What do you want?

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Hi, I wanted to ask my subscribers what they like best.

Do you like straight up photos, do you prefer art, do you like digital compositions.

I would love you to answer and I will give you some examples to chose from.

Which of the two below would you want if you were purchasing an image?

Please reply in the comments or email me. I really value your feedback.


remebering times gone by

wedding in the park

remembering times gone by

New books available

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I hope you are all having a great weekend. it is a long weekend in Western Australia so we are having a relaxing few days.

I have just released my new book on Composition. It is the sixth in hte series “Quick Tips from a Pro Photographer”. They are available as ebooks or paperback. Just go to amazon and type in Quick Tips from a Pro Photographer and it will bring up all the books in the series so far.

Composition is one of the main building blocks of photography, so this book is a bit longer and a bit more detail and will give you a great base to build your photography on.

I have also started adding photos to Pixoto and they have awesome acrylic blocks and the photos look amazing. You can visit my site here http://www.pixoto.com/julia.harwood1

Red bubble also has started doing scarfs, these are beautiful large scarfs at a very reasonable price with your favorite image on them. go here and have a look at one http://www.redbubble.com/people/juliakharwood/works/14711359-colors-of-kununurra-3?p=scarf

NT Wildlife park

I love these little guys so thought I share him with you.









I am continuing with the books and am about half way through, my health is a real struggle, but I have recently got a spa and it helps a lot. Hope you are all well.

Less Known Composition Rules, Notan

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Well I have covered the main composition rules for photography, but there are three more which are often forgotten.

The first is Notan

What is Notan?

Notan is said to be negative and positive space. Light and dark working together to create a whole, the yin and yang of a high contrast image.

A lot of the time with HDR images the creating on Notan is forgotten as we open up the shadows and loose the true negative space in an image.

A perfect example of negative space is a silhouette.

To use Notan, we need to make shadows actual shadows instead of dark, light areas.

A great way to see the Notan in an image if you have Photoshop is to use the Threshold adjustment layer. It will show you the black and white in the image.

A beautiful example of Notan was provided by one of my Photography Dash students, Mona Nissen



Composition rule Notan









Above is an example of the black and white areas of an image that helps to create the Notan effect

We can see the actual Notan effect by going to Photoshop and in the adjustments select Threshold and you will see the black and white and the composition it creates.


This helps to show you why the first image works so well. We don’t consciousl see the Notan effect, but it still creates a strong image when we use it.


Rules of Composition – Part two

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In this post we will cover more of the rules of composition. Many people think the ratio’s including Rule of Thirds are the end of the composition guidelines, but they are only one aspect. These are some of the others: Rule of Odds, leaving space, colour,texture, patterns (including symmetry), viewpoint, depth of field, orientation, Framing, leading lines, balance, simplify, background, focal depth, angles and take time. I will cover some in this post and the rest in Part three.

First, I want to talk about composition in general. The first two things you should ask when you look at a scene, the first is, what is the interesting element, what will people want to look at or what do I want to show people. Second should be what is the story I want to tell about this. This will then lead your composition. You will know you want to put the interesting elements at the intersecting points of the ratio rules and is there a leading line I can use to draw people into the image. What angle conveys the feeling I am getting. We see in 3D, photos are only 2D, so often we need to exaggerate something to make it feel the same in an image to what we experienced. Choosing a different angle often does this, as do all the rules of composition, so lets have a look at them.

Leading lines are designed to lead your eye into an image. We have learnt in the previous post http://www.juliaharwood.com/aspect-ratio-photography-rules-of-composition/ that the intersection points are where our eyes tend to go first, so we want to create a leading line to draw people into the image and toward the point we want them to focus on .This also often gives the image a feeling of depth. We should stay away from lines that are completely horizontal, except the horizon of course, if a leading line is horizontal, it tends to form a wall or barrier, so we want a line that leads us to the focal point of the image.

leading line with golden ratio

leading line angling in from corner






If the leading line is on an angle, I try to start that angle at the corner of the image as this makes it a stronger leading line.

leading line and rule of thirds

another example of a leading line






This leading line is heading into image along the grid line of the rule of thirds and the dingy is near the intersection of the third lines balancing the image. We want the whole image to be interesting and to get people to give than glance at the image and then move on, so we use the rules of composition to help create an image that stands out and that captures the attention of the viewer.

