The magic of “7” in composition

This article will no doubt be the shortest one I will ever write about image composition as it contains only one, very simple idea. And, that is the number “7”. If you’re like me and tend to see the world around you as shapes and angles when you have a camera in your hands then this should resonate very strongly with you.

Very often geometric shapes and specific types of angles grab our attention. If you want to discover interesting compositions simply look for angles in the image you are considering…and play close attention to seeing if there is a “7” in your scene. Sometimes they are upright, sometimes lying down. You may be surprised at how often this particular type of angle intersection produces very appealing images.

Rather than write any more, I’ll just show you some images and you can be the judge (I’ll give you some hints along the way). There, that’s it. The formal part of the article is over…171 words.

Examples of Shape Seven in Composition

A whole row of 7’s going up the railing:

magic of 7 image 1

NIKON 1 V2 + 10.0-30.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ ISO 1600, 1/10, f/4.5

Can you see it behind the donkey’s head?

magic of 7 image 2

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ ISO 160, 10/2500, f/6.3

Look up the infinity pool then to the left when you come to the over-the-water bungalows…

magic of 7 image 3

KODAK DX6490 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA @ ISO 80, 1/500, f/5.6

An obvious one in the smoke…

magic of 7 image 4

NIKON D800 @ ISO 400, 10/20000, f/8.0

This one joins the berries and points to the beetles…

magic of 7 image 5

NIKON 1 V2 + 30.0-110.0 mm f/3.8-5.6 @ ISO 1600, 1/125, f/5.6

The curve in the beach…

magic of 7 image 6

NIKON D800 @ ISO 100, 10/3200, f/8.0

This one’s more subtle as it changes colour…do you see it?

magic of 7 image 7

KODAK DX6490 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA @ ISO 80, 1/350, f/2.8

Go up the edge of the infinity pool then take the bridge to the bungalows…

magic of 7 image 8

KODAK DX6490 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA @ ISO 80, 1/350, f/2.8

Go up the path and turn left on the bridge…

magic of 7 image 9

NIKON D800 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 800, 1/160, f/8.0

Beach to building to horizon…

magic of 7 image 10

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 800, 1/250, f/13.0

This one is lying down…

magic of 7 image 11

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 @ ISO 800, 10/4000, f/5.6

Many bird neck/head angles have it…

magic of 7 image 12

NIKON 1 V2 + VR 70-200mm f/4G @ ISO 1600, 10/2000, f/4.0

Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.

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Confessions of a Photo Sinner

WARNING – this contains adult humor of the PG-13 variety, sassy double entendres, and a bunch of my trademark puerile humor too – read at your own risk.

A couple weeks ago Nasim climbed Mount Zeiss with his D810 and returned with Photography’s 16 Commandments (Nasim’s an overachiever, duh). Before Nasim laid down the law, I thought I was doing okay at this photography thing. Now I realize that I’m a really bad photographer, but a golly-danged good sinner. In the hope that confessing my sins in public will lead to absolution, I present the following evidence and beg for forgiveness.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s new camera gear

Verm-Edie-DK-in-bed-37 copy

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 800, 1/30, f/10.0

When you start having affairs with supertelephoto primes you end up not just financially bankrupt, but morally bankrupt too. Trust me, I know.

Thou shalt not give thy subject the mark of the horny Devil


NIKON D7000 + 24.0-120.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 320, 1/250, f/9.0

D’oh! I really need to pay more attention to my backgrounds

Thou shalt not shoot at eye level


NIKON 1 AW1 + 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 @ ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6

Nasim is so right about this – I shot this pic at eye level and when I look at the result I feel like I don’t even know this person. Fortunately, by following Nasim’s example I learned that by raising the camera and shooting downwards on my subject I could achieve more titillating results.


NIKON 1 AW1 + 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 @ ISO 200, 1/100, f/3.5

I wish I could put my finger on what is so much more enticing about this shot than the first one. There’s just something close to the heart that strikes me about this. If I had lowered my camera a few feet this shot would have been a complete bust. I really feel like a boob for not keeping abreast of all the latest camera angle techniques. Why, this is so bursting with potential it could only be better if…


NIKON 1 AW1 + 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 @ ISO 200, 1/100, f/3.5

Ahhh, now that’s dreamy. What? I broke another Commandment? – Thou shalt not apply soft-focus techniques? Cancel my order for the Petzval Portrait Lens.

