Travel iPhoneography - Compositions 02

Dynamic Diagonal

Dynamic Diagonal is when you use a non-diagonal shape to give a diagonal effect. This is because human eyes tend to close the gap of any unfinished shape. This technique is derived from the Gestalt principle theory.

It is not exclusive to just shape, but also lines. Lines that are dramatic are better as it gives more action and satisfaction from completing the gap with lines.

Dynamic Frame

This classic way of composing a subject typically done at doors or windows, but don’t limit yourself. Look for shapes around you and wait for a fascinating subject to enter your frame.

The dynamic frame is where you are framing using a non-framing shape, and also it is looser and not noticeable. This is a more subtle technique to hint your viewer that there is a focal point in the photo, and the frame is just a supporter element.

The loose frame where there is no closure to the frame, but it still works as a framing device. The example I used in my photo is the neck of the horse. The framing is strengthened with the clean line shape of the neck making it looks more like a proper frame.

Another example of a better loose dynamic frame. Notice that there is no closure for the frame when it goes to the sky.

Here is more unconventional framing where the shape and colour of the greenery frame up the architecture. Also, the strong tight line of the palm trees forces viewer not to look outside the ‘frame’.

Here is a unique way to dynamic frame. I use the transparency of the bubble to reveal my subject, but the shape of the bubble lock my lone subject it his own ‘bubble’.

Dynamic Leading Lines

Even when we don’t see it physically, there is actually lines if we know how to read it. Here I lined out the leading lines that are hidden from plain sight.

Behind Point of View

This technique is when we try to have a third person view, where we are behind the first person and looking at the second person. I use the gaze line technique to help my viewer understand where I intend my first person subject trying to look at the second person.

Rule of Third Clean Background

As I mentioned before, the rule of third is very overused. But it is not wrong to use it, especially if you use it correctly and with careful planning. Bring attention to your subject by placing it on the intersection line of 1/3 grid line. But clean up the surrounding of the subject so you can achieve a simple and clean composition.

Space Out

Fill up your frame but not to clutter it with more subject. You can fill up with space to give a balanced composition. Using space as an element, and in this case, space act as an airy element that enables the kite to fly.

Here, the space act as distance, where the man is giving the distance from himself and the cow. The photo feels more full because the viewer explored to each side with both have a focal point to rest their eyes to.

Look Into the Frame

Capture the emotion and soul of your subject by having them to directly look into the frame. This will give an illusion that they are actually looking at your viewer. Because the eye contact is very powerful, your viewer feels that the moment capture is so alive.

The Look Into the Frame is not limited to living subject. Here I use a statue to make it as it is looking directly at the viewer. Because we are attracted to the eye contact, the statue shows a feeling that we can feel, even we consciously know a statue cannot have a feeling.

The key to Look Into the Frame is the eyes. The eyes needed to be visible and pointed directly into the lens. Also, you may have more eyes, but It may lessen the emotional effects as the viewer feels that the subject is not alone, and have ‘friends’ who also looking at the viewer together.


Apart from the eyes, human conscious also please to see the hands, and it will give the feeling of actions. These actions are familiar, and the viewer will understand what the hands are doing quickly.
As an example, here you may feel that I hand out the pastry in the first photo, and gripping the bread in the second photo.

Here I use the hands as to point directions to the right and left. The absent of the head gives a mysterious feeling, but we didn’t feel incomplete because hands photos are very widely used and we are accustomed to seeing hands only photos all the time.

Motion Blur

The iPhone is sometimes unable to capture a fast-moving subject, unless by using burst mode. However, we can use this imperfection to our advantage. Motion blur gives an atmospheric feel where there are living and moving elements in the photo.

A simple technique that I always use is to wait at an exciting wall, and let a fast moving vehicle passing, while tapping the shutter button repeatedly to capture the moving subject. Motorcycle and bicycle are ideal subjects for this composition technique.

Instead of just capturing a non-moving subject, i.e., the heritage house front, I include a local riding his bicycle.

Breaking the Rules

All these composition techniques sometimes feel rigid and ruled out. Look at the Rule of Third, almost everyone knew what it is and became overused. Have fun with your compositions and create your own rules. As an example, use the opposite of Look Into the Frame instead, or maybe cut the head altogether? You be the judge.



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