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Nikon D600 Digital Field Guide by J. Dennis Thomas

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Appendix A: General Composition Tips

Photography, like painting, drawing, or just about any visual arts medium, has general rules of composition. These guidelines have been developed through the ages because, to put it simply, they work. That isn’t to say that every time you put your eye up to the viewfinder, you should strictly adhere to all or even any of the so-called rules of composition; sometimes the subject calls for a different approach. But when starting out, it’s good to pay attention to these tips because they will definitely help your images stand out from the general snapshots that a lot of people capture with their phone cameras.

Eventually, you will become accustomed to following the guidelines, and they will be second nature to you. At that point you will no longer need to consult the rules of composition; you will just inherently follow them.

One piece of advice that I was given while attending school was that it’s important to know the rules of photography because when you know them, it is easier to recognize when to break them.

Keep It Simple

One of the easiest ways to create an interesting composition is to keep it simple. Having a strong subject that is easy to pick out and focus on holds the viewer’s attention. Having a slew of competing elements in a composition causes it to be messy and distracting, which often leaves the viewer confused.

An easy technique for achieving simplicity in a photograph is to use a wide aperture and a shallow depth of field to ...

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