INTRODUCTION TO BASIC COMPOSITION RULES: HOW TO FOCUS ON YOUR MAIN SUBJECT

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Composition Rule #3: Focus on your main subject, literally!

One of the best ways to emphasize the main subject of your photograph is to use shallow depth of field to focus only on your main subject and blurring everything else. The example photos below shows what a big difference focus can make on emphasizing your main subject. When everything is in focus as shown in figure 1, it is difficult to pinpoint the main subject. By focusing on the subject alone and blurring the rest, it becomes easy to see the main subject.

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Dominant Subject Rule
Figure 1: Everything is in focus
Dominant Subject Rule
Figure 2: Only the main subject is in Focus

Using shallow depth of field creates negative space by blurring out the background and isolating your main subject and drawing attention to where you want your viewer to look at.

Dominant Subject Rule
Figure 3: Eliminate distracting backgrounds
Dominant Subject Rule
Figure 4: Blur out background to create negative space

Composition Rule #4: Frame your subject

In a photograph, the frame refers to the edges of the photo. It is the boundery of your scene and it leads your viewer to look at your photo within these bounderies. Now, if you add another frame inside your photo and place your main subject inside this frame, it will put more emphasis on your main subject. Placing your main subject inside a frame within a frame tells your viewers that your main subject is the focal point of your photo and they should focus their eyes on your main subject.

Frame your Subject
Figure 5: Frame your subject

Your frame doesn't have to have a rectangular shape. It can be any element or shape that creates a visual frame like trees, arches, windows, etc. The example photo in figure 6 below uses trees to frame the main subject which is the Capitol Building in Sacramento, California.

Using Trees as Frames
Figure 6: Using Trees to frame subject

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