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“The best way out is always through.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Use Off-Center Subject Placement

Here's a very quick tip that will improve about 90-percent of the photos you take: next time you're composing a photograph, make an effort to place the main subject off-center. Most of us automatically place our main subjects smack dab in the center of the frame largely because that's where the focusing indicator is in the viewfinder. Placing the center of interest in the middle of the frame creates a very static design with no surprises, no reason to explore the rest of the frame.

Using off-center subject placement creates a sense of visual intrigue and, if done well, a sense of balance within the frame. In this shot of a Japanese garden, by placing the stone lantern to the extreme right and balancing it with a large open area, I've used that open area to balance the "heavier" portion of the frame (the tree and lantern). The eye roams around the rest of the frame, curious about the vastness of the space surrounding the subject. I think that in this particular case, the design also reinforces some of the Zen feeling of the garden.

Don't be a slave to the center of the frame. Try some extreme placements and see if you don't enjoy them more!

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