Focus-on-Foto-Fun “Shaping Your Composition”

Theme Number Six is “Shaping Your Composition”

As a photographer, we take many different aspects into consideration as we compose our photographs. We definitely consider the light source, and the direction of the light,  and we might look at patterns, texture, color, and so on. But how often do you take a photograph of something because of its shape? I’ve seen some landscape photographs that are taken because a photographer noticed a heart shape in the scene, or possibly there was a leading line of light, but to photograph an object just because of its shape is not something I see very often.

A shape can be used to frame a subject, as seen in the photograph above, taken at Arches National Park in Utah. Looking at the rock formation known as Delicate Arch through a window in another rock, the composition not only frames the subject, but also forces the eye of the viewer to look through one shape to see another scene – your subject. The end result can be far more interesting to a viewer than the standard view of Delicate Arch that has been seen so many times before, as shown below.

Shapes can be simple architectural or natural landscape structures, but they can also be created by the way the light is falling on a scene, and by colors in a composition. Both add contrast to a composition, and therefore bring out the texture, and three dimensional shapes, when displaying a two dimensional photograph. When photographing a scene straight on, your scene might seem very flat. By moving your feet just a little to step to one side or the other, you might find the shadows created by the angled light will make your photograph appear more 3D. Photographs taken of sand dunes are a prime example of this for a landscape photographer. Contrasting colors have a similar effect. Cooler colors are better used as backgrounds while reds, yellows, and oranges will stand out and bring more attention to the shape of your subject.

One other item to consider when photographing and emphasizing shapes is to keep things as simple as possible. A telephoto lens can work well, and will allow a photographer to frame the subject so only the shape draws the attention of the viewer without distracting elements in the composition. Black-and-white images can also work well for shapes, especially when composing high contrast silhouettes.

Have fun finding shapes to photograph, and be sure when you post your photos to Focus-on-Foto-Fun to tell us what camera and settings you used, so we can all learn from one another. Post your photographs to the Focus-on-Foto-Fun page on FB at Remember, you can tag your posts with #focusonfotofun and #shapingyourcomposition, and please tag me @georgiamichalicek on IG.

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