7 Easy Rules of Photography Composition

It’s been a while since I’ve written about photography and it is still one of the biggest parts of my life… so here are some of the things I have learnt over the past 8 years.
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Photography composition takes a beautiful photo and makes it great. It also makes you slow down the snapping and get you to think about the subject and also what you are trying to convey. After all, photography is a form of art, and a great work of art does indeed take time. That is part of the beauty of it.

1) Don’t Restrict Yourself to Landscape.

The only things that should ever be kept landscape is phone pictures and video. Then again these are just unspoken rules, but vines would have looked so much better if people just turned their phone 90 degrees to fill the screen.
Using a Vertical format for a landscape image does something magical to a subject.

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Aberystwyth Jetty, Ceredigion, UK – July 2016, Canon 6D 70-200mm f/2.8
In Landscape photography it is expected that you deliver landscape shots. However, to make your photography have an impact, there needs to be an element of the unexpected.
Additionally, a vertical frame gives you a taller area to deal with the foreground and the background. This really got me with seascapes, especially as sunset as it meant that I could pull down the colours of the sky and pull up the colours of the sea to create this balanced equinox of blue sky, blue sea melded with the sun’s evening display.

2) Lines!

 Lines are hands down my favourite thing to photograph. If you look at works by Rodchenko and the way he use lines in his black and white photographs, you may too be converted to the line life.
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Aleksander Rodchenko 1930
Straight lines can be beautiful, but don’t limit yourself there! Try to find a converging point, get lower to the ground and take the risk of getting a bit dusty for a shot. Or just try out several framings for a certain line. Find a line that makes your eyes follow into the depth of your image.
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Adriana, Byward Locks, Ottawa – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8
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HardKnott Fort, Cumbria, August 2017 – Lumix G7 (standard kit lens)
A good way to start with lines is to find a good building and play around with the lines against the sky or finding the lines within the building itself and take many many photos of different compositions to see for yourself what works best for you. Back in 2011 I did this in a Sainsbury’s Carpark in the UK and found some crazy shapes and lines I didn’t think I could find in a carpark!

3) Patterns & Symmetry

We are drawn to balance. This is what makes patterns and symmetry so powerful in any form of art, whether it is written word, traditional art, photography or even music. Patterns can be found in anything from manmade materials such as fences, buildings and pathways or naturally occurring such as plants, landscape and skylines.

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Llandudno

In this example of the pier in Llandudno the use of leading lines only emphasises the symmetry of the pier. What makes me really happy about this photo is the colour palette of muted blue and grey that balances the symmetrical properties. (Of course this is just an individual opinion and some may not like the balance and colours of this image, but of course art is individual and the artist does indeed know best 90% of the time.

4) Negative Space

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Le Mont Saint Micheal, France – Canon 6D, 18-40mm f/4.0

Negative space can be anything from a plain blue sky to a low aperture mush of colour. It is space that is not filled. We want to focus on a single subject the majority of time so use this to your advantage. Arguably you can use patterns as a negative space element, so long as it does not detract from the main visual, you’re good.

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Lake Windemere, UK – Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0
Don’t be afraid to use backgrounds as well like block colours, walls, floor for negative space with a subject. Also filling the frame with the subject/object can also have an effect much the same as negative space.

5) Natural Frames

Let things get in the way once in a while. Sometimes not having a “clear shot” is more interesting. While trawling the internet for examples of frame shots its always pictures of people in doorways and windows and I feel thats not a natural frame. Sure it looks cool and creates a frame in the photo, but it is not the kinda image that challenges the artist to get.

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Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, UK – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8

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Lake Windemere, UK, Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0

6) Focus Focus Focus

Where is the focus at? Are you concentrating on something close up or far away, and if so what levels of depth does your potential subject have? In this instance, take off the auto focus on your lens and really get in tune with what you want to capture.

7) Make Mistakes

This may seem like a stupid point, but I can not implore how important it is to f*ck up once in a while. If you don’t then how do you know you have grown or improved? There needs to be the balance of amazing yourself at what you can do as well as having the ability to review your work and realise what you can do better or what needs to be improved on.

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Back in Black (and White)

One can not begin to explain how excited one is now the hellish cold of winter has thawed and the promise of summer is heating our frozen souls…. So why not celebrate with all the photoshoots around the beautiful city of Ottawa! I am very lucky to have a great model friend to join me on my escapades, so big thanks to Adriana for your stunning face and patience of a saint.

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Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the city now is just behind the Chateau, above the locks due to the big sky, the Gatineau hills in the background and of course the consistency of the lines and style.

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Something I wanted to try out was playing with a figure on stairs. After being constantly inspired by Rodchenko’s work from the age of 15, it is time for me to actually try it out for myself. In this case using the organic lines of my model in contrast to the consistent solid lines that are created with the architecture of the stairs.

