Basic Composition of Pictures

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If you are not only new to DSLR but to photography in general, you should learn basic composition.
Most videos and instructions you will find come back to 5 basic principle for composition.
There are more "tips" for subsections of Photography, for example also capturing part of the beach in order to create more debt in those sunset photos.
Also that you should try to avoid capturing anything bright that may lead the eyes away from the subject.

There are however 5 basic composition rules that you should know right from the start.

5 Basic Composition Rules

Here are just a few of the main composition rules. Most important are the top 3.
In addition, remember that your picture needs a subject! It is not a real composition rules, but lack of a subject often destroys pictures taken by new photographers.

#1 - Rule of Thirds

This rule is considered the most basic composition rule. Simply stated it says that you should imagine that the picture is divided into thirds with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Whereas beginners tend to always put the main subject in the middle of the frame it usually is better to put it by on one of the dividing lines or the intersection between them (in the crosses in the pictures below).

Common example of how NOT to compose a sunset.
The sun is in the middle of the frame and the same applies to the lines of the horizon.

The best option in the example above would be to compose it correctly to begin with.
In picture below the composition has been changed by cropping it in Photoshop.
One of the changes is that the sun is no longer in the center.
More importantly, the horizon line is also no longer in the center. Giving more attention to the sky.

The most important to remember by this rule is to avoid the beginner's habit of always putting the subject in the middle of the frame.
If the subject is a person the "ideal" position would be to put the nose or the eyes in the crosslines of the lines.

#2 - Fill the frame

One common problem is to try to get too much of the surrounding areas or not choosing a particular subject.
For example the picture of the Jacaré below is taken in the Amazon. Because of the shape of the animal it can be tempting to leave space around the head.

To capture as much as possible of the animal, not a proper zoom was utilized.
As a result this picture is quite dull. Particularly considering that the animal is also not doing anything interesting.

When focusing on the most interesting part of the frame, the image gets more interesting.
Same applies to pictures with people. Showing the whole person makes a booring picture if this person is the subject.

#3 - Leading lines

A good pictures is often a result of the photographer leading the eye movement.
It often makes a good picture if it leads in to the object that are the main subject.
Examples of leading lines are often roads going from the bottom left towards the upper right corner.

You notice in the picture below of the Brooklyn Bridge NY that your eye moves from left to right following the bridge.
Small picture of the Brooklyn bridge
Full sized picture of the Brooklyn Bridge NY can be used on your site if you link back to

#4 - Patterns

Pictures with patterns are pictures where the same kind of objects are repeated over and over again in a picture.
This can be a harbour where similar looking boats are lined up. The kicker is often if one of the boats are in a different color.

#5 - Use of frames

This is the last composition I will mention here. Basically this is about using elements in your frame as a frame for the object.
Simplest is to use a real window when watching out. However, there are numerous ways to use it.
For example, you will find many pictures where the main object is between mountains ore the like.

There are numerous other composition rules particular to different areas. For example if you should take a picture of mom and a baby, a cool crop is to have both faces filling the frame and not trying to include the whole heads.