Category Archives: Taking Better Pictures

Some hints and tips for taking better pictures, with the emphasis on composition.

Composition #1 – The Rule Of Thirds

Try to put the main point of interest in your picture at one of the intersections of the thirds.

Or devide the sky/land line on a 1/3rd 2/3rd ratio. Try to avoid putting the horizon half way down the picture.


[Over The Rainbow – horizon on the lower third, protruding flower is on the horizontal and vertical third intersection]

[Sunrise, Calanais – horizon on the lower third, sun is on the intersection of the horizontal and vertical third]

[Pienza Hillside – high horizon on the upper third]

[Pencils IV – point of focus on the left hand third, but half way up this time]

Composition #2 – Lead-In Lines

Try to encourage the viewer’s eye to go deeper into a picture. Lead the eye around the frame by using:
[straight lines, gentle curves]

[imaginary lines formed by picture elements]

Always make sure there is an object at the “stop” point where the line finishes, which reinforces the lead into something tangible.


[The Time Tunnel – lines converge towards the figure in the bottom left hand third]

[Sunlit Cloisters – imaginary lines formed by arches and shadows converge towards the two windows at the end of the corridor]

[The Long Trek For Water – curved line formed by the footprints lead to the figures at the water hole]

[Lights On London Hill – the snaking s-curve leads off into the distance, but the presence of the car heading towards us stops the eye wandering off too]

Composition #3 – Using Symmetry

The rule of thirds is useful for many subjects, but not all.

If you see a symmetrical subject, it’s often better to compoase so that the line of symmetry is right in the middle of the picture.

Take care to make sure the symmetrical subject really is in the middle – slightly off-centre and it will look odd.


[Transporter Bridge – I stood right in the middle of the roadway (waiting for the bridge to com back to our side) and got everything balanced]

[Southwark Roof – taken from the middle of the aisle, also showing lead-in lines pointing to the stained glass window at the end]

[Victorian Hangar – carefully composed, with all lines leading towards the window at the end of the room]

[Picture Window – sometimes you get lucky with two planes of symmetry – here the horizontal and vertical framing was very carefully controlled to be equal on opposite sides, even though the main content (the reflections) are not perfectly symmetrical]

Composition #4 – Framing Elements

There are two aspects to framing your pictures:

  • Make sure unwanted things don’t cut into the side of your photos – always look around the viewfinder (or LCD screen) to check
  • Pictures can be enhanced by carefully framing the view – eg. with tree brances


[Le Chat Qui Pêche – the foreground path and overhanging trees frame the scene top and bottom, and the leaves cover up some boring sky]

[Ingatestone Hall – the horizon is placed high up, while the tree and its shadow appear to wrap around the building]

[The Castle Keep – I moved into a position where the archway framed the buildings beyond and the sunlight reflected from a window appeared behind the lamp fitting]

[Scrum Between The Posts – a scrum at the other end of the field, framed through the posts, provided a shot which showed more context to the situation]

Composition #5 – Creating Depth

Depth can be emphasised with good lead-in lines.

Also, make sure there is something of interest in the three areas of your picture:

  • Foreground [rocks]
  • Middle distance [sheep]
  • Background [hills]

It’s those thirds again…


[Beached Lobster Pot – getting up close to the lobster pot (with a wide-angle lens) made it appear bigger in the frame; the rocks lead through the middle ground to the background hills]

[Heavy Traffic – the huskies in the foreground lead to skiers (middle ground) and hills beyond]

[Twilight Expedition – foreground interest is provided by the figures and dinghy, mid-ground is the tethered boat and more hills in the background]

[My Imaginary Friend – foreground girl is reflected to give some middle-distance interest; the background is not so significant in this shot]