Composition, Focus, and Light

Basic Photography lesson by Phil Hargrave with some new things added by Tony Farley

Some Photos are just better than others.

Why are the Photos on the right just better than the ones on the left?…Well there are many reasons but if you keep three things in mind as you take your photos it will go a long way to taking stronger photos.

Composition and The Rule of Thirds

If you put your points of interest along the third lines then it will create a stronger composition.

Putting eyes on a third is always a good idea. Bonus if you get them on the vertical and horizontal third.

Photo by Tony Farley

When photographing landscapes, decide if the sky is the star or the land is the star. The star should get 2/3 of the photo.

Photo by Tony Farley
Photo by Gordon Stanley


Make sure that the point of interest is always in focus. The whole photo does not need to be in focus, but something should be. And the out of focus stuff can be just as powerful as the in focus.

Photo by Tony Farley


When you see good light, that’s when you should get your camera out and start shooting a lot of shots. You can play with how it interacts with your lens, or creates shadows.

Light from the side is usually far more photogenic than light that comes straight down. So photos taken in the middle of the day will not be as good as photos taken after sunrise or just before sunset.

Photo by Tony Farley

Breaking the rules

These rules should be broken if you have a reason to break them. This one is centered. The symmetry and dark and light make for a striking image when centered.

Photo Critique

This is just an ok photo. Why?

This photo is better, why?

This photo is even better. why?

Your assignment

Take a picture with good composition, good focus, and good light and post it to the comp,focus,light forum under the photocrit link above.

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