Composition and angle in photography

Just before Sam started college, I bought her two photography books (okay, that’s in addition to all the other photography books I’d been buying her for the past two years). One of them is… Ummm, this is the part where I stood up and started hunting for the book which I was sure I left in the Blue Room but which, surprisingly or not, wasn’t there. Doesn’t that happen to you? Just when you need to check something for details, you can’t locate it. But when you aren’t looking for it, it’s just lying there. Like my key ring. Most of the time, I know where it is but just when I’m about to step out of the house, it’s nowhere. Yah, yah, yah. I know, it’s called burara. Whatever.

I was talking about the photography books I gave Sam, wasn’t I? Right. Anyway, I was reading one of them the other day — at least I’m sure that the book is about composition — and the author provided several examples to show how composition can make or break a shot. He has several suggestions too that sent me on an exercise session. Not gym exercise but photo exercise. See, in photography, there is very little you can learn if you just stick to books. You really have to digest what you’ve read and APPLY the principles by taking photos.

Okay, so composition means what to include and exclude from the frame. With our dining area as my subject, I composed four photos using a wide-angle lens.

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What to include? The dining table and chairs naturally. And the features of the room which include wide windows and double doors that open to the lanai. All the objects that needed to be included are included in the photo above. But the symmetry is all wrong. All the colors — orange curtains and dark furniture — are all on the left side while too much white is on the right side.

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So, I took another photo. Was it really necessary to include the whole door? Not really. So, perhaps, this is a better shot.

But it kinda looked boring to me.

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I went a few steps up the stairs and started shooting from there. I now have this third photo which is very similar to the second except for the angle. Instead of the very common eye level shot, this one shows off the features of the furniture better. The round base of the dining table is even visible.

Good enough?

But. BUT. There is an adjacent breakfast counter. And it’s as much a part of the dining area as the dining table and chairs are.

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Comes now the fourth photo where part of the breakfast counter is visible.

Obviously, intention is a huge factor when composing a photo. If my intention were simply to show the dining table and chairs, even if I had totally left out the doors, the photo would be sufficient. But since I wanted a photo that represented the entire dining are, I had to include everything. And by everything, I not only mean the architectural features like the windows and the doors but everything related to dining. Naturally, the breakfast counter (or, at least, a portion of it considering that it is not a main feature of the dining area) had to be included.

More examples? Click on the link to page 2 and I’ll try to relate composition with angle.