The rule of thirds is probably the most widely known, and well used compositional tool in photography. These other techniques can make a difference in your images which is six techniques you can use to improve your compositions and your photos. Once you understand them, they are pretty self explanatory.

  1. The Golden Ratio or Fibonacci SpiralGolden-Ratio-717x462Use the Golden Ratio to enhance your compositionMany famous works of art use the Golden Ratio in their composition and it is often seen in nature’s own designs. Think of the spiral of a snail shell, how it curls in on itself. That shape conforms to the Golden Ratio. It is a ratio of 1:1.618.
  2. Unity

    Unity is about order. Repetition can be very powerful in this regard. You can repeat shapes, lines, or colours in your image. By doing so you create a unified view of the scene, and this in turn gives a very powerful compositional effect. Unity can bring a calming feel to the image, try and find a subject that portrays this.Unity-717x490The lines and the rivets in the image make it feel uniform, as does the lack of colour

  3. Coherence (focus)

    Coherence is more about similar types of elements or shapes in your scene. It appeals to the viewer’s sense of order, and can make for very interesting images.Coherence-400x600Similar shapes and colours make this image feel more coherent

  4. Balance and RhythmBalance is pretty much as it says, the idea here is to try and arrange the elements in your scene so that the image is symmetrical. This can be done using lines and shapes. The ideas is to create a sense of equality in the scene. Rhythm is similar in a sense, but is about a repeating pattern in the scene. These are a little more difficult to find, but often a close up or abstract image can showcase this technique well.Balance-717x360The centered composition of this image of a theatre shows the balance in the scene

Rhythm-402x600The repeated curved shapes of the glass buildings gives a great sense of rhythm

  1. Space

Open, or negative space, in your image is sometimes as important as the subject. Negative space gives your subject context, and shows the viewer where or how your subject relates to its surroundings. Quite often, negative space is the sky. It can be tempting to ignore this one, but if it’s used correctly, this can be a very powerful compositional tool.Space-717x392The texture in the clouds in give this image some gravity. If the sky were simply blue, it would not be as impactful.

  1. Breaking the Rules

Knowing these techniques will certainly improve some of your images, but also, knowing how to break them is just as important. In some cases, it will be obvious which technique to use, in others, you may find that putting your subject in the middle of your frame works best. You need to decide what will work for your image. Try techniques like this and see if one works. If not, break the rules and do what you think looks good.Breaking-401x600By cropping the building quite aggressively, the image seems unfinished, but the colours and the sky make it work.

Barry J Brad, Tip and Tutorials: 6 Advanced Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photos, 2016. Retrieved from:




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