Elements of Photography Part-1 - Lecture 5

Elements of Photography: Part – 1

Hello students in this session we'll be understanding about Elements of Photography.
Introduction The basic elements of photography are essential in producing quality of photographs; to capture good photographs one should know each and every elements of photography such as photographic composition, colors, lighting, textures etc. The basic elements of photography are – The Subject The Camera The Light Texture Angle Composition All these elements help photographer to present his imagination in a better way. Let us discuss about each element in detail.
Subject Subject is the most important element of any photograph. Without any subject getting involved by a photographer, viewers can’t concentrate or can’t indulge in that photograph, although this kind of photography is known as Abstract photography, in which no subject can be identified by the viewer.

A photographer who can identify the subject, which should be involved in his composition, can definitely succeed faster. Basically it’s a key to success, identify your subject & frame the subject in a manner that it should dominate in the composition. Each picture should have only one principal idea, topic, or centre of interest to which the viewer's eyes are attracted. Subordinate elements within the picture must support and focus attention on the principal feature so it alone is emphasized.
A picture without a dominant centre of interest or one with more than one dominant centre of interest is puzzling to a viewer. Subsequently, the viewer becomes confused and wonders what the picture is all about. When the picture has one, and only one, dominant "point of interest," the viewer quickly understands the picture.
"Point of interest," as used here, has the same meaning as centre of interest; that is, a specific topic, idea, or subject to be portrayed must be set in your mind as you prepare to take a picture. When there is nothing in the picture to attract attention to a particular area or object, the eyes wander throughout the scene. The centre of interest may be a single object or numerous ones arranged so attention is directed to one definite area.

A photographer usually has many factors or elements that can be used and arranged within the picture area to draw or direct attention to the primary idea of the picture. Some of these elements are lines, shapes, human figures, tone, and texture.
Human figures attract attention more strongly than almost any other subject matter. When people are included in a scene for comparative size of objects or just for atmosphere, keep them from looking directly at the camera.


Camera is an essential element required to click a photograph. It is the only medium by which we can click a moment & preserve it forever, thus helping us in creating memories.
There are certain components of camera, that indeed helps in composing the frame & the shot, such as Lens, Sensor, recording medium, aperture, shutter speed, Focus, exposure control.
The lens of a camera captures the light from the subject and brings it to a focus on the film or sensor. The design and manufacture of the lens defines the quality of the photograph being taken. Camera lenses are made in a wide range of focal lengths. They range from extreme wide angle, wide angle, standard, medium and telephoto. Each lens is best suited a certain type of photography. For example, the extreme wide angle may be preferred for because it has the capacity to capture a wide view of a building. A normal lens, because it often has a wide aperture, is often used for streets. These days most common type of cameras that are getting used is DSLR cameras, that is Digital SLR cameras; which allows us to change the lens according to our use, & demands. Lenses have two types of rings on them that are of Focus & of Zoom. Focus ring help in focusing the subject, as desired by the practitioner. Whereas zoom ring helps in zooming-in or zooming-out, in order to frame the subject according to the practitioner’s wish.
There are various ways of focusing a camera accurately. The simplest cameras have and use a small aperture and wide-angle lens to ensure that everything within a certain range of distance from the lens, usually around 3 metres, that is 10 feet to infinity, is in reasonable focus. Fixed focus cameras are usually inexpensive types, such as single-use cameras. The camera can also have a limited focusing range or that is indicated on the camera body. Single-lens reflex cameras allow the photographer to determine the focus and helps in composing visually using the objective lens and a moving mirror to project the image onto a ground glass or plastic micro-prism screen.Remember, you click a photograph with a camera; therefore, it’s kind of an essential element to have. Either ways we can click a photo, without subject, lighting, etc. but we can’t forget camera while shooting.


To start off, from basic level a camera is a device for capturing and recording light, therefore patterns of light and shades are the most basic elements of any photograph. A photographer needs a deep understanding of how light affects the operation of a camera and how light affects the photograph produced by that camera. Key issue to be considered are the level of light and the angle of light. The level of light in a photograph affects the level of detail visible in light or dark areas in the photograph: if the camera is exposed to a high level of light shaded areas will seem darker. The angle of light refers to the location of the original source of light in the photograph and determines the distribution of shadows in the photograph.
Effective use of light is the element that truly sets a photo apart as "great" instead of simply adequate. Experienced photographers seek out the light either right after sunrise or just before sunset, because the angle of the sun is low, illuminating the subject with a lovely glow. Unfortunately, our photo opportunities are rarely timed to coincide with these "golden hours." Knowing about the various qualities of light can help you arrange your shots to best advantage.
Light literally brings the photograph to life, and the type and quality of light have the strongest effect on the resulting image. Often, photographers are inspired to create a photograph because the light is so lovely, casting on the subject a quality uniquely rendered by film.
There are many ways which are used to do lighting, some of them are – Key lighting, 2-point lighting, 3-point lighting, & hair-line lighting. These all various versions of lighting techniques are used at different occasions depending upon the need & choice of the practitioner. A very impressive phrase given by George Eastman on lighting says that - Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.


