Help with composition

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. kallisti, Sep 16, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013

    kallisti macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Just got back from a trip to Italy. Still reviewing all my pics. Will post some in the POTD thread once I go through them all.

    While walking around in Rome I kept coming across narrow alleys that served as subjects. Wasn't sure how best to compose them.

    Here are two shots of the same alley. One where I included the near wall (and thus brought out the narrowness of the space) and another where I intentionally left out the near wall in the composition.

    Which one works better?



    I actually shot the latter image first (went with my gut). Then after a few other shots in the area went back and composed to include the near wall. I'm thinking including the near wall made for a better composition looking at them now. Not sure I trust my judgement though.

  2. r.harris1, Sep 16, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013

    r.harris1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Of the two, I like the first (top) one best. Of the two, it takes my eye on a journey down the alley way, gives me perspective and provides a hint of mystery (what's around that corner?).

    My 2 cents.
  3. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I prefer the first by far. The other one doesn't seem to have the character of the second.
  4. Puckman macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
    Yorba Linda, CA
    This. 100%. The near wall frames the shot and leads the eye down the alley, while also highlighting it's narrowness. This in itself is essential, in my opinion, to portray that feeling of "narrow alley in Rome" that you were going for (i presume).
    The 2nd photo seems a bit aimless to me. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at. And it certainly does NOT tell me that this an alley, or that it's narrow, or that it's in Rome for that matter.
    It could be the side of a somewhat rundown building in Detroit for all we know.

    (My 2 cents to be taken with a grain of salt. I'm new to all this.)
  5. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    I prefer the "story" of the TOP image.

    The bottom one has a line to move the eye a bit but seems overall lost in tone and perhaps 'subject'

    The TOP image has a nice glow on teh building, gives a story and something to have a feeling with.
  6. InTheMist, Sep 16, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013

    InTheMist macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2013
    Yes, the top image is better. It's not only subjective, but also demonstrates several compositional rules.

    1) You balance the dark foreground against the light area
    2) Often, the lighter area becomes the subject of the photo, and should be near one of the "rule of thirds" intersections, which you have.
    3) The lines of the street lead the eye to the lighter area, although I'm a bit doubtful of the whole "leading lines" theory, it seems to work here.
    4) The left and right walls frame the subject
    5) It tells a simple story
  7. someoldguy macrumors 68000

    Aug 2, 2009
    I'lll also go with the top one . Who knows what lurks at the end of the alleyway? No mystery , or story , in the lower ; there could be just a big open space on the left .
  8. ijohn.8.80 macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2012
    Adelaide, Oztwaylya.
    For me, the first one is the better, hands down. It's got the sense of journey to it, a bit of intrigue as to what may be around the bend and most importantly for me, it has the great play of light that has added such dimension to this picture.
  9. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Thanks for all the replies.

    VERY helpful.

    One of those situations where I almost stepped away from a subject without really "getting it," but some part of me realized I was missing something and needed to go back and re-think how I shot it. Something to be said for going with gut instincts when shooting. Also something to be said for questioning yourself and revisiting a subject when your gut tells you after the fact that there may have been something more to a subject that you didn't fully capture.

    Thanks again for all the replies :)
  10. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Maybe straighten up the vertical lines a bit? Otherwise I agree with those above.
  11. Ish macrumors 68020


    Nov 30, 2004
    +1 for this.

    I was in France last week and took some similar photos in the old part of Nice. The roads were a bit straighter there though and the ends of the roads aren't hidden in my pictures. When I saw your top photo earlier today I thought how much better it looks the way you did it, without the bright end of the road being visible. Now I want to go back and try again!!
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Just for fun, I cropped the top photo so that only just a bit of the wall showed. This resulted in a photo that still showed the narrowness of lane, but allowed the windows and doors on the right side to really stand out without distraction. And you know what? Your top photo was still better (though you may want to crop it for yourself to see it for yourself.) I think the door and window on the left work really well with those on the right. If it had been a blank wall, then perhaps cropping it to show just a hint of wall might have worked.

    The only thing the cropping did was emphasize the height, which in turn makes the alley look narrower. If you believe in cropping, you may want to just slightly trim the sides to see if the narrower image works better.

    Just a thought.

    Nice image....

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