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Composition - In Tight / Out Far

Original article:  Composition - In Tight / Out Far

Robert Capa's advice - 'If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.' - is some of the most quoted advice in the photographic world. In Capa's world of war photojournalism getting close wasn't an easy feat, it involved being in the heat of the action. Many of Capa's most famous shots were taken in close with the soldiers at the front line. Even if your aspirations are only to improve your 'happy snaps' these words of advice are timeless.

One of the periphery benefits that I have come to appreciate with digital photography is having to process photographs. At first it was a chore (actually it still is a chore), but it became a benefit when I turned it into an exercise of constructive self criticism. One of the things I started to notice (there were many) was that I was constantly cropping. Cropping and wishing for more mega pixels so I could crop more. Seeing how a larger SLR camera body costed thousands more I figured it would be a prudent choice to fix the problem at the source. Heeding the advice of Mr. Capa I made an effort to compose my photographs tighter when I took them. I found that when I took tighter pictures I still cropped in tighter. For me shooting in tight is an excercise in progress.

Out Far
The obvious opposite of being in tight is out far. As was the case with the picture of the couple in Death Valley sometimes pulling out far can have a desired effect. In Death Valley I was impressed by the grandeur and wanted to compose my photographs to capture that feeling. I pulled out far from the couple enjoying the coffee on the sand dunes, placing them in the lower right corner. By making these two small in the composition I hoped to show the grandeur, solitude and vast beauty of the scene.

It's a good idea to practice composition bracketing - take a shot, shoot tighter, shoot tighter still and even shoot further out. In fact you can practice all the areas we covered in the photographic tips articles in this manner. Don't neglect reviewing the results and taking note of the outcome to improve your next photo outing. In this way, composing interesting photographs will become second nature.

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