Monkey Tip #1 – Khelp with Composition

Khelp. Get it? — You know, cause there’s kelp in the shot? K + Help Equals? Anyone? O well… At least my Cat thought it was funny. Anyway, take a gander at these two images.



Each was shot back to back at the same time of day and also after a half bottle of cheap white wine. A lovely thing about digital photography is that you can shoot all you want with no penalties except for a full hard drive. That being said, there really isn’t any reason why not to try flipping around the camera and trying different compositions. As a photographer, it’s your job to capture the moment and give life to a 2 dimensional representation of 3 dimensional space. It all starts with the content of the shot. What’s the subject? How did you frame it? Is it the best angle and vantage point? Did you remember to take the lens cap off? All these elements factor into a whole way before any post processing occurs. Think about it. You are getting ready to dump hours into / capturing / editing / finishing / re-editing / publishing / a photo. So what’s stopping you from taking different shots and angles to attempt to capture the scene correctly? Make Sense?

More often then not, amateurs don’t turn the camera to compose a vertical shot. Why overlook such a simple thing? It could be that we see the world in a horizontal, wide format. It certainly sounds fathomable. It could also be that we are just not used to doing it or we haven’t had enough practical experience framing shots in the appropriate format. Whats the quick answer to this problem? In this case, it’s flipping the camera vertical and firing off a clean set of 5 exposures. More than that though, it’s experimentation. Trial, error, more trial, and a seriously full hard drive.

Is there a point to all my rambling?

The simplest way to improve at anything is by doing. Period. Do books help? Sure. They certainly can’t hurt. Do tutorials from help? Certainly (I couldn’t resist the plug) but with all that reading and learning comes the inevitable requirement of application and practice.

With composition, It’s never an exact science. Even the rules of composition are meant to be broken sometimes. The best method for improvement has always been experimentation.

What’s the best method to get started with the best method?

Use your camera. Carry it everywhere. Shoot multiple angles, find multiple vantage points, try zooming in a bit or changing lenses. Then take all of the different versions and look at them. REALLY look at them. Try and break down which ones worked and which ones did not. Get the opinions of friends and family. Take note of which they like and why. Do they prefer the horizontal or vertical format? Ask them, where their eye travels in the photo or what they think is the subject of the photograph. Compare your feelings with the feedback you are getting. You might notice some similarities. You might get an overall appeal towards one of the compositions. Bingo! Now you are on the way to photographic enlightenment. You found something that worked. Now go do it some more!