My mother bought me a book on photography earlier this year when she realized I was really into it. I'll put up my favourite parts of the book here to share with everyone else. (Please no one report this to the author lest I get sued
What I type looks very wordy, but the book has all kinds of photos and stuff to add to it and it doesn't seem like such heavy reading. The book is The Creative Photography Handbook
by Lee Frost
. I really like it and highly recommend it.
I'll skip the part about the rule of thirds since ztilaso covered it
The term 'night photography' can be a little confusing, because the best period in which to shoot isn't at night at all, but during the cross-over period between day and night when the sun has set but there is still colour in the sky, and daylight levels have fallen sufficiently for artificial illumination to be clearly visible, but not so much that shadow areas show no detail.
This period lasts for only 20 min or so during the winter months, but come midsummer, you will have 45 min or more of prime shooting time. More importantly, if you shoot during this period, your pictures will not only look much better, but you will also find it easier to get the exposure spot on.
If you start shooting too early, the artificial lighting won't be obvious enough and you'll get a daytime effect. Leave it too late and ambient light levels will have faded so much that detail is only recorded in areas lit by artificial lighting, while shadows and sky included come out black.
To make the most of this 'cross-over' period, arrive on location at least half an hour early so that you have time to decide where to shoot from and to set up your equipment.
Leading the Eye
Leading the viewer's eye through a picture from the foreground to the background should be one of your main priorities when composing - especially a landscape photograph - and the easiest way to achieve this is by using lines to attract and direct their gaze. Whether natural or man-made, real or assumed, lines are one of the most powerful compositional tools.
The most obvious lines are those created by man-made features, such as roads, paths, tracks, bridges, telegraph wires, walls, hedges, fences and avenues of trees. Shadows, too, can create strong lines, especially early or late in the day when the sun is low. Natural features such as rivers and streams, although not necessarily straight, have the same effect as they wind through a scene into the distance.
The direction a line travels should be considered because it can have a profound effect on how the viewer responds to an image, and the job it does as part of a composition.
Lines aren't always obvious in a scene, but if you get used to looking for them, it's surprising how often you will find them.
Horizontal lines echo the horizon and the force of gravity. This makes them easy on the eye, as they suggest repose and are naturally passive. Man-made boundaries in the landscape such as wall, fences and hedges, are obvious examples of horizontal lines that help to divide up the image into definite areas, though shadows can also be used in this way. The eye tends to begin at the bottom of the picture and work up, so horizontal lines divide it into sections that can be observed in turn.
Vertical lines are more active than horizontals, producing dynamic compositions with a stronger sense of direction. Think of the regimented trunks of trees in a pine forest and the soaring walls of skyscrapers in a bustling city. To maximize the effect, shoot in the upright format so that the eye has further to travel from the bottom of the frame to the top.
Diagonal lines have great directional value, and add depth as they suggest distance and perspective. They also contrast strongly with the horizontal and vertical lines that make up the borders of the image, and in doing so can create tense, dynamic compositions that catch the eye and hold the attention. As the eye tends to drift naturally from the bottom left to top right, diagonal lines traveling in this direction have the greatest effect, because they carry the eye through an image from the foreground to the background. In the landscape, roads, rivers, drainage ditches, rows of trees, hedges and other features can be used to form diagonal lines.
Converging lines are the most powerful of all. If you stand in the middle of a long, straight road and look down it, you'll notice that as distance increases, the parallel sides of the road appear to move closer and closer together until they eventually seem to meet at a place in the same distance that is known as the 'vanishing point'. The same effect occurs with railway lines, paths, avenues of trees, bridges, the furrows in a ploughed field, rows of crops and so on. When included in a composition, converging lines immediately add a very strong sense of depth because you know the road, for instance, is the same width along its length; so if it appears to become narrower it must be travelling away from the camera.
Filling the foreground
One of the most important elements you can exploit to create a dynamic composition is the foreground - the area of a scene closest to the camera. Emphasizing the foreground will help to give your photographs a strong sense of distance, depth and scale, due to the effects of perspective, as well as providing a convenient entry point into the picture.
Composing for impact
"If a picture's not good enough, you probably weren't close enough." Although Robert Capa was referring to combat photography, his maxim could be applied to any subject. Wasted space in a picture serves no purpose other than to make the composition 'windy', so keep things tight and make full use of the image area.
Get into the habit of asking yourself if a composition could be improved by taking a few paces forward.
Explore all angles. Don't automatically assume you have to take pictures with the camera at eye-level, either.
Red is a loudmouth colour. It stands out like a sore thumb against any other in the spectrum. Red reminds us of blood, passion, danger and heat, and leaps out wherever it appears.
Blue can mean different things. On one hand, it's a tranquil, serene, self-assured, regal, authoritative, stable colour. On the other hand, blue can be a cold, sad colour symbolic of depression, loneliness and coldness. It can be a moody, mysterious, secretive colour.
Green suggests freshness, new life and purity. It's a relaxing, soothing colour that reminds us of forests, fields and rolling hills.
Yellow is a powerful, comforting colour, symbolic of joy, happiness and richness, and it advances, like red, so that photographically, it's a very potent colour.
If photographing strangers, the easiest way to capture emotion is by taking a candid approach - keep a low profile, wait for the right moment, then grab the shot without anyone realizing what's going on.
A telephoto lens comes in handy, allowing to shoot from a distance and reduce risk of being spotted from afar.
Wide angle lenses can also be useful in crowds for taking more intimate, close range pictures. Often there is less chance of being spotted if you adopt this approach, because you won't stand out, and if you are seen, the people whom you are photographing will also tend to accept your presence.
Timing is crucial. Concentrate all attention on your subject, set your lens to a wide aperture such as f/4 or f/5.6 so that the background is thrown well out of focus, and compose the shot so that any distracting details are excluded from the frame.
In more formal portraits, the subject is encouraged to display emotion. Professional models can change their emotions quickly and effortlessly, but the kind of people we are likely to photograph won't have the same ability.
Communication is key. Your subject's emotions can be controlled to a certain extent by things you say and the topic of the conversation, so try to find out what they're interested in, what they dislike, or what upsets them. If a person admits to being passionate about animals, for example, you can generate positive or negative emotions by the way you talk about them.
Portraits that tell a story
Most portraits are shot from close range so that the subject fills all or most of the frame. This is a logical approach - the person depicted is the main subject, so we don't want other things in the picture to take attention away from them. However, you can produce more interesting and revealing portraits by taking a step back and including the environment.
By adding the surroundings, you will tell the viewer a lot about your subject, especially if they are photographed in a location of their choosing, because it will reveal clues about their character, personality and lifestyle.
For example, if you photograph a teenage girl in her bedroom, surrounded by al her personal possessions, we can immediately see if she's tidy or organized, who her favourite pop idols are, if she fancies football stars and so on.
There were many other chapters and sections to the book but there is no way any of you guys will ever be able to convince me to type out a whole book.
There was a particular section I liked about focus
and depth of field
that you could probably google about. Plus, I was once told to google up information about art theory
since good photographs are essentially art pieces and art theory applies to them too.