Cameras How to Preparation Production Shooting

Pretty as a picture: Find the perfect composition

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There is something attractive and admirable about a woman who remains composed through any situation. The same concept can apply to an image.

Similar to the way light conceals and reveals, an image’s composition can tell a story or hint at a secret that is only revealed in the next shot. Position, angle and lens are all factors when shooting the final footage.

A composition can place the audience as a passive third-party observer or immerse the audience by matching their gaze with someone else’s in a scene.

Along the lines

The rule of thirds ensures a dynamic yet balanced composition every time. The name refers to the frame splitting into thirds both horizontally and vertically. This produces four points used to line up the main subjects in a scene.

By splitting the frame into thirds, viewers understand the perspectives in the scene better. Landscape horizons are typically aligned to the upper or lower horizontal third lines to show more foreground or background to create a three-dimensional quality on a flat screen.

Vertical thirds as in a landscape shot must exist more so in film than in a still, to provide room for a subject to move across the scene. When a subject moves from the left vertical third to the right, this implies action will happen in the right section of the frame, for example.

Through the looking glass

A normal lens of 50mm will mirror what eyes usually see. A wider lens from the same distance will provide the same perspective but show more of the scene with a deeper depth of field.

An extreme wide-angle lens will distort the look of any subject close to the lens to make them appear larger. This lens can also create wider separation of characters.

Telephoto lenses bring foreground and background closer together by compressing the space between them. The shallower depth of field caused by this lens will also put the main subject in focus, isolated from the background.