Gerald Davies - Building up a Composition

We welcomed a new speaker to our club tonight - Gerald Davies from Swansea. Gerald has been successful in both club competitions and has also won a few national awards. His talk tonight was directed at new or intermediate photographers, aiming to build up a photographer’s knowledge of basic to advance compositional techniques. Although geared towards those of us new and intermediate photographers, Gerald gave such a comprehensive and in depth presentation, that I’m sure even the more advanced photographers amongst us would have learned something!

Gerald started off by discussing the Compositional Guidelines, that are there to give guidance, but not to necessarily dictate composition. These guidelines include what is pleasing to the human eye, 50/50, thirds, the Golden Ratio, the Golden mean/spiral, Fibonacci spiral and diagonals. He then ran through the main compositional elements, which are placed into a composition to guide the viewers eye, such as texture, leading lines, shapes, patterns, symmetry, scale, minimalism. He then went on to discuss abstraction, contrast, depth, recession/repeating patterns, visual balance and visual weighting, framing, use of vignette, visual tension, light and shadow. With regards to orientation, he suggested looking for the longest lines in the image, e.g. if these were horizontal then choose landscape.

After the break Gerald then focussed on using the camera controls to aid composition, such as depth of field, shutter speed, picture style to aid black and white composition and reminded us to use the spirit level to ensure the horizon is straight!

We then went through some of the images in the presentation to discuss the various compositional techniques that had been used.

Gerald ended by reminding us that the rules provide the guidelines to enhance the image, but that composition is subjective and personal to the photographer and their particular style.

Some good websites to explore are and

Gerald had brought some books for us to browse through during the break, these were:

“Africa against all Odds”by Glenn Edwards, an award winning photojournalist (apparently a very good speaker, so one to remember for the future).

RPS Portfolio Three - (images from RPS 2010 - 2013).

Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 11 and Collection 8

Next week, 20 September, Mounting Evening by our own Jeff Fugler and John Starzewski who will be demonstrating mounting techniques in a bid to encourage more of us to enter print competitions.

Also remember to bring 3 PDI images for the first PDI competition, or email to Jo.

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