We Simplify The Technical!

Leading lines, color, shape and light. With her design background,

Jennifer King has a lot of great tips about composition to help come up with high impact

nature photography images. Composition in photography is way more important than many

people realize. Learn some of the guidelines and tools the master painters and sculptors used.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Explaining the Rules and Tools of Composition
with Jennifer King

“If you have a true understanding of the art of composition and
understand the rules and tools, you can become a better photographer.”


Principles of Design

Can be traced back centuries in fine art.
 – Fibonacci Spiral – a mathematical formula found throughout nature

– Place points of interest along the points of the spiral to help guide the viewer’s eye through the image.

  – Golden or Divine Rule – dividing the image into 3 areas both vertically and horizontally
            (not proportionately)

              – Rule of Thirds / “Tool of Thirds”– a lazy adaptation which divides the space equally

                – Place the horizon on one of the horizontal lines and your “hero” at a cross point

                      -It is perfectly acceptable to center both the horizon and the subject if the image remains in balance.

                                – Give more space to the area of the image with the most drama.


“By continuing to practice and work at your compositions,

 you begin to develop a subconscious eye for the elements of design.”


Perspective is Very Important

  • Move around the scene – get high, get low, move left and right 10 to 20 feet.
  • Take pictures from all angles – you’ll be glad to have options in post-processing.


Negative Space

  • Try to stay away from 50/50.
  • A minimalist approach can work very effectively.


“The cleaner the image, the more the subject will pop off the page.”


Controlling the Viewer’s Eye

  • Leading Lines

                – They are not always obvious.

                – Walk around the scene to find objects that create a line and direct the viewer into the image.

                – A hard horizontal line in the foreground can be distracting and stop the viewer’s eye from entering the scene. (A softer line can sometimes work.)

  • Foreground Details

– Details create depth, drama and dimension.

– Foreground elements provide a place for the viewer to step into the image.

– Get low to exaggerate the size of the foreground to add texture and drama.

      – This technique cannot use a shallow depth of field – open up to f/16 or f/22.

      – Use a wide-angle lens with a fast aperture.

      – Your lens will reach optimal focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene.

                This will differ for all equipment.  Find the sweet spot for your gear.


“Great composition combined with great lighting creates magic.”


  • Lighting and Color

                – You don’t always have to light from the front.  Look for side-lighting and back-lighting.

                – Directional lighting can add contrast and highlights.

                – Light can be a distraction – your eye will always travel to the brightest spot.

                                Use graduated ND filters to help balance the sky with the foreground.

                – Look for colors that compliment each other.  If you can’t find colors that work together, dramatize the scene by changing to black and white.

  • Horizon Lines and Verticals

                – A slightly tilted horizon line is distracting – take the time to straighten it.

                – An exaggerated skewing of the horizon line can be very effective.

                – Straighten vertical lines – especially if they are near the edge or cause a distraction.

  • Isolate your subject from the background
    – Use a shallow depth of field to soften the background and make the subject pop.
    – Use a vignette to darken the edges and draw the viewer’s eye toward the center.
  • Cropping and Framing

                – Crop to remove distractions from an edge.

                – Frame the subject using the principles of design.  Find the story of the image.

                – Use natural elements to frame your hero.

Finding Jennifer


Instagram @JenniferKing_Photographer

Facebook  Jennifer King Photo Workshops



Understand Photography

General Notes

What you need to learn for a solid photography education.  Watch our free video:


Upcoming Trips:
St. Augustine – April 11-14, 2019
Florida’s Forgotten Coast – May 13-17,  2019
Women’s Photography Weekend, Naples – June 7 – 9, 2019
Tuscany Ladies Photo Workshop and Tour – 
Sept 28 – Oct 5, 2019

New Book!  Peggy Farren and Joe Fitzpatrick have published a book highlighting Florida’s Best Photo Spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

Understand Photography is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Jennifer King Cloudy Sunset on the Water
Jennifer King Foggy Winter Trees
Jennifer King Landscape
Jennifer King Splashing Stallions
Jennifer King Shifting Dunes

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