More Errors!

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in Articles | 3 Comments

penguin ice

Here’s an oldie of mine that I took 20 years ago. Do you see the compositional error that makes me twitch every time I look at this photo?

The penguins are placed too close to the corner or the composition.  It’s not a horrible composition but it is also not as good as it could’ve been. Moving the penguins out, away from the corner just a smidge would’ve improved the image. Not a big move but an important artistic tweak.

I think there is a certain visual discomfort when an important element of your composition is placed too close to an edge. I see this a lot in critiques especially related to the well known rule of thirds- people put subjects outside the one third compositional points and it just doesn’t look right. The placement is too close to the edge- it looks like a mistake or at least something unintentional and it makes whatever is placed there look uncomfortable.

So try not to compose so tightly that you have no recourse compositionally- give your subject some space, especially subjects that can move. No one puts penguins in the corner, and neither should you!


  1. Brenda
    March 28, 2016

    Dang, I really liked that one… the iceberg looooming over them……

  2. Daniel
    March 29, 2016

    Agreed regarding the iceberg looming. I think the corner/edge placement helps with that effect. My suggested tweak would have been to get some visual separation between the penguins and their background–if only you were ten feet taller!

    • David
      March 30, 2016

      I agree Daniel. I would like to be presented with the same situation again and see what I would do now. At least I am looking back and seeing improvements I could make instead of wondering how I did so well!