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How to Take Better Photos-3:
Tips and Examples


Where to Position the Horizon

Cameras make photos in a rectangular format so you can choose between horizontal or vertical positioning.

windsurf-pirates.jpg (11579 bytes)
Copyright Lundy Wilder 2005
Horizontal photos have the horizon across the long dimension of the photo and this emphasizes the space from right to left. A person looking at the photograph typically sees it left to right, just as we read a page in the Western world. This gives horizontal photos a sense of wide open space but you usually need to include some foreground objects to give the photograph a feeling of scale and add perspective.

Vertical photographs, by their nature, can convey a feeling of depth. Viewers tend to see the image from the foreground back and then the sky or ceiling.

photo-vertical-2.jpg (24983 bytes)
Copyright Lundy Wilder 2005
wind-surf-sail-sunset.jpg (14716 bytes)
Copyright Lundy Wilder 2005

The very nature of these subjects called for a vertical format. The church was very tall and narrow, so the vertical orientation reinforces that feeling. The sail on this boat shot straight up to the sky, so vertical was again a natural choice.


The classic pleasing position for the horizon is a third of the way down the frame. But putting the horizon in other places can create a more dramatic effect. Just keep any water level !

The Background-The most overlooked area of the beginner’s photographs is the background. A cluttered or confusing background can ruin an otherwise good photo. On the other hand, when background adds something to the subject, it makes the overall composition more meaningful.

dancing-couple-2.JPG (87751 bytes)
Copyright Lundy Wilder 2005
This dancing couple was at the Foley, Ala 'Arts in the Park Festival'. The photo looks more in context with the musicians shown in the background. The Ford dealership was sponsoring the music it seems and that sign along with the drummer, singer and guitar player adds a home-spun appeal to this afternoon small town event photo.

In the following photo, both the foreground and the background help establish the purpose of this business--a cafe--the blackboard offers menu choices and the pastry in the foreground reinforces the theme of the picture. If the picture was pulled in tighter and only showed the friend and a cash register, he could be most anything, a dry cleaner or barber, etc...

photo-foreground-relate.jpg (27785 bytes)
Copyright Lundy Wilder 2005

The Purpose of the Photo

The reason for taking the picture will also effect how you compose your shot. Are you creating a photo for use on a web site, recording an important event, creating a family group shot for a holiday card, or capturing a happy every-day moment for a scrapbook?

In one type of photo, you might want to stress the details of the geographical location, while in another you wish to capture a mood. Remember that the lighting is often a part of the mood, so in indoor photos you might want to use the available light instead of a flash.

Page 3.............................................Continue on to more photography tips...

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How to Take Better Photos
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Vacation Photo Tips

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