There are a lot of things that go into making a great photograph. Among these are the light, weather conditions, perspective, proper focus, and of course great foreground, background and subject to name a few. And yet given all of those things the image will fall short if the overall composition isn’t a good one. I think composition is the most challenging and the most rewarding of all of the aspects of photography. More than anything else, composition is where the personality or personal expression of the photographer comes into play. It is through their choice of composition that you begin to discover how they see their world.
A good composition can turn an ordinary scene into a photogenic one. I am reminded of the lighthouse in Bandon, Oregon. To me it was a less than ordinary lighthouse, nothing particularly photogenic about it. I had seen it from a restaurant window and had decided it was not worth the trouble to drive over to photograph it A week later on my return from the north coast of Oregon, Andy Cook (Rocky Mountain Reflections.com) decided he wanted to shoot this lighthouse, never having been to it before. Watching him was a lesson in composition. He immediately found the rocks down below the lighthouse, scrambled over them until he got to the farthest corner of the rocks away from the lighthouse and positioned himself to be able to include the leading line of the surf breaking against the rocks. All of a sudden this drab little lighthouse came to life.
Here is another shot taken of the same lighthouse. This image is taken pretty much from the same perspective as the first one, but from a higher plane and with more spaciousness or breathing room around the lighthouse, as well as it being presented in landscape mode rather than portrait. Can you feel the difference between the two?
And finally, this image, which I like, but for me it has a completely different feel to it with the rocks taking a prominent role in the foreground. There are other differences between these images besides their compositions, like the temperature of the light and their brightness. Is there one of the images you prefer? Can you identify what it is about it? Do you see something you might want to have done differently? These are all personal preferences and personal choices both for the photographer and for the viewer. For me it is a big part of the challenge and the joy of landscape photography.