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iPhoto 5: The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition by Derrick Story, David Pogue

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Chapter 2. Composing Brilliant Photos

If your eyes are bleeding from the technical underbrush of Chapter 1—bells, whistles, megabytes—switch on your right brain. This chapter has little to do with electronics and everything to do with the more artful side of photography: composition.

What follows are four tips that photographers have been using for years to create good pictures regardless of the camera type. These time-honored secrets do wonderful things for digital imaging too. Good composition is just as important with a $199 digicam as it is with a $3,000 pro digital SLR—and just as enjoyable.

This chapter offers suggestions that will immediately improve your pictures. But first, a few words about composition itself.

Composition

Composition is the arrangement of your picture, the interplay between foreground and background, the way the subject fills the frame, the way the parts of the picture relate to each other, and so on.

Will the shot be clearer, better, or more interesting if you move closer? What about walking around to the other side of the action, or zooming in slightly, or letting tall grass fill the foreground? Would the picture be more interesting if it were framed by horizontal, vertical, or diagonal structures (such as branches, pillars, or a road stretching away)? All of this floats through a veteran photographer’s head before the shutter button clicks.

It’s easy to think, “Hey, it’s a picture, not a painting—I have to shoot what’s there.” However, the fact is that photography ...

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