Use ‘Gaussian Blur’ to better determine your compositions in photography:

Why Gaussian Blur?

Gaussian Blur: better helps you determine the “figure to ground” of a photograph [contrast].

The basic notion is this:

Create separation/contrast between your subject and the background.

The more your subject can “pop” from the background, the better.

The test

How to apply gaussian blur in photoshop
How to apply gaussian blur in photoshop
Radius of blur in gaussian blur for photoshop
Radius of blur in gaussian blur for photoshop [just play around with the settings, until it looks good to you]

The test is simple:

  1. Apply Gaussian Blur to your photograph
  2. See if the photograph “pops” from the background
  3. Draw in the composition, to better get a sense of the proportions of your composition.

What we are looking for

We are striving towards the optimal “simple” composition.

Furthermore, by applying Gaussian Blur to your photos, you better understand your compositions.

Inverse + Gaussian Blur

Another tip:

Inverse your photo, then apply the Gaussian Blur.

This further abstracts your images, and helps you even better understand your compositions.


Sketching your compositions

Another idea:

Take a composition you like, then use an app like ProCreate [iPad] to fill in the blurry portions of your frame, to better understand the geometry/proportions of your frame.

Then turn your composition layers into an animated GIF, to better understand the composition.

Animated GIF created in procreate for ipad
Animated GIF created in procreate for ipad

No glasses test

Another thought:

Look at your photos without having your glasses on [to simulate the “gaussian blur”]

Or if you have good eyes, cover one eye, and squint the other one.

Or look at your photos as small thumbnails to better determine the composition.

Filled in photograph with iPad and Procreate app
Filled in photograph with iPad and Procreate app

Blur is good

Blur more of your photos [Gaussian Blur after the fact], or blurry out-of-camera!

  1. Shoot out of focus photos intentionally
  2. Photograph moving subjects [while you are standing still]
  3. Photograph stationary subjects as you are moving
  4. Photograph moving subjects as you are moving
  5. Photograph stationary subjects while intentionally pulling your camera toward the frame or away [slow shutter speed].

Anti-perfection

Blur is better. Why? Photos become more “imperfect”; which are more beautiful.

SHOOT ON!

ERIC

COMPOSITION

ERIC KIM X ANNETTE KIM X BAUHAUS REMIX

Master composition for yourself:

Street Photography Composition Tips

Tokyo, 2017
Tokyo, 2017

Photography Composition Concepts

Photography Composition Tips

Color Theory

Color wheel theory: Dynamic tension between opposing colors.
Color wheel theory: Dynamic tension between opposing colors. Image from CREATIVE EVERY DAY

Learn From the Masters of Composition

Sergio Larrain Compositions
Sergio Larrain Compositions

Dynamic Photography Composition 101

Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION

Painting Compositions

Vermeer

Dynamic Photography Composition Tips

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Composition Theory

Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM

Take your composition to the next level:


Street Photography Composition 101

DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM
DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM

For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”

Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:

Composition Theory

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Learn compositional theory:


Compositional lessons from the masters of art


Composition lectures


Composition pictures/grids

Eric Kim photography Bauhaus Piet Mondrian

Golden Diagonal Composition

golden diagonal composition
Golden Diagonal Composition / Kyoto Station, 2018
ERIC KIM workshops red hand

Unleash your creative potential:

2020:

2021:

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