Thou shalt not shoot wide-angle portraits then convert to black-and-white and add grain to disguise the blurry focus.


NIKON D810 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 500, 1/60, f/10.0

Just when I finally came out of my shell, conquered my fear of intimacy, and got close to some friends with my 16-35mm. Arrrrrggggghhhhhh. Now you know why I shoot wildlife.

Thou shalt not worship subjective characteristics about your objectives, like the false idol Bokeh

It’s easy for you to say put away the cream machine, Nasim – you’re married.


NIKON D810 + 800.0 mm f/5.6 @ ISO 400, 1/500, f/6.3

I, on the other hand, will pump out all the creamy bokeh I want. Gosh-diggity-darnit, I’m going to Hell.

Thou shalt not center their subject, selectively remove all color except the orange channel, oversaturate that channel, shoot it in natural light because Verm sucks at flash, then slap an impressive watermark over the image so nobody steals it


NIKON D810 + 24.0-120.0 mm f/4.0 @ ISO 125, 1/200, f/4.0

This is Nasim smooching (not coveting – oh, no no no) a friend’s 15mm Zeiss prime. After working my standard post-processing magic, I sensed I had a winner here, so I slapped my copyright over the image so Nasim would have to order the non-watermarked wallet-size prints off my website. Furthermore, who knows who will steal my images from the web. Having your images stolen off the web really sucks. But you know what is worse? Doing a reverse image search on Google and finding out nobody is stealing your images.

And Above All – Thou Shalt not Superzoom

My sins in this respect are so numerous they deserve an entire post to themselves.

Thank you, Reader, for being here for me. As soon as I put down this 18-300mm I will recite 100 Hail Nikons and view all images at 1:1 for the rest of Photo Week. Really, truly, I promise I will try to do better in the future. In the meantime remember, a good craftsman never blames his tools – a good photographer always does.

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Brown

Brown is an unassuming and subtle color. For examples see the set of brown tone images I shared earlier.

When I say the word “color” I’m guessing that brown isn’t likely the first one that comes to your mind. But there is so much of this color all around us in the world, in nature. Many animals are brown. Many people have brown hair. It’s a natural and comfortable color, it feels warm.

So your challenge this week is to photograph the color brown. This could be a brown item, or maybe even a black and white image that you make into a sepia tone. Here are a few ideas for you how to incorporate this tone into your images:

Oliver Hammond

By Oliver Hammond

Julie Falk

By Julie Falk

Johnson Cameraface

By Johnson Cameraface

Andy Li

By andy li

Rjabinnik And Rounien

By Rjabinnik and Rounien

David Jenkins

By David Jenkins

Lotte Grønkjær

By Lotte Grønkjær

Algiers Photography

By Algiers Photography


By eirasi

Erica Annie

By Erica Annie

Now it’s your turn to go take some images of brown things, or tone them brown in post-processing.

Share your images of brown

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section as pictured below) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.

Here are some more brown images to give you ideas:

Pieter Musterd

By pieter musterd

Jan Fidler

By Jan Fidler

Eric Vondy

By Eric Vondy

The Wandering Angel

By The Wandering Angel


By Jairo

Okay, what you got?

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Video: Hands-On Review of the Sony A5100 Mirrorless Digital Camera


In the following video, Larry Becker presents an overview of the Sony Alpha a5100 mirrorless digital camera and covers its performance and imaging capabilities, along with a comparison to other current Sony mirrorless cameras. The video begins with an introduction to some of the camera’s specifications, including its 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor, BIONZ X image processor, and Fast Hybrid autofocus system. From here, Becker focuses on the upgraded video quality, including the ability to record in the XAVC S codec, as well as some other unique video recording features. The video then touches on the built-in Wi-Fi, tilting touchscreen LCD monitor, and some accessories suggestions. Finally, Becker wraps it all up with a quick comparison in features between the a5100, a6000, and a5000 cameras. We hope you enjoy the video, and invite you to view the wide selection of other instructional and informative videos at B&

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