Texture is an element of a photograph that inspires a sense of tactility in the observer that is the photograph makes you want to reach in and touch it. The texture will involve the detailed surface properties of the object or objects depicted in the photograph. These can be irregularities in the surface of a piece of wood or the complexity of a patterned fabric.
Texture helps to emphasize the features and details in a photograph. By capturing "texture" of objects being photographed, you can create form. When people observe a soft, furry object or a smooth, shining surface, they have a strong urge to touch it. You can provide much of the pleasure people get from the feel of touching such objects by rendering texture in your pictures. Texture can be used to give realism and character to a picture and may in itself be the subject of a photograph. When texture is used as a subordinate element within the picture, it lends strength to the main idea in the photograph. It usually takes just a little different lighting or a slight change in camera position to improve the rendering of texture in a picture. When an area in a photograph shows rich texture, the textured area usually creates a form or shape; therefore, it should be considered in planning the photograph.

Abstract is a kind of texture in which, the texture is the subject of an abstract photo. You may not be able to identify what it is exactly, but the texture is interesting enough that you viewer wants to touch it.
A small imbedded part of texture is Tone; it is probably the most intangible element of composition. Tone may consist of shadings from white-to-gray-to-black, or it may consist of darks against lights with little or no grays. The use of dark areas against light areas is a common method of adding the feeling of a third dimension to a two-dimensional black-and-white picture. The interaction of light against dark shades in varying degrees helps to set the mood of a composition. A picture consisting of dark or sober shades conveys mystery, intrigue, or sadness. When the tones are mostly light and airy, the picture portrays lightness, joy, or airiness.

Angle or Vantage Point

Angle or the vantage point is the position from which the photograph was taken. It is the point of view of the viewer of the photograph. Different vantage points can convey different relationships with the objects depicted in the photograph. Viewed from a low vantage point looking up at an object conveys dominance, power and authority. Viewing from a level vantage point conveys neutrality and objectivity. A vantage point above and looking down on the object suggests vulnerability and weakness. Photographing from a different viewpoint or camera angle can often add drama and excitement or even bring out an unusual aspect of a subject. Most of the subjects which we photograph are three-dimensional and should be photographed from an angle that allows the viewer to see more than one side of the subject. The photographer should study the subject from different sides and angles. Walk around the subject and look at it from all viewpoints. See it from elevated and low positions as well as from eye level to find the best composition. This greatly assists in composing the subject for the best balance and helps to select a background that compliments, not distracts from the subject. The terms viewpoint and camera angle are often used in conjunction with one another and sometimes used interchangeably. They can also have different meanings depending on how they are applied. "Viewpoint" is the camera position in relationship to the subject. "Camera angle" is the angle in which the camera lens is tilted. It can be High angle, low angle, eye level, & knee shot. For example

Eye-Level Shots are those when the camera held horizontal, eye-level shots are usually made at a height of about 5 1/2 feet, the height from which the average adult sees, and with the camera horizontal. With the camera held at eye level but pointed up or down, the camera position changes and you have either a low or high camera angle, respectively. 


Basically composition means the way things are arranged in a photo. The composition is WHAT YOU SEE in the frame. There are various guidelines and artistic conventions that attempt to describe what makes a good composition. The most recognized of these is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds involves dividing the rectangular frame of the photograph into nine equally-sized sections using two imaginary vertical lines and two imaginary horizontal lines. The photographer then tries to align the main objects of the photograph along the lines or at their points of intersection. This is believed to create a balanced and aesthetically pleasing composition. The way you arrange the elements of a scene within a picture that catch’s the viewer’s attention, please the eye, or make a clear statement are all qualities of good composition. By developing photographic composition skills, you can produce photographs that suggest movement, life, depth, shape, and form, recreating the impact of the original scene.
There are many things in composition which are kept in mind while designing a composition such as – Subject placement, Simplicity, Balance, contrast, framing, Foreground, Background, perspective, Volume, Pattern and shapes & line.
Conclusion Remembering all these 6 elements of photography one can create a master piece. Following these elements & using them according to the need of the frame, that is when to use which element; one can become a maestro of photography. Although it’s not so easy to inherit them in you so easily, one requires practice & more of it a keen urge to practice photography.


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