Using Repetition in Composition
Photographers are constantly learning new techniques to become better at their crafts. For some photographers, myself included, we never stop learning. There is always some new ideas or technologies or equipment that allow us to improve our work. But often, trying to perfect things we already know can yield better results. Working on composition is a good example of this. One of my favourite techniques is using repetition in composition. Let me explain why.
Repetition is everywhere.
Repetition is one of those natural compositions. When you know what to look for, you’ll be surprised how much it occurs around us – either naturally, or man-made. Sometimes this can be simple repetition like lines or objects, and sometimes it can be more complex like patterns. But they exist everywhere. Using repetition in composition is easy, because most of the work is already done for you.
Patterns occur in nature too.
How do we see repetition?
I think that patterns that occur in nature are harder to spot, compared to patterns that are man-made. For natural patterns, we have to look more closely, at items in detail. Some patterns are not visible when the subject matter is looked at from too far away. Stripes on zebras, striations on rocks or sand, leaves on ferns, and other natural patterns are easier to see when you look closely.
Man-made patterns are usually more visible, because they are purposely created. They have repeated colours or shapes that are laid out in patterns that are obvious even at a distance. Some of the easiest places to find repetitious patterns are in markets and architecture. In markets, shopkeepers lay out their products in patterns that are meant to be eye-catching. Often it will be organized by colour or material. In architecture and design, patterns are used to make buildings more appealing.
When you come across a pattern that you want to photograph, it’s important that you choose your settings carefully. If it’s possible, it is best to photograph the subject on an equal plane. That is – make sure your camera is flat to the subject, rather than at an angle. This will help to make everything remain in focus. If the subject is all at the same relative distance to the camera, then any aperture and shutter speed combination will work.
If the camera is at an oblique angle to the subject, then it’s important to use a small aperture to ensure maximum depth of field. This will ensure that everything is in focus from front to back. In this situation, unless you have lots of daylight, it would be ideal to be using a tripod.