Completion in photography can mean many things. It brings logic to your images. It can be leading lines that guide you to a connected focal point. Also capturing the full scene in your camera such as a whole tree without any extremities being cut off. Symmetry also plays a part in completion. We have touched on symmetry before in an older tutorial “How To Use the Warp Tool to Balance Composition in Photoshop”. If a scene isn’t complete or nature simply hasn’t created the scene to be complete, we can work our composition to bring completion to our images. In this example, the mountain scene is lovely, but there’s an imbalance. We break down the scene to help you understand what we’re looking for in a completed composition. In this tutorial, we use the Crop tool and you learn How To Bring a Sense of Completion to Your Photos.
How To Bring a Sense of Completion to Your Photos
If you wish to experiment with this, I would really appreciate it if you included my name (Duke McIntyre) and www.shutterevolve.com when you publish your image. If you post your published image on our Facebook page I’d be happy to check it out.
Completion in Photography – Looking at the Scene
The image that we are looking at in this tutorial is by Antony Sklivagkos. It’s not a bad image, not at all! The reason I have chosen this photo to enhance is that I can see there has been a really good attempt already to complete the scene already. There are just a few signs where cropping could have saved the day. On the edges of the image where the mountains end, from left to right they are level (indicated by the yellow line where point A and point B are level). In the immediate foreground, there is a quite prominent ridge (pink box) that puts a barrier up so we’re forced to look at the scene from afar.
The proportion of sky to land is approximately 50/50 (blue box). But then there’s nothing of importance in the sky, so to me the sky has too much presence and is dead space, especially if we think about the rule of thirds. Lastly, the mountains don’t finish in the same direction (red lines). On the left, there’s an incline which doesn’t quite force us up and out of the scene, but takes us laterally away (point A). Where the right of the scene slopes away nicely and completely (point B), the slope also pushes our attention back to the mountain top.
All we need to use is the crop tool, follow the step-by-step instructions below to find out How To Bring a Sense of Completion to Your Photos.
-Tutorial Continued Below-
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How To Bring a Sense of Completion to Your Photos
1. The first thing we need to address is this immediate foreground.
2. Select the Crop Tool.
3. Control points should appear on each side of the image and the corners. Because we’re going to crop the bottom of the scene, we left-click and hold the mouse button down on the bottom centre control.
4. With the mouse button still depressed, drag the control to just above the area that you want to remove or crop. Then release the mouse button.
5. If you’re happy with the position of the crop, hit the enter key or click on the tick at the top of the screen.
6. Now we need to look at this horizon.
7. To determine our horizon line I use a marker. To place a horizontal marker left-click and drag down from the ruler tool above the image. If you don’t see a ruler, go to the View menu and select ruler or press Ctrl+R (Cmd+R Mac).
8. This is the lowest point on the right side of the mountain scene.
9. When compared with the left side, we see there is a difference.
10. Not only is there a difference in horizontal height, but also in what the slopes are doing. I’ve marked in red the slopes that if we allow them to stay in the frame, will lead us away.
11. There doesn’t seem to be any single place along the horizontal plane where the mountains will slope out of the scene. So, we have to look for a vertical place where all of the slopes are angling downwards. To do this we use another marker from the ruler, this time we use the vertical ruler on the left to drag and drop a marker.
12. This seems to be a good spot where all slopes are falling away.
13. Now we bring in a new horizontal marker just the same as we did at points 7 & 8. The difference is now we place this horizontal marker where the slope and the vertical marker on the left meet.
14. Looking at the right-hand side of the image you can see where the slope and horizontal marker now intersect.
15. Looking down vertically, we see that all of the lower slopes are also falling away. Thus confirming, this horizontal marker is well placed.
16. Select the crop tool again. This time drag the left edge control to the vertical marker, it should snap in place.
17. Now drag the right crop control to where the slopes on the right and horizontal marker meet.
18. Once you have finished cropping the edges, hit Enter or press the tick at the top to confirm your crop. This is what we are left with. Now that we have cropped the bottom and the sides, the sky has an even greater share of the scene.
19. You might have guessed it. Using the crop tool one last time, we crop using the top control. I’ve dragged down to roughly balance the ratio of foreground, mid-ground, and background (sky) having an equal share of the scene.
The final image has sloping ridgelines that finish at the same height. The immediate foreground lets us enter the scene without obstruction. And there is a sense of completion with leading lines repeatedly bringing us back into the picture.