Negative Space -- Butterfly on Cone Flower
Time for another principle -- negative space. Most beginners think that a photo must be a riot of activity and they are uncomfortable with places in the photo where nothing is going on. The parallel for this is a musician who has to learn about creating drama with silence. Listen to Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and you will get it.
Negative space is visual silence, or at least whispering. This photo roughly conforms to much of what has been discussed, the rule of thirds, repetition (the cone flowers), and odd number of elements (the three cone flowers). Now we have negative space on the upper left. Negative space creates tension with the rest of the image, and equally important, provides dramatic contrast and probably makes the image look more vivid. As they say, it is the silence between the notes that creates the music.
Bokeh and Pattern -- Swallowtail on Purple Flower
This is another useful illustration of negative space. Here, in the background is a pleasing intersection of two stalks of grass that intersect almost perfectly at the top third line and at the intersection points. The dark mysterious color of this out of focus background (called bokeh by professional photographers) offers an interesting contrast to the brightly lit and colorful foreground subjects.
Setting Context -- Swallowtail on Bluff
This picture was taken along the bluffline at the Buffalo National River Park. The leaning plants provide an interesting, colorful, backdrop against the butterfly. Note that the stalk of the most visible plant nearly perfectly intersects with the upper right intersection point and it roughly parallels the back edge of the butterfly wing (repetition or rythm, albeit abstract). Here the flower nicely parallels the body line of the butterfly as well.
Butterflies are most often photographed very tight. I admit that I have done that often and still do. This slight pull back provides more details about the context and tells a story. More visual elelments provides more opportunity to create wonderful compositions.
Cropping Subjects -- Skipper on Sunflower
There is no need to photograph an entire object. In fact, there are good reasons not to. This type of photograph holds interest because the viewer is stimulated to complete the image. The skipper butterfly is very small and it also benefits from this closeup. In this case, we have to zoom in to get the subject right. It demonstrates the size of the butterfly.
Natural Frames -- Passion Flower along Fence Line
Another general track in photographic composition is to find a new point of view. This photograph of a single passion flower bloom is one of those photos.
The bloom is relatively small in the frame. There is an interesting frame within the frame that is the parallel strands of barbed wire. It is interesting that there are tendrils crossing the lower third intersectons. The curls at the ends of tendrils create interesting accents. The two buds next
to the open bloom create an interesting repitition, as does the vine paralleling the barbed wire.
Existing Light for Drama -- Purple Iris
This is another example of dramatic, complex light on a very colorful subject. The conventional approach to a subject like this would be flash. Existing light provides extreme animation and subtlety in many shades of color and shadow. The bloom is almost symmetrical but not quite. Note how the third point intersections fall on the composition.
This was taken with a point and shoot camera on a tripod just before sunset. It was a rather long exposure and could not be hand held.