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Five Parts to a Successful Piece of Art

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Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:25 pm
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yoha_ahoy says...

Five Parts to a Successful Piece of Art

Part One – Simplicity

You want your main subject to be your main focus. Basically, don’t clutter your composition with unnecessary objects. Make that one object stand out! There are many ways to do this.

One way is to make the subject fill the frame. Crop everything else out before you take the picture. Don’t be afraid to step closer to your subject!

Also, avoid cuttered backgrounds. Often times you can change your position to place an immoveable subject behind something simpler. For example, a bird on a branch. A picture with less branches in the background is much less pleasing to the eye than one surrounded by the sky. To achieve this, simply move your point of view and your positioning next to the bird to there were no unnecessary branches.

Part Two – Rule of Thirds

This is just what it sounds like. Take your photo and draw imaginary lines on it, cutting it into thirds both ways.

Landscape (Horizontal Format):

Now aim your subject to land in the intersections of the lines for the most pleasing placement of your subject. Then, use the horizontal lines for placing your horizon lines. Rarely in a landscape photo is a horizon line ever placed in the center of the frame. It is simply bad form. Also, an obvious note: No tilted horizontal lines! Please keep horizon lines level, unless meant for purposeful artistic effect. But even then, a slanted horizon line is very difficult to pull off.

Portrait (Vertical Format):

This same concept applies to vertical objects. If you're taking a picture of a lighthouse, align the center of it with one of the vertical third points. Also, be sure to align the horizon line (usually the water) with the horizontal thirds as well for a perfect composition.

Part Three – Lines and Feelings

When it comes to the overall lines in the picture, different lines convey different feelings subconsciously.

Horizontal lines are calming, hence why many sweeping landscape photos are popular. Why do you think they have those in doctor’s offices all the time?

Verticals are stable, yet energetic. Think of upward motions in trees and buildings.

Diagonals are dynamic and exciting! What else is there to say?

Curves can draw the viewer’s eye into the picture. Roads anyone?

Part Four – Balance

Visual balance has so many definitions, it’s usually easiest just to analyze the image to find if it has balance. The easiest balance to explain is symmetrical balance. This is exactly what it sounds like. The left side nearly perfectly mirrors the right, like a butterfly.

There is also asymmetrical balance. Say you have a picture of a swing set, and the person is off center. If there's enough balance and visual weight – enough stuff to make up for the person – it's asymmetrical.

Part Five – Framing and Cropping

Sometimes you need an object on the side of a frame to show proximity. Other times you can’t avoid it so you might as well use it to your advantage. For example, in taking a picture of a mountain, you don’t want everything in your picture to be background distance. Put some foliage framing the foreground. This gives proximity to the mountain and keeps your eyes from running off the edge of the frame. The point is to draw your viewer’s eye into the image.

In the case of some unavoidable framing, use it to your advantage! Some common ones are buildings and tree trunks. Use the edge of a building to block the side of an image. Same with a tree or other tall, vertical object that is not your main subject. The trick then is not to make it a distraction. Don’t make it take up too much space on the edge of your frame, nor too little. This is something you will have to figure out and judge on your own because it’s different for each picture.

Main Article by: yoha_ahoy
Editing by: JFW1415
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