead you out to the sunrise.

Those rocks are ancient coral from the time when Florida was a shallow sea. They still have sea shells in them. They are only visible because of a 5 year drought that has the water table so very low. 

Leading lines can be anything that is pointing into your picture so just position your self to make the line go where you want it to. Just be sure that it is not going out of the picture as that would be bad composition.

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