by Simon Capstick-Dale


How to take good holiday snaps

Everyone’s familiar with the sinking feeling in your stomach when you arrive home from an awesome holiday after taking a bucket-load of photos only to find most of them came very short of your expectations. You then wish you could go back and take them all over again but you can’t. You’ve probably cut off someone’s head – or worse – you’ve taken the photograph with the sun behind the subject and all that comes out is a mere ‘silhouette of a man’…

This is the first part of a series of short articles giving you some simple tips for taking holiday snaps that you won’t be ashamed to show your grandkids. 

Firstly, let’s talk about composition:

Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background "noise" and ensure the subject gets the viewer's undivided attention.

Rule of thirds
Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The rule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along the points where they intersect, adding balance and interest to your photo.

Balancing Elements
Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. Therefore you should balance the "weight" of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.
Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to convey the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background.

Leading Lines
When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines (straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial, etc.) and each can be used to enhance its effect. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling the viewer into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey "through" the scene.

Before photographing your subject, take time to think about from where you will shoot it. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away or from up-close.

The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. This problem can be overcome by looking for a plain background and composing your shot so that it doesn't detract from the subject.

The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.
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