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Another thing about spring and summer is the warmth of light and the depth of shadows that are created.

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Safe to say I’ll be using the lines the city has to offer a lot more this season, as there are so many opportunities I can not say no too.

Stay tuned for more!

Toronto in Blue

Over the weekend I went to Toronto for the weekend. Being a short 4ish hour drive form Ottawa, what’s not to lose?

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I’ve been trying to stylise my pictures for a unique look and the G7 lets me play with colour so much more than my Canon 6d. All the edits are made in Lightroom on RAW files and exported as Jpegs.

Basic Lighting Techniques

***This is just a basic introduction to lighting techniques and set up!***

Easily one of the most important elements of art, lighting is integral to any kind of photography.

3 point lighting

The standard lighting for everything photography and film.
lights

Key

The main light. If you are using 1 light then it is always the key light. Usually this is the strongest in the scene, and set at around 45 degrees to the subject.

Fill

The Secondary light. This is usually softer and set opposite the key light.

Hair/Back

The third light, usually placed behind the subject. This highlights the outline and creates the 3d effect.

Split Lighting

This is quite self explanatory, having a split contrast between light and dark. This effect is usually created with a just a key light to highlight half of the subjects face.

Fill Lighting

Used with just two lights, the key and the fill, fill lighting is used to light a face of object fully.

Ottawa Photo Post

I haven’t been driven enough to write loads recently, and being back in an education that seems almost full time (except the strike) means that I haven’t had a spare moment to create a post that gives justice to my absence… So here are some photos instead of Ottawa just before the dark sets in.

 

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All taken on a Lumix G7.
Can not recommend this little camera enough.

Moving to Mirrorless

**Sorry for the no show I’ve had so much happen (all will be revealed) ***

I haven’t really been posting photography related things recently, mainly due to the combination of working very long shifts and being in the awkward waiting transitional period of graduating and continuing my life as an adult…

Camera equipment can be bulky and heavy, and that is not just the price tag. The amount of times I’ve had serious shoulder and neck ache from carrying two Canon DSLRs should have told me by now that I should either go to the gym to work on my weak muscles, or invest in some lighter equipment. As in previous posts my gym ambition and fitness is not exactly consistent and somewhat non-existent, so maybe the way of lighter equipment is the forward.

Canon has been a big part of my life since I was 14, when my parents bought me a 450d. Since then I’ve used a 550D, 6D, 60D, 70D and a 7Dii. (disclaimer: I haven’t owned them all.) However, the more I’ve upgraded and improved, the more I’ve realised that maybe a lighter alternative may be best for me. Especially when I’m just taking pictures (dare I say it) for fun.

Enter the Lumix G7 in my life. 

Compared to my Canon 6D, this is a whole new world of camera. If anything it’s got better shortcuts and buttons so I don’t have to move the camera away from my face when I’m taking pictures. Mainly thanks to the electronic viewfinder, but also to the handy wheels that are just so easy to use. It also is a third of the weight.

Picture quality is obviously not the same as a full frame. My expectations were that the G7 would produce flatter images. This actually to some extent, gives me more artistic scope when it comes to the editing side of the photography process. The images may seem cooler and flatter, but you can do so much with them.

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As shot
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Quick Edit

 

The detail it captures even when the photos aren’t set up properly is great, but also means that I need to work a bit more on the taking bit….

Another pro to this purchase is the G7’s video capabilities. Canon is seeming to be very behind and almost backwards on the video compatibility of their professional series. This added to their want for a better low light performance over dynamic range makes me sceptical of why I bought into the franchise back in 2015…
(However video will be another post)

More to come on video capabilities and 1 to 1 comparison with my 6d so keep posted!

Have a great September!

 

Framing a Day #1

London

How do you frame what is important in a day, a week, a month? I’ve challenged myself with an a5 frame to focus on the things that need to be in focus rather than focusing on the frame.

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Dancing round London in barefeet after acquiring blisters on blisters gave a new sense of freedom to my idea of framing things.

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Background I’m told is just noise to our own melody. We choose our tune, whether it is a solo or a chorus.

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All in all it’s just a thing I’m doing to try and prove artistic license. I am just a random female holding up a frame to take pictures of it to try and find some weird hidden artsy meaning. And it is working…..

Keep posted for more.

Prone to Target

*Little Blog Post on life and photography*

Archery is not my first target sport. You could say that when I was younger I was attacked by paper, so now I shoot it in various ways, but to totally honest I don’t know why I do target sports.

