A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “photography

Butter pats

Humble things attract my attention, especially if well lit.

Butter pats at Erddig by Adrian Nixon

Butter pats at Erddig

This slanting sunlight gently picked out the detail of these wooden butter pats on a whitewashed wall at Erddig in Wales.

The level of detail is especially pleasing as all the light and dark tones have reproduced nicely in this picture.

It radiates a kind of timeless calm for me.  I could come back on another summer day in a hundred years and still find the same scene.



As you’ll have gathered by now I’m interested in how far I can push a picture and still have you recognise the human form.

Here is my latest offering:



Another way of looking at this was expressed by a friend “Why on earth did you buy a camera that can capture tens of millions of pixels only to take blurry snaps like a box brownie?!”

You’ll have probably guessed that to take shots like this you need a lot of control over the camera, to override its programming to take the sharpest pictures….. just like everyone else.

I like making the effort to be a little different.

Creating a sense of calm

The calm is created by the rhythm of the repeating lines of the lime trees in this picture.  The repetition is  reassuring the more we look at the image.

I took a variant of this shot with some people walking down the aisle.  I found they altered the sense of calm. so I chose this photograph to share with you.  The mind can wander more when people are absent from a Landscape.

Avenue of Lime Trees

Avenue of Lime Trees

There are no threats to us here, it feels as though you could walk into the picture and explore the avenue in complete safety.  The protective canopy of the trees reinforces this subliminal feeling of care and safety.

Composing for Emotions

Emotions are tricky things.  It is so easy to get it wrong and strike a discordant note.

All photographs evoke an emotional response at some level.

In my experience pictures with powerful emotional content are rarely manufactured, and tend to be found.

I found this composition – I’m interested in what you think:

toy swing pram  copyright adrian nixon

Toy Swing Pram IMG_6395

People I’ve shown this to have reacted in the same way, it seems to pull at the heartstrings.

The composition is quite simple using framing and a central theme that compliments the portrait format.

The blurred nature of the picture seems appropriate too.

If you are affected by this picture I can offer reassurance if you leave a comment.

Content Contrast

Having too much of one theme in a photograph can sometimes be ok but is ok good enough?

Try introducing a contrast of content as well as colour in a picture and you can improve the composition and make it more interesting.

In this first picture you’ll see the contrast between the door, the bottle and the brush, boldly human artefacts.  the flowers in the pots add a splash of contrasting colour as well as a natural touch.

I shot these photographs a few days ago at Parceval Hall in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales.  A lovely place.

doorstep flowers 1
Doorstep Flowers 1

In the comparison picture I moved a little to the right

Potted Flowers
Potted Flowers

Can you see how the brush is now a distraction and not part of the composition.

The overall effect is nice , partly because your attention is brought more explicitly to the reducing height of the pots that echo the steps on the left of the photograph but I prefer the first picture as there is more interest.  The bottle brush and door bring the human presence into the imagination, I wonder who lives there?

Mixed verticals and strong lead in lines

See what you make of this one.



The first thing you notice is the shape of the trees emphasised by the repeating pattern

Then the strong lead in lines capture the eye.

Composing without the Golden Section (2)

This photograph does not follow many of the conventional rules.  It is asymmetric and not composed with the golden section.


Galaxy 1

It works for me though. The colours make this picture and the starburst highlights make it look like a picture that NASA’s hubble telescope might have taken.

It is more earthly, but quite what is difficult to tell.  this underlying mystery holds the attention after the bright colours have done their work.