Skip to main content

Composition Digital Field Guide

Composition Digital Field Guide

Alan Hess

ISBN: 978-0-470-92905-6

Jul 2010

272 pages


Product not available for purchase


The go-with-you guide for creating strong compositions every time you take a photo

Composition requires purposeful placement of elements within the frame, including backgrounds, foregrounds, main subjects, and much more. It can take years to acquire strong compositional skills. That's where Composition Digital Field Guide comes in. Packed with full-color photos, this handy guide teaches you how to bring together photographic elements to produce photos that are unique, creative, and memorable.

  • Addresses the skills required to master the art of good composition when taking digital photos
  • Walks you through framing your images carefully, which is the first key step in capturing a strong photograph
  • Features hundreds of stunning and inspiring full-color photos of people, wildlife, and landscapes
  • Includes the newest feature of the Digital Field Guide series: a removable color checker card to help ensure true color in your photographs

It will be difficult to keep your composition while reading the invaluable advice in Composition Digital Field Guide!



CHAPTER 1: Composition Basics.

Focal Lengths and Lenses.




Prime Lenses and Zoom Lenses.

Fixed focal length.

Zoom lenses.

Constant aperture lenses.

Variable aperture lenses.

Picking the Focal Length.

Focus Settings.

Picking the Focus Point.

Recomposing Images.

Sensor Sizes.

CHAPTER 2: Light and Exposure.


Direction of light.

Front lighting.

Back lighting.

Side lighting.

Overhead lighting.

Color of light.

Color temperature.

White balance.

Exposure Basics.


Shutter speed.



Equivalent exposures.

CHAPTER 3: The Rule of Thirds.

What It Is.

When to Use.

The horizon line.


When Not to Use.

CHAPTER 4: Leading Lines.

What Are Leading Lines?


Straight lines.

Curving lines.

When to Use.

What to Look For.

CHAPTER 5: Symmetry and Balance.

What Symmetry and Balance Mean.

When to Use.



What to Look For.

Strong design elements.

Repeating lines.

Unexpected opportunities.

CHAPTER 6: Color.

What Color Means.

How to Use Color.

Black and white.

Color combinations.

Bold and bright.

Understanding White Balance.

What to Look For.

CHAPTER 7: Event Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Fill the frame.

Watch the surroundings and background.

Pick the right lens.

What I want to capture.

The area I am shooting from.

Available light.

Tell a story.

Photographing Fireworks.

Shooting Events.

Knowledge is power.

Pack properly.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 8: Landscape Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Rule of thirds.

Foreground and background.

Leading lines and S curves.



Panorama Photography.

Shooting Landscapes.

The golden hour.

Be patient and watch the light.

Use a tripod.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 9: Portrait Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Focus on the eyes.

Picking the right lens.

Fill the frame.

Frame the subject.

Change your angle.

Watch the background.

Rule of thirds.

Working with People.

Posing tips.



Shooting Portraits.



Makeup and clothes.

Hands, glasses, and other problems.

Portrait lights.

Studio lights.

Small fl ashes.

Light modifiers.



Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 10: Sports and Action Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Fill the frame.

The right lens for the job.

The right angle/position.

Shallow depth of field.

Leading lines.

Space to move.

Shooting Sports and Action Photographs.

Know the sport.

Shooting outdoors.

Shooting indoors.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 11: Travel Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Keep it simple.

Shooting landmarks.

Leading lines.

Pick the right focal length.

Frame your images.

Shooting Travel Photographs.

Photograph the buildings.

Photograph the people.

Asking strangers.

To tip or not to tip.

Posed or candid.

Photograph the action.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 12: Wedding Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Using the rule of thirds.

Centering the subjects.

Using leading lines.

Using different focal lengths.

Shooting Weddings.

The bride.

Getting ready.

Wedding portraits.

Group shots.



The wedding plan.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 13: Wildlife and Animal Photography.

Composition Considerations.

Remove fences and barriers.

Glass wall.

Fence or cage.

Watch the background.

Fill the frame versus leave a little space.

Focus on the eyes.

Shooting Wildlife and Animal Photographs.

Composition Tips.

CHAPTER 14: Creative Composition.



Black-and-white Images.

Abstract Images.

APPENDIX A: Composition Adjustments in Postproduction.

Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Camera Raw.


Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Apple Aperture.

Apple iPhoto.

APPENDIX B: How to Use the Gray Card and Color Checker.

The Gray Card.

The Color Checker.