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Intermediate Composition. Gr 11 photography VMC. Composition Perspective Proportions Shapes Placement Golden ratio Guiding the eye Framing Structure M ovement. Topics. Composition is the skillful control of the disposition of elements within the picture frame for expressive effect.

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intermediate composition

Intermediate Composition

Gr 11 photography VMC



  • Perspective
  • Proportions
  • Shapes
  • Placement
  • Golden ratio
  • Guiding the eye
  • Framing
  • Structure
  • Movement

Composition is the skillful control of the disposition of elements within the picture frame for expressive effect.

  • It comes primarily from indirect changes – from the choice of camera position.

Rule of thirds

  • Simplicity
  • Uncomplicated backgrounds
  • Get close
  • Avoid mergers
  • Lines and curves
  • Balance
  • Framing



Perspective is the way in which three-dimensional objects with depth are rendered onto a two-dimensional, flat surface.

  • This means perspective is governed by the photographer’s position (camera’s position).
two perspectives

Long-focal length perspective is shorthand for viewing the subject from a great distance using a telephoto lens in order to make objects appear to be similar in size and near each other.

  • Wide-angle perspective of the same scene means, in contrast, viewing it from a reduced distance which tends to exaggerate the differences in size as well as well as the relative distances of objects.
Two perspectives

The two ways to control proportions are by varying the shape of the image canvas (square, tall, wide, round) and by placement of the key elements of the image.


Square frames offer a feeling of stability and are the most neutral.

  • Rectangular frames are the most popular, and ones with greater aspect rations (16:9 or 16:7) are ideal for landscapes.

Composition can convey broad notions according to subject placement and resulting proportions. Some of these are:

  • Subject placed centrally: an image divided into two equal halves suggests stability, solidity;
  • Subject placed one third of the way into the image: image space divided into unequal one-third and twothirdsportions may suggest dynamic equilibrium;
  • Subject placed at Golden Ratio (see below) may suggest balanced, elegant proportion;
  • Subject placed very close to the edge or cut into by the frame may suggest instability, vitality, or an imminent sudden change.
the golden ratio

The Golden Ratio: It is the ratio where the longer section divided by the shorter section is the same as the total length divided by the longer section; it equals approximately 1.618.

  • The Rule of Thirds ratio is approximately 1:1.667
The Golden Ratio
guiding the eye

To guide the viewer’s eye around an image they key element is the shape of the picture within the frame, and this depends on how we structure the picture space. These are known as achromatic features – or those defined exclusively by light, line, and shade.

  • Colouralso affects how the eye is guided.
Guiding the eye
shaping the image

Strong shapes are characteristic of effective photographs.

  • Shapes that can be reduced to simple forms, such as square, triangle, circle, tend to be the most effective.
Shaping the image

Another way to shape in image is to create a frame. This frame offers a reference against which less strongly shaped objects can relate. Vignetting– or darkening the corners of an image is another way to add shape. The darkening helps guide the eye to the central subject.

Fig. __. Photography by Julie Laurent from “I heart vignette,”; Web; Feb. 9 2012.


The magic of picture composition is in convincing viewers that they are seeing a three-dimensional image.

  • Techniques for this convincing include using converging parallel lines to suggest distance, we overlap objects to show which are nearer, we use variations in scale to give perspective, and above all, we try to draw the viewer into the space.

Fig. Photography by Unknown from Perfect Digital Photography; Print; 2009.


The most rewarding movements are usually the simplest -- diagonal across the image or a spiral for the edge to the centre.

  • One way to test an image’s structure is to turn it upside down. If you can still see the movement, it is a strong and well composed image.