Orientation is the next we will look at. Does this image lend itself to landscape or portrait orientation. Mainly landscapes are shot in horizontal, but sometimes it pays to experiment with vertical as well and the same goes for portraiture, which is normally shot vertically, try some horizontal ones as well.

Canarvon Jetty

…begins with one step.
Carnarvon Jetty









This is a landscape type image that is taken in a portrait or vertical orientation.


A couple enjoying the sunshine and the seclution of the pools at the top of Joffre Falls








This is an image of people taken in a landscape or horizontal orientation.

Have you ever heard of the Rule of Odds? This is where it is recognized that an odd number of things in a line or row or group is beter than an even number. With an even number our eye automatically goes to the middle of them which is a blank area, but with three it settles on the middle one.

rule of odds

two finches, see how your eye goes to the gap in the centre

three finches

rule of odds













This doesn’t mean you can’t have two people or two animals in a picture, just be aware of this and make sure their is no gap between them or they are interacting.

Jude and Neve

We are drawn to what is in the middle






Our eyes are drawn to what they are looking at between them. so in this case it helps to make the image and direct our eyes.

Another one along these lines is the rule of Leaving Space, this is where you leave room for our eyes to travel around the scene, to look where a model is looking, or to leave room for the boat to travel into or a bird to fly into. This rule states that if the subject is not looking directly to the camera, or looks out of the frame, there should be enough space for the subject to look into and our eyes to wander into. This technique creates intrigue in the minds of the viewers.

This image shows that there is room for the bike to travel into.

Leaving space 1

Motorbike stunt riding






leaving space 2

Low key

This is another example






Next one is ViewPoint. This is whether you take the image from normal height, bend down and get down low, climb a ladder and get up high. This also includes Angles, which is looking for unusual angles to take the image from. All of these help to add interest to the photo and create an image that looks different.

An example of this is with children, If we stand and take the photo we are actually looking down on the child, this makes the child look smaller, getting down to their level gives you a unique perspective. If you lie on the floor and look up to the child you will get a different perspective again.

If you want to make something look bigger or accentuate it’s size, then get down low. if you want to make something smaller and less significant then look down on it as you take the image.

Often if something is very large or very small it is good to include something that is universal to give a perspective on the object.

In this image I have used my finger just to give an indication of the size.

primrose orchid

This shows the size of a primrose orchid









In this one I have taken the praying mantis down at his level, but you can see the branch he is sitting on, so you realize though he looks large in the image, he is actually quite small.

praying mantis 1









In this image I have shot from down below the rocks, giving you a feel of how large the boulders are.

Rock formations

Unusual formations







This is a picture of my puppy, yes she is tiny, the work boots give you a reference point to know her size and I have got down on the grand to take her straight on

tuesday 3

Pappillion puppy






In this image I have enhanced the flower by shooting from below so the flower fills the frame and is highlighted against the light.

red tulip

Canberra Floriade








The next rule I would like to tell you about is Depth, this also includes Depth of Field.

Depth is the feeling of depth, this is another thing that helps make the image look more 3D as we are able to see into the image.  An image that you want to have real depth, for example a landscape image you need to look at the foreground, the middle ground, and background. The photos that really grab your attention will be ones that have some foreground interest as well as the main part of the image and then something interesting in the background, often the background is the sky in landscape.

log at sunset

foreground interest






This image has the branch as the foreground element, the ocean is the mid-ground and the sunset and clouds the background. If we only had two of these elements it would be a nice image, but having all three makes it a much more powerful image.

Depth of Field is used here to make sure that the whole image is in focus so that you can see all the scene. For this I used a large depth of field, which means a small aperture, which is a higher f stop. This was taken at f11.

Depth of field is the area of an image that is in focus.

