Photography Basics Explained


What makes us