Photo Composition: Tips for Taking Digital Pictures

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Learning how to properly compose pictures can mean the difference between great looking pictures and bad ones. This article will give you useful composition tips for taking great digital pictures.

Filling the Frame & Clearing Clutter

There are exceptions to this as you'll see in a second, but generally filling the frame is one of the easiest things you can do to compose interesting photographs.

Most people make the mistake of trying to include too much in their picture and end up with a boring photo where nothing really stands out.

For example, if you are taking a picture of your child playing on a swing, you should fill the frame of you child on the swing and leave out the swing-set and other background clutter like Uncle Ed tending to the barbecue.

If you don't fill the frame with just your child, you will lose them in the background and won't be able to capture their excited expression from swinging high in the air. You can always take a different picture of Uncle Ed flipping burgers so you can capture just him in the picture.

The great thing about digital cameras is that you can see the picture in playback mode to make sure it looks okay. Then if something you hadn't noticed before is there, like a stray piece of litter on the ground you can re-shoot the picture.

Sometimes leaving lots of empty space in the photo also works well. You may want to fill two thirds of the picture of something like a sandy beach to get a special effect. Just be sure to get a close enough shot that your subject fills at least about a third of the frame. And that brings us to another important tip for taking digital pictures.

Rule of Thirds Technique

Most snapshots have empty (or cluttered) space on either side of the subject, with the subject dead center. That happens because most digital compact cameras with auto-focus have center weighted focus.

Rarely do professional photographer have the subject in the center because they use manual focus. However, if you have an auto focus camera there is a trick you can use to avoid center weighted focus. If you have a DSLR you can also use this trick too.

The "Rule of Thirds" is one of the most popular techniques. With this technique, the photographer has to visualize six evenly spaced lines breaking the viewfinder into nine even boxes. If you want to see grid-lines in your preview screen, there are some cameras that have grid lines superimposed over your image to make it easy for using the rule of thirds.

Using this grid in preview mode - or your imagination - you can frame the composition so that the subject (whether an individual, group or object) is on one of the lines of the grid. And you don't need to line this up exactly. Soon enough using the rule of thirds will become second nature with a little practice.

Focus on Focusing

So, it's time to talk about how to get your subject in focus without placing them directly in the center of your picture. This technique works great for subjects that are not moving, like people sitting down or a picture of a statue or tree. Here's what you do:

1. Using the viewfinder's focus point, move the camera until your subject is in the middle of the frame, and press the shutter release button half way down.

2. Wait for the green light to glow steadily signifying your focus is locked.

3. Keeping your finger pressed on the shutter release button so it stays pressed half way down, move the camera until you have the composition you want.

4. Holding the camera steady, press the shutter the rest of the way.

5. Always wait for the green light because that is the camera's signal that it has taken the picture.

More Composition Tips for Taking Digital Pictures (Or Film)

Focus on the the main point of interest of your subject. With people and animals, the eyes are often the most expressive area so they tend to be the center of attention.

To make photos pop, develop a photographer's eye for contrast. The brighter the brights and the darker the darks, the better the contrast.

If you want to add interest to your photos, try using different angles for a new perspective. Stand on a chair or lie on the floor. Don't always take your pictures from the same vantage point.

By using these tips, you'll be able to compose great pictures and display them on your wall for all to enjoy.

Autumn Lockwood loves hiking and taking pictures and is a writer for YourPictureFrames.com. Your Picture Frames offers a large selection of quality wood and metal frames. If you're shopping for frames with lots of picture openings or want a custom look visit our website our call us toll free at 1-800-780-0699.

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