News – "how to compose photos" – Love Lightroom Presets


How to make better landscape photography compositions - see objectively...

Here at Love Lightroom Presets we sell tools that help speed up your photo editing, but even the very best presets cannot fix a terribly arranged scene. The composition is the structure of a photo, the framework - if you are going to take your photography from garbage to great you will need to learn to see what your camera sees!

Cultivate objectivity – make better photos !  

It is a well-worn adage that photography is the art of seeing, I prefer to think that successful photography results from visual objectivity – the craft of consciously seeing exactly what’s presented in a scene whether it’s good, bad or mediocre.  The ability to look objectively at the world through the camera lens and then remove the visual detritus is a skill that all photographers must master if they are to make compelling compositions.

Quality photographic composition is almost always a subtractive process - drag that dead branch out of shot, zoom in a little tighter to show less of a boring foreground, move position so your car is no longer in shot - all these things subtract something from the photo but add to the power of the composition.

This is a poorly composed image, made moments after stopping the car to photograph this scene. I have included far too much in the shot, including the road and it's distracting white line. There is heaps of visual clutter and the thing that made me stop - the flax flowers is tiny in the overall scene.

By moving closer to the point of interest and changing my framing orientation to vertical/portrait the image becomes much stronger.

A single-click application of our 'Big Sky - mid' preset (from the Bluebird Days preset pack) dramatically accentuates the visual impact of the scene. Effective post-processing can strengthen and enhance a good composition.

Learning to see the world objectively isn't easy, simply because we see with our brains rather than our eyes. Our emotional response taints our view of the world when looking through the lens and our brains convince us that we are making photographic history when all we are doing is making yet another 'blah' photo.  

For me, a great example is bird photography. I'm not geared up for photographing birds but when Ido snap some shots my excitement has me 100% convinced that I am filling the frame with feathers - I develop a form of tunnel vision whereby all I can see through the lens is bird!  Without fail I check my LCD and discover that 95% of the frame is bird-free.  In short, I lose all objectivity when photographing birds, I fail to see what the camera is seeing.

white heron at Milford Sound

I lose visual objectivity when photographing birds - this heron seemed to dominate the frame when I was photographing it, and this particular shot is the best I got, some of the earlier images have about 25 pixels dedicated to the bird!

Ask Better Questions - Make Better Photos!

How do you learn to see? The same way we always learn - by asking questions every step of the way - here are some good ones:

  • What is the subject of this photo?
  • Is the subject visually interesting?
  • Is there anything distracting in frame?
  • What would happen if I moved a few meters?
  • What would happen if I zoomed in?
  • Does this photo actuall suck? - will I really want to bother editing this photo later on?

Ask yourself questions like these every time you set up your camera and I will guarantee that your photography will improve - dramatically!

Lake pukaki sunset by Todd Sisson


Sunset at Lake Pukaki - There are no hard and fast 'rules' for composing landscape photos, but I generally try to include visual points of interest throughout the frame - leading lines in the foreground help draw the eye into the frame. I cover the topic of landscape composition in detail in our eBook Living Landscapes, available from Digital Photography School.