Photography Cheat Sheet: Mastering the Essential Composition Elements

Great composition is key to any kind of photography, so today, we bring another photography cheat sheet to help you master it.

A well-exposed photo is never enough; it should also show great composition. Of course, no one is a master of composition straight away. It takes years of learning, practice, and constant improvement. If you’re bored with your photos, chances are you need to work on composition. Today’s featured photography cheat sheet from Digital Camera World will provide some helpful tips for working with the essential ingredients of eye-catching composition.

If you remember the Basic Photography Composition Cheat Sheet we shared not long ago, you can treat today’s guide as a supplement to the suggestions there. Today’s cheat sheet trains your eye to consider the angle, crop, and background of what you want to capture and puts them together to make your composition interesting. This is especially helpful for macro, close-ups, or detail shots.

To begin, study the best specimen or portion of your subject and look for the angle that best shows its color or form. Once you’ve found your angle, next comes deciding whether to fill the frame with the entire subject or isolate a specific part and crop in tighter.

If you decide to fill the frame, compose your shot in such a way that your subject fills the frame but leave some breathing room around it. If you decide to go for the crop, make sure it’s tight enough to look creative or deliberate. Your framing also needs to have a suitable focal point to lead the eye of the viewer and hold it. You may need to mount your camera on a sturdy tripod to help you compose.

Next is the background. If it’s cluttered or fussy, you can reposition the subject, the background, or the camera until you have a clean background. If that’s not possible, you can use a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field and thus blur the distracting background. Once your background is clean, you’ll need one last step.

To nail your focus and make sure your subject is sharp, set the AF point to the closest part of the subject you want to focus on. Then, half-press the shutter button to set the focus, and set the lens to manual focus. This will allow you to fine-tune the focus exactly where you want it. To make sure the edge that you want to be sharp is in focus, use your camera’s live view (if it has this feature), magnify the preview, and make further adjustments as necessary.

If you liked today’s handy guide, don’t forget to check out our growing collection of photography cheat sheets for more useful tips and tricks!