This week my photography adventure remains in the Black Country as I look at ways to improve composition on an impromptu visit to the Enville Sheepwalks.
Landscape Photography On Hold
We have recently been forced into the UK’s version of Coronavirus lockdown for what feels like an eternity. This has resulted in my landscape photography being somewhat neglected. Of course this is not through choice of my own. There is nothing that fulfils my passion for photography more than getting out, mixing with nature and visiting the beautiful landscapes around us. That said staying indoors, protecting the NHS and saving lives was the right thing to do.
The last time I wrote about a photography trip was my sunrise visit to the Worcestershire Beacon on the Malvern Hills. The sunrise was beautiful and I was so privileged to be treated to some amazing light. If you haven’t already seen the post be sure to follow the link as the Malvern are a stunning landscape photography location.
The Enville Sheepwalks
The Sheepwalks are located near Stourbridge and offer wonderful views of the surrounding Staffordshire landscape.
Located a short drive from my home The Enville Sheepwalks can be reached in a matter of minutes. The roads are quite narrow and passing places can be few and far between. Luckily the roads are fairly quiet and most of the vehicles are either farm traffic or local residents.
In terms of parking spaces, there are not many and its very important not to confuse the few passing places as a parking spots. There is nothing worse than coming head on with another car or worse still a tractor and having to reverse a considerable distance due to finding the passing place blocked. Most day-trippers tend to avoid the narrow roads by starting their walk in Enville village. The Cat Inn has quite a large carpark and is a perfect stop for refreshments both before and after your visit to the Sheepwalks.
What Makes A Strong Composition?
Composition is is one of the most important things you can develop as a photographer. A strong composition can turn an good photograph Into an amazing photograph.
Usually when a photographer starts their photography journey 9 times out of 10 they simply just want to make beautiful photographs.
I know when I got my first DSLR I shot hundreds of images without thinking about composition. If truth be know I didn’t really understand what composition was and I thought I could just point and shoot to make an amazing photograph.
You soon realise good photography is not as easy as you first imagined. This is when a lot of people either give up in disappointment or develop determination and passion to learn the art of photography.
Every Day Is A School Day
Every day is a school day and I for one do not profess to know it all. I consider myself to have a good understanding of the basics and continue to invest time and effort in learning how better compose my images. This post isn’t designed as a lesson and is merely a prompt to encourage you to think on your feet and pay more attention to your compositions. There is plenty of educational content out there. Youtube, blog posts, books and magazines to name a few. I find the key to learning is experimentation. Don’t be scared to try something new and don’t feel you have to follow the rules all of the time. In fact you should treat the so called rules only as a guide.
If you are new to photography and want to learn more about composition I would suggest a good starting point would be to look up the “rule of thirds”.
Top Tips To Improve Your Composition
The following 6 points have made the biggest difference to my photographs.
- Start using the rule of thirds and think about where to place your subject in the frame.
- Fill the Frame. Get closer and don’t be scared to zoom with your feet.
- Look for lead in lines shapes and curves.
- Frame your subject within the frame.
- Simplify the scene, don’t try to capture too much in a single photo.
- Create depth and separation with foreground, mid ground and distance.
What To Do When A Composition Doesn’t Work
I was drawn to shoot the composition below by the leading line created by the edge of the grass verge. My idea was to use the line to lead the eye from the lower right corner of the frame through the image up to the gateway in the distance.
Unfortunately I feel the above composition didn’t work. The main focus point should have been the gateway which clearly isn’t dominant enough in the frame. The gate has no separation and is lost amongst the hedgerow. Maybe I shot the image too wide. Maybe I used the wrong lens. Zooming in or moving closer may have helped to make the gate larger however I would then have lost the large tree on the right hand side of the image which was helping to frame the heavy sky. The trade off may have saved the image but that’s something I’ll never know unless I revisit and try again.
Image Critique and Review
Asking for critique and feedback of a photograph can be difficult. Photography is a form of art and as such can be very subjective. It is impossible to please everyone all of the time. To stay upbeat I recommend primarily shooting for yourself and learning to self critique your own images. Make a list of what you like and what you think you could improve. Then think about what you could do differently to improve your photograph.
Enville Sheepwalks – Image of the Day
This is my favourite image from my afternoon on the Enville Sheepwalks. I like the way I have framed the image with the dark tree trunk and overhead leaves. I also like the way I added depth by focusing on the bench to create a strong foreground interest leading onto the mid ground fields, distant horizon and dark cloudy sky.
To improve the image I could have shot the image slightly wider. Taking a couple of steps to the left would also have allowed me to place the bench a little further to the right. This would create more space between the tree trunk and bench allowing the eye to be led with a clear direction to follow through the scene.
I hope you have enjoyed reading. If you want to see more of my images from The Sheepwalks check out this post where I photograph Sunset on The Sheepwalks.
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