Balancing Your Photographs

In our post on shooting snow, we talked about manually changing the settings on your camera to achieve the right light balance when photographing in high glare situations. But there’s more than one type of balance in a photo: compositional balance is important too. It’s also a lot easier to get right than the light levels in a snowstorm and the effects are much more obvious.tuolommne.jpg

There are really only two kinds of compositional balance you need to consider in an image: symmetry and asymmetry. The Rule of Thirds helps photographers to place elements asymmetrically in a way that’s pleasing to the eye but an alternative method is to simply divide the image into two and pay attention to the elements on each side of the photo.

By playing with the contrast between those two halves, you can create some fantastic effects. Try balancing these elements on opposite sides of a composition:

    Weights. Different objects convey different senses of heaviness. A rounded rock on one side of a picture can contrast well against a thin tree.washburn.jpg

    Colors. Balance light against dark, red against green, plain colors against patterns.

    Direction. Think about how the eye will move across an image. Vertical shapes will pull the eye upward but what happens if you place a horizontal line, like a road or a track, on the other side of the photo?

One of the great things about playing with balance is that you can see the result right away in your screen. And as the Digital Photography School points out, if you get it wrong the crop tool in Photoshop can quickly put everything right again.

Image of Tuolomne Reflection by Misha Logvinov. Image of Washburn Point View by Buck Forester.
[tags] photo composition [/tags]

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