It all began back in the day of the skinny weird teenager me. I was introduced to rifle shooting, firstly by air rifle and later to .22. Every Friday was taken up by shooting tiny targets at 25 yards with a rifle that was more like to do damage by using as a club than as its manufactured use. For the first few years of my shooting life, I was, I admit, convinced the only safe and practical way to shoot a rifle was lying down. Yes, it is a very safe way of shooting and arguably the stabilist way to shoot, but it is not the only way. Proof that I was not a smart child…

From Friday prone shooting, I moved to Monday Sports shooting. By the time I was 17, my parents got me the best gift I could ask for at the time; my very own Ruger 10/22. Nothing flashy, just a .22 sporting rifle perfect for the competitions I endeavoured to compete in. (disclaimer: By this point I did have a Firearms Certificate and been part of the club for around 3 years, so my parents weren’t being irresponsible. If anything they were encouraging me in a sport I was starting to flourish in.)

With my rifle club, there was opportunity to shoot larger calibers at longer distances bi-annually at the NRA shooting ground. These competitions were a bit of fun, nothing serious and a way to be introduced into full bore and the fun side of target shooting. Usually I participate when I’m free but the recent years have seen my time for rifle shooting dwindle, being replaced with archery, photography and just adult life.

Target shooting is a sport that relaxes me. It’s a hobby where you can do as much or as little as you like, for example I know many people who load their own rounds, and I know people who prefer to buy them. I know people who shoot for fun, a way to just socialise, let their stress out and people who are all for competitions. The range of people you get is astounding – different backgrounds, jobs, lives and even nationalities, it’s not just a sport for people burdened with money. (Although it does help sometimes).

Thats about it for my shooting love, looking forward to getting the time to get back into shooting!

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The photo bit that y’all came for…

I’ve reverted back to the 6D for shoots where there is no need for a fast shutter as it is a superior camera. (my own opinion.)

So the shoot was on a relatively overcast day, nothing too white-out grey horror show all photographers fear, but close. Due to the way I was taking pictures however, the sky wasn’t a main feature or focus. Mainly because shooting is a lying down sport.

Another thing about shooting is that it lacks a lot of motion so there isn’t going to be epic running shots or jumps. It’s just lying there, squeezing a trigger and reloading. I also found that people prefer the upper body shots (camera not gun) to whole body shots mainly because it can be awkward. My golden rule of 45 degrees works in this instance too!

Have a great day, thanks for the read and take a look at my things!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

Don’t Worry: Weddings

I’ve freaked myself out over wedding photography. After honing my instagram feed to inspirational photographers (who obviously use many assistants and lighting apparatus) I am geared up to add Briony-Molly Photography to the inspiring list. Alas – I do not have a plethora of assistants or a comprehensive flash, let alone an ample lighting set. Good start.
However, what I do have is a Canon 6d with a f/1.8 50mm lens and a 7dii with a f/4.0 17-40mm or 25-105mm lens. The 7dii needs a flash regardless of the lighting indoors which is not great, but the 6d can work without flash to very low lighting. Bit of an odd pairing but it works!

As I’ve only ever been to 3 weddings one being family and the others being a plus one to the other half, so I had no idea about weddings from a photographers angle. I think I read wayyy too many posts on how to make the special day magical, how to work the lighting, how to organise the day and it just disorganised me more. If anything it’s furthered my ambition to work with horses more, as a wave of a cap gets their full attention.

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Here’s my ideal run of doing wedding photography

Consultation

It may be a Briony-thing but I prefer to meet people before I have a shoot with them. Albeit an hour before with a cuppa and a biscuit, getting to know the subjects and what they want to achieve out of my presence is somewhat imperative.
Say a couple want to have a documentary style or a more alternative style; you need to know this. Some couples may want more black and white. Some may just want the staged family shots. One thing is right out all the things you can do and get them to say what they prefer and want. People love choice. Its worked so far for me…

Be Prepared

Like any photography situation you need to be prepared. But in this case, have spare batteries in pockets and at least two cameras ready to take the candid f/1.8 shots and the more wide angle group shots. With the venue, do the research- visit it if possible to scope out the good natural light and the pretty spots. Maybe even google the venue and weddings to see what others have done – proof of my initial cluenessless.

Lighting changes constantly, so do people so be agile!

Be Bold
Confidence is key. Relatives and alcohol is not a great mix so stand your ground be firm but nice and get people in the shots. Tell people to move and take multiple shots until you are happy. They will thank you later.

Have Fun
Don’t do a Briony and worry yourself over nothing. Getting stressed shows in your work. The more relaxed and fun you are having will reflect in your work when you are in post-production.

Be Yourself
We all have a unique style so don’t try and be someone else. People hire you for you not someone else so if they want a certain twist then thats acceptable but if you physically can not do someone else’s style, don’t do it and be clear to them about that.

Don’t worry, smile, get a coffee on the go and have a chill day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography