Part 4 of a 7 part series on photographing miniatures.
- Part 1 – Equipment
- Part 2 – Setting the Scene
- Part 3 – Lighting
- Part 4 – Composing a Shot
- Part 5 – Depth of Field – June 6
- Part 6 – Shooting the Scene – June 13
- Part 7 – Editing your Images – June 20
Composition in miniature photography follows all the same principles as composition in any type of photography, or visual art as a whole.
All of the elements and principles of design come together to make a composition.
- Positive and negative space
- Shadows and highlights
- Rule of Thirds
“Composition is a way of guiding the viewer’s eye towards the most important elements of your work, sometimes – in a very specific order. A good composition can help make a masterpiece even out of the dullest objects and subjects in the plainest of environments.”
Positive & Negative Space
Negative space enhances positive space. Positive space is your subject matter – the house, figure etc. Surround that positive with empty, or blurred space so that the viewer focuses on what’s important.
Shadows & Highlights
Similarly, shadows and highlights work for and against each other. Highlights draw the viewer’s eye, while shadows barely get a second thought. Place highlights near important areas of your image. Blown out spots, shouldn’t be on the main subject, but bright reflections can serve well near what you want the image to see. Take for example the image above, the brightest spot is the creature’s light, near the center of the frame. You first see the light, then the antennae draws you downward toward the creature’s body, The shadows below the creature keep you focused on the creature, rather than having your eyes move off the frame.
The above is symmetrical, and balanced because the ‘weight’ only falls in the center of the frame, and the image is largely equal on both sides.
This image is also balanced, but asymmetrically. While, the image is not equivalent on both the right and left, the objects included in the image balance each other out.
Color works together with all of the above listed ideas. A strong, saturated color can draw the viewer’s eye, while a dull, dark color on the edge of a shot can work to keep the viewer’s eye engaged in the shot. Colors can also create a mood. In my series WWII all the colors of the clothing of the figures, house and car are dull American flag colors – they help establish the theme and mood of the photographs. With color theory, colors can also represent very specific emotions, depending on how they’re paired with the rest of the items in the image.
Rule of Thirds
While just a guideline, the rule of thirds can be very helpful, especially when starting out. The idea is that you create a 3×3 tic tac toe type grid over your image, the best place to insert subjects in your frame are in the intersections of those grid lines.
“This creates more interest, tension and energy rather than just centering the subject. Applying the rule of thirds to a painting keeps your composition from being split in half either vertically or horizontally. Avoids the main focus from the center of the painting like a bull’s-eye.”
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