Aperture is the amount of light that enters the camera. It is similar to the pupil on a human eye. In darker situations our pupil opens up to allow more light in and in really bright light our pupil closes down to let less light in. The f-stop is an inverse of this, so a small aperture is a large f-stop(f11-22) and a large aperture is a small f-stop(f1.5-5.6).

People get very confused with this. I like to remember it like this.

A large aperture = a small depth of field = a small f-stop

A small aperture = a large depth of field = a large f-stop

We can use depth of field to draw the viewers attention to where we want it. For example if it is a busy scene and we want our subject to stand out, then we use a small depth of field, so only the main object is in clear focus and the rest is blurred, we know it’s there, but we don’t pay much attention to it.

This is an image with a narrow depth of field, see how the background is blurred accentuating the flower.

karri spider orchid

shallow DOF

Aspect Ratio – Photography Rules of Composition

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I have recently been asked to explain the different rules of composition, so I thought I would do it here so it is available for everyone.

When we talk about rules of composition in photography we most naturally think of the rule of thirds, but there is actually a few others too, the golden ration,the spiral, diagonals and the triangle.

To explain these I will show you images with these rules applied, but before that I need to explain, the lines themselves are where the eye will normally travel too, the intersection of the lines is the “sweet” spot and is where your main object should be and where your 100% focus should be. Remembering that these are really guidelines, not rules, so if the image doesn’t fall into the sweet spot then still aim for the main object to be on one of the lines.

An example of this is with the rule of thirds, look at the landscape below, the horizon is on the lower line of the rule of thirds and then the point of interest, the houses on the jetty are at the intersecting point. The horizon where it is, helps to balance the image and the “sweet” spot draws our eyes to the buildings and then our eyes naturally follow the leading line of the jetty itself to all the other points of interest. Composition is about more than just ratios so have a look at my other posts on the other rules of composition.

The most well known rule, the rule of thirds, this is like a game of nought and crosses with the image divided into thirds both vertically and horizontally and you try to put your horizon on either the bottom third line or the top third line, this creates a much more appealing composition than the horizon in the dead centre. Now a word of caution here, these are more like guidelines than rules are so can be broken:) For example, with reflections it is often better to have the horizon in the middle, so these are guides, not hard and fast rules.

These rules or guidelines, came about by evidence that the human eye is naturally drawn to the intersection of the lines when the image is divided into thirds, the same applies for the other ratios. Also if the horizon is placed on either the bottom or the top line then the image is much more balanced.


rule of thirds ratio

This is a traditional example of rule of thirds






The next rule which is similar to the rule of thirds is the Golden Ratio. In this one the lines are slightly closer together than in the rule of thirds. These sections that are roughly 1:1.618. (See image below)

composition ratio

The image is divided equally in 3






The next composition rule is the triangle rule. This is often used in portraiture photography. The objects of interest are on mainly one side of the image, with the point of the triangle being the main focal point. Here you can see the pen tip is on the tip of the triangle and the book is angled along the diagonal of the triangle and finally the hands follow the other line of the triangle.

triangle composition

This is a photograpic example of the triangle ratio






Then we have the spiral rule of composition. This is one that is not used a lot, but when it is it is very effective.

Spiral ratio

This is the spiral composition rule






You will notice the curve of the petals starts the spiral and the tightest part of the spiral draws your eye to the in focus area in the centre of the flower.

The final main rule is the rule of diagonals.

ratio composition

This is an example of the diagonals rule of composition






You will notice that the girls body follows the diagonal and the eyes are at the junction points leading your eyes here. This is usually used when there is no horizon in the image and you are using leading lines that are on the diagonal. The main focus areas are along the lines and at the intersecting points, not in the middle, However if you look at the image above you will see that by putting her eyes on the intersecting points the rest of her face falls into the middle, thus the confusion.

Here is an overlay of 4 of the rules. From this you will notice that the sweet spots (the red dots) are quite close to each other, making for an overall sweet area. The red dot at the top that doesn’t appear to correlate with an intersecting line is where the spot would be if the spiral was inverted.

overlay of some of the composition rule

The red dots show the sweet spots of an image






To choose which rule to use, look at your subject, does it have a horizon, can the image be divided up into three sections, does it fit with rule of thirds or golden ratio, then use one of these rules. Is it a close up of an object or a portraiture shot. Portraiture shots usually use the rule of thirds, golden ratio or triangle rules. To use the spiral rule your image needs to have lines or objects that follow a spiral pattern.


The composition ratios are not just as to where the objects fall, the intersecting points are where the focus should be. That is why I have put the girls eyes at the intersecting point as her eyes are the point that needs to be 100% in focus.

Photo composition is one of the important ingredients in making  a great photograph. How you arrange the objects in a scene, where you want the eyes to focus on, what emotion you want the image to convey all contribute  to the overall success of the image.

Will it tell the story as you see it?  Will it have impact? Will that impact be positive or negative? What emotion does it show? Is it just a picture documentation of what is there or is it a creative art image? All these things are brought about by the way you use the rules of composition.

There are many other areas of composition we also need to remember, but I will cover those in another post.

If you have any questions please comment below and feel free to share it with your fellow photographers.

How To Shoot Photos That Sell

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Mother, father and baby

Most photographers never really get around to it, but there’s no denying, the more time you put into identifying the markets for you work and researching their specific needs, more saleable your work is going to be.

There’s no big secret there: the best marketers in any field are those who identify a market, research it and create a product that their new customers simply have to have.

The good news is it’s quite straightforward to apply that approach to your photography. The added bonus is that when you do take this approach your volume will increase significantly as well!

It’s a simple three-step process that you can start now and keep adding to as your skills develop and your interests expand. Don’t let the simplicity fool you; this is very powerful. I’d suggest you get yourself a ring folder and a packet of divider cards so you can add extra pages to various sections as required. Here’s how it works:

1. Make a list of your main subjects… aim for about 10 for now. You will keep on adding to this for years to come so you don’t need to make an exhaustive list right now. Just write down a few of the main subjects you like to shoot, those you shoot well and those you’d really like to shoot more often.

Write each one down at the top of a fresh page. If you are using a ring binder, make these the divider pages so you can insert additional pages between them.

2. Now make a list under each of those ‘Subjects’ of the kinds of photo buyers who might be interested in photos of that material. Write these under the ‘Subject’ heading and be as specific as possible.

3. Now set up a page for each of those Subject-Buyer combinations. You need to go looking for specific examples of that buyer type using an image of that subject. You need to find examples and really study the image to try and work out what was about each image that the buyer just had to have.

Make a note of any technical details of interest if you like, but your main focus should be on the content and composition. Your are researching your market so some study of the competition is useful, but the real value here is in understanding exactly what it is your potential customers are spending their money on.

In every published photo you see there will usually be one or two elements that the buyer simply had to have and they won’t always be the obvious subject.

Even when the photo is a fairly ‘bland’ portrait; human, animal or object, there will usually be some specific trait or feature captured and conveyed that caused the buyer to select that particular image.

Other times it won’t be a physical element, but something less tangible. Maybe a mood or emotion or other message. They are the images you need to study closely so you can see not just the message, but how the photographer used the physical elements of the image to convey it?

Has the photographer used props to add to the story? Are there more subtle symbols in play? How do all the elements fit together? How has the photographer used mood or emotion or lighting?

Until you start to recognize these kinds of elements in other images, it will be hit-and-miss whether you capture them in your own work. However, once you do start to look for these elements in other images, you’ll start to see them in your own photo opportunities, and then you can start include them in your own work.

When you do that I’d almost guarantee you’ll find yourself shooting much more marketable shots. You’ll also find you’re shooting a lot more prolifically as well!

Over time you might end up with notes on dozens of potential buyers for any subject you like to photograph. So when you’re faced with the opportunity to shoot a specific subject, you’ll have an extensive list of what buyer-types are going to be interested in images of the material, and you’ll have specific information on the type of images they want.

Instead of getting one or two ‘photographer’ shots you could easily walk away with dozens of highly marketable images, each custom shot for a different specific market.

Article Courtesy: Matt Brading. GlobalEye Images. If you’re sick of waiting around for random photo sales and you’re ready to build a hands-on stock photography business, be sure to check out the Global Eye approach.

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