Composing for the Edges

Plush greens at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California

While composing this photograph I had to imagine the merged files together as one because the 2×6 or 4×6, etc box of the viewfinder didn’t fit the format I was looking for. When we create panoramics we have to use our imagination and establishing the borders or edges of the frame are probably one of the most important parts of doing this. Here I took note on where there were dark areas around the bright waterfall so as the image is viewed there is more of flow downward without distractions along the edges of the frame. Any bright water on the edges would of pulled the eye towards it and disrupted the path and flow of where the water leads the eye through the scene. Here I chose to have an exit at the bottom where the water comes out of the frame. You can compose differently and keep the eye in the frame by keeping the white water away from the edges, this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to have any bright water near the frame just keep conscious thought of where you place it. Conscious thought is what composition is all about. Have you ever felt you placed all elements of frame exactly where they needed to be?

We can create typical images of scenes such as this one but another thing to keep in mind is has it been done this way? If so fine take the picture then move on to the next scene while looking for something different.

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8 Responses to “Composing for the Edges”

  1. speeddemon2 Says:

    Nice to see someone else is talking about composition. Everyone is a photographer today but simply taking pictures doesn’t make them good photographers. Without good composition and conscious decisions about framing the photo will always be nothing more than a snapshot.

  2. Richard Wong Says:

    Good advice Steve. I almost always try to compose for the edges. I spend more time looking at the edges of the viewfinder than I do the middle in fact. If all beginning photographers and the average tourist did that then I’m convinced that they would become much better just by doing that even if they knew nothing else.

    • Steve Sieren Says:

      Thank Richard, it’s been said too many times by others for me not to mention it at least once in the blog. Some tourist have that significant other time limit for composing though! Stop composing so much! I’m headed to Pasadena now to do some LA canyoneering down Eaton Canyon. Don’t know what to expect but if should be fun!

  3. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Well, if the proof of good composition is in the pudding, then this photograph takes the cake when it comes to waterfalls. Great advice, too.

  4. Susan Manley Says:

    Once again, another beautiful image, Steve, done with a creative method.
    And a big CONGRATULATIONS for your full page in the August issue of Outdoor Photographer!!! It is an amazing shot! It has been very memorable since I first saw it at your Sierra Club Camera Club presentation and again in Thousands Oaks. I think the mag could have done a better job printing the image as I recall it (maybe because I saw it on a large screen?), yet still very impressive. Obviously the mag liked it too because of the coverage they gave it. Once again, congratulations!

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