Composition Basics in Macro Photography
2 Composition Basics in Macro Photography
Diagonal lines and compositional weight
Another important thing to bear in mind is that having the major lines in the image parallel to the edges is often unappealing. Try to give your images diagonals, and they will benefit greatly.
When shooting invertebrates in the classic 'animal standing on a diagonal plant' pose, I avoid having the plant exit the frame at both corners. Why? The subject itself has a compositional weight, reflecting its actual physical weight. Making the plant or twig exit the frame edge closest to the subject at a lower point can enhance the physicality of the shot.
|The branch exits the frame under the corner-to-corner diagonal, to balance the katydid's presence.|
|This orange-tip butterfly adds compositional weight and 'pushes' the leaf on which it’s standing below the diagonal, thus creating a balanced image.|
The degree to which you depart from the corner-to-corner diagonal should depend on the compositional weight of the subject. Notice that even though the plant or twig is not exiting the frame at the corner, a good composition often aligns the subject's body part nearest the frame edge with the corner. See the examples below.
When deciding whether or not to include a subject's entire body, one guideline to remember is to 'cut hard or not at all'. It’s often problematic to include the whole macro subject in a frame. Apart from anything else, some insects have very long antennae, so including the whole body would mean shooting at a relatively small magnification ratio.
This often conflicts with our wish to obtain good detail in the subject’s body, so sometimes a compromise is necessary, whereby we crop just some of our subject's protruding body parts. Yet this can often be a mistake that seriously hurts the balance in the image, leaving us with neither good composition nor good detail.
My advice? If you find long body parts too obstructive, just get as close as you need without regard for cutting them off. You’ll sometimes get a very good, detailed and balanced result even if you leave a large portion of your subject out of the frame.
It’s extremely important to stress that these rules are meant to be broken. Experiment with composition, try unusual methods and feel free to ignore conventions. But, and this is a big but, always do so with conviction and be thoughtful about it. Breaking the rules is fine, even desirable when you are truly committed to the reason for doing so. This is what art is all about.
For further reading on macro photography take a look at Erez's previous articles in this series:
The what and why of wildlife macro photography
What we want in a macro shot - Detail
What we want in a macro shot - Background
What we want in a macro shot - POV and special scenes
Macro photography: Understanding magnification
Depth of Field in Macro Photography
Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer and photography instructor based in Israel.
In July 2012, Erez will lead a macro and nature photography workshop in Costa Rica, where he will explain his photography techniques and methods with which he achieves his unique results. Registration is open for this unique opportunity to learn first hand from one of the world's leading macro artists.
Please click on the link for more details. You can also contact Erez on his website or at erezmarom[at]hotmail.com with any questions you might have about the workshop.
You can see more of Erez' work at www.erezmarom.com and follow him on his Facebook page and
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.