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General Blog

Composing In Camera

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley

Phase One XF 100MP, 240mm Schneider, stitch, f11 @ 1/160 second, ISO 50


One of the skills we can all learn is to compose in camera. For some photographers, this means composing the content of the photograph in a pleasing manner within the frame provided by the camera. And this is a great starting point.


But hopefully it’s not your end point. The idea behind composing in camera is, surely, to have in mind a final outcome. So, whether you are thinking of a square or a panorama, the idea begins when you look through the viewfinder. There is no law that states your creativity must be confined to the format of your digital sensor (or film).


Looking through the viewfinder at Mesquite earlier this year, I loved the ‘S’ shape of the dunes, but for the composition to work, I needed a little more space either side. If you click the ‘Read More’ you can see the first image, plus the two shots used to stitch a wider view.


With a zoom lens, I could have zoomed out a little wide and cropped top and bottom. With a fixed 240mm lens (like a 150mm on a full frame DSLR), I could change to a 110mm (my next widest lens), or swing the camera left and right.


The takeaway is that the best time to consider framing and frame shapes is when you are taking the photograph. You might also make cropping decisions later on in post-production, but sometimes by then it’s too late, so another suggestion I make on workshops is to shoot a scene like this with a wider lens as well – which will allow you to consider your final composition at a later time while working in Capture One, Lightroom or Photoshop.


The view with the 240mm wasn't quite wide enough for the sense of space desired.

The angle to the right includes unwanted foliage, but this can be removed in Photoshop or Lightroom.

The angle to the left is problem free! Note, the final stitch has also been 'squished'.



And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months or so, I have places left on trips going to Bhutan, South West USA, Antarctica and the Svalbard. Full details on the Better Photography website!


Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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