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1.4: Form and Composition

  • Page ID
    231817
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    It is a good idea to keep form and composition in mind when getting ready to take a photograph of your subject. Form (elements of design) refers to the physical parts or visual components of a work. These include line, shape, mass/volume, perspective, texture, and color. Composition (principles of design) refers to the ways the design elements are arranged to produce a specific effect. When taking a photograph, the camera becomes an extension of your eye. You use the camera frame to compose the image, choosing the design elements to include and exclude in the frame. When framing your subject, consider the design elements in your view finder that can help to create the most dynamic composition.

    Two important compositional methods for photographers are the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. The rule of thirds refers to the placement of the subject at the intersection of the imaginary horizontal and vertical lines that divide the image into three parts.

    Close-up of a yellow sunflower again a wire fence
    Figure \(\PageIndex{9}\): A natural example of the rule of thirds. (CC BY-NC-SA; Marie Coleman via flickr)

    Image Description: Close-up color photograph of a yellow sunflower with green leaves in front of a wire fence. The fence divides the image into a grid with the sunflower in the line dividing the right third of the image.

    The golden ratio is the relationship of parts achieved when the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. It is thought to provide the most harmonious and visually pleasing proportions in art and architecture.

    Black and white image of a nautilus shell with a golden rectangle overlay
    Figure \(\PageIndex{10}\): The golden rectangle whose side lengths are in the golden ration. (CC BY; The Marmot via flickr)

    Image Description: Black and white photograph that highlights the spiral shape of the nautilus shell by adding a golden rectangle overlay.

    Sachant, Pamela; Blood, Peggy; LeMieux, Jeffery; and Tekippe, Rita, "Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning" (2016). Fine Arts Open Textbooks. 3.
    https://oer.galileo.usg.edu/arts-textbooks/3. Used under the Creative Commons attribution share alike license.


    This page titled 1.4: Form and Composition is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jessica Labatte and Larissa Garcia (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)) .

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