Friday, May 11, 2007

Exploring Boundaries with Composition

I do have standard composition shots of this male western tanager. However, among those standard, normal style photos I did manage to snap one that was a little different. As he hopped over my head and just barely into my frame, he glanced down curiously at my lens- making for a unique perspective, and somewhat unusual composition for a nature photograph.

Now bear in mind, this is what most people expect in a standard wildlife composition:

Note that the camera and bird seem to be about level with one another, the bird is neatly perched and appears to be looking directly into the lens. Not too interesting but typical- check just about any Audubon Society field book... you will see them by the hundreds.

The unique image still holds true to the rules of good composition. The rule of thirds is followed, but in a slightly less conventional way. A unique perspective is used to add some interest and interaction with the subject, and important features such as eyes are still sharply focused. The negative space is divided by the branches the bird is resting on- narrowing near to his face and drawing the viewers eye to the subject (not that he could be missed dressed in summer yellow and orange).

What makes it different and unique is its feel. The bird seems to beckon, and even play with the viewer. Not everyone will like it...heck, not everyone likes any particular image- such is the nature of the arts. That being said, many will stop and look at it longer, consider it for what it is, because it is not the norm.

I encourage you in your excursions to photography- be it a point and shoot or the best equipment on the market- to play while you shoot. Mess with rules, change them if you must- and find a unique perspective. You may be very surprised, and even pleased with the results.

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