To advance our goal of structuring competitions to provide a meaningful learning experience for our members, we have shifted the assigned topics this year from static objects such as “barns” or “windows”, to focus more on composition guidelines and photographic techniques. Links to websites with examples and tutorials are provided so members can delve into each category and learn to improve their photographic skills and artistic vision.


Month  Leading Lines One of the tools you can use as a photographer to create a meaningful composition is to use leading lines. Leading lines are used to draw the viewer’s eye through a photograph. They are intentional or unintentional, natural lines created in the space of the photograph and are used to create a visual narrative in the composition. Leading lines are also used to draw your eye to a focal point in the shot that you would like to highlight.  Anything with a definite line can be a leading line. Fences, bridges, even a shoreline can lead the eye.




   Rule of Thirds The rule of thirds is one of the most useful composition techniques in photography. It's an important concept to learn as it can be used in all types of photography to produce images which are more engaging and better balanced. The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, like a tic-tac-toe grid. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. The idea is that an off-center composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject.






By using repetition, we are making our composition more powerful. If an element is repeated many times, it creates patterns which can strengthen the image. There are many ways to show repetition:

Repeating shapes – shapes are very effective in expressing repetition. Circles, squares, triangles and other geometric shapes are used in the composition to provide tension. They can also be found almost everywhere you look, from the curves of hills and sand dunes to the rectangular bricks making up a wall.

Repeating colors – colors are another way to show repetition or patterns. Even if the shapes may not be the same, balance can still be maintained by having the same color shown at certain areas in the shot.

Repeating lines – this can almost immediately strengthen the image's composition. Repeating lines can draw and keep the viewer's attention. Parallel lines are often found to be pleasing to the eye because of the rhythm they convey.




   Depth of Field Managing depth of field is one of the most important tools at your disposal. Knowing how to make the parts of your image you want sharp and the parts you want to be out of focus, is a great artistic tool to create great images. Examples include using a narrow Depth of Field in a portrait to separate the subject from its background, or using a narrow Depth of Field to de-clutter a background and focus on the foreground of an  image.




   Motion There are many ways to capture motion in photography. One method is Suspended Movement - use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. Another is Motion Blur, usually produced at very slow shutter speeds.  It can come from either side of the camera: when, between the time the shutter opens and the time the shutter closes, either a) you move or b) an element within your frame moves. That means you might seek out opportunities in which you can capture a subject’s movement amidst the stillness of the setting (a tripod can be helpful!), or you might introduce movement to a motionless setting with intentional camera movement (as by panning, zooming, or rotating ). And remember, motion is not confined to living subjects; it happens all around us in ways we may not always recognize: clouds move through the sky, shadows and light move across the floor, leaves rustle, curtains billow in the breeze




   Fill the Frame Fill the frame with as much of the subject as you can. This can be done by getting in extremely close, or simply changing your angle or perspective. Any distracting background is eliminated, and the image is much more intimate, viewed at an eye-to-eye level.




   Abstracts Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object.  Abstract photography concentrates on shape, form, color, pattern and texture. The viewer is often unable to see the whole object. The subject of the photo is often only a small part of the idea of the image. Viewers may only know the essence of the image subject or understand it by what is implied.




   Minimalism Minimalism is a very subjective concept in the art world. The Webster dictionary defines it as follows: A style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity. Many of us are drawn to ‘less is more’ with simple lines, geometric patterns, strong shadows, contrasting colors, lone subjects, etc. Deciding what to leave out of the frame to make a stronger image can be a difficult exercise. Minimalism -think about the concept behind this assignment in not just your composition, but in the mood your photo evokes. Don’t forget that minimalism is also a feeling.” Anyone can shoot minimally, but can you make the viewer feel something — emotionally, intellectually, or creatively?  Does your image spark curiosity or imagination? This final competition assignment may be the most challenging yet!




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