Photo Shoot: Perspective and composition

  • Reflections Bistro in St. Augustine, Fla. Ron Bowman photos / For the Monitor

  • Maine’s Nubble Lighthouse with grid overlay

For the Monitor
Published: 4/28/2021 10:59:04 AM

Have you ever noticed how some photos seem to create a feeling of great depth? Have you ever wondered if you should put your main subject in the middle of your photo?

The answer may surprise you.

In this lesson, we are going to explore perspective and how to compose your photos to create the greatest interest and impact.

Perspective: A photo showing great perspective displays converging lines and the relationship between the size of objects in the foreground and background. The photo of the Bistro in St. Augustine, Fla., is a good example of converging lines and the relationship of the size of the columns in the foreground compared with the background. Notice how this photo draws your attention from the nearest column, all the way to the light at the end of the plaza. Everything is in sharp focus and the result is a feeling of great depth.

Your photos could include train tracks, unique architecture, buildings, bridges, boats in a harbor, etc. Most smartphones use a wide-angle lens, which is preferable for creating depth in a photo. Those of you using a digital camera with a zoom lens will want to use a wider angle of view, like 18mm-24mm and try to focus about ⅓ into the photo, using an aperture of f8 or f11 for best results.

Composition: This happens to be one of my favorite elements of a good photograph. A good composition will draw the viewer’s attention to the main point of focus, subject, or theme of the photo. Assuming your photo is in focus, properly exposed, includes elements of being artistic and creates an emotional response with your viewer, then the last element is a good composition.

Where you place the main point of focus/subject, in relation to the rest of the photo will help determine the overall impact of the photo. Most professional photographers compose their photographs according to the “Rule of Thirds.” The example shown of the lighthouse could be your template for understanding this composition rule. The rule of thumb is to place your main point of focus/subject, at the junction where one of these four lines intersect. Notice how the lighthouse is placed at the intersecting lines in the upper left quadrant. Most great photographs follow this guideline. The key is not to place your main subject directly in the middle of the photo. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but trust me, it works. Now, there will be times when it is difficult to follow this rule, but you can at least make the effort to start composing most of your photos according to this accepted rule of composition.

Next month, I will discuss photographing New Hampshire waterfalls. Also, I’m teaching a workshop on Waterfall Photography, which will be held at the Basin in Franconia Notch on May 16, and another “Introduction to digital photography and how to improve your photographic skills,” starting June 8. Classes will be held at the Lakes Region Art Association Gallery located in the Tanger Outlets in Tilton. For more information or to register, please contact Ron Bowman at

Ron Bowman is a New Hampshire photographer, with 50+ years of experience photographing weddings, real estate, and New England landscapes. He is a member of the Lakes Region Art Association and can be reached at You can also view his work at the Lakes Region Art Gallery located in the Tilton Outlet Mall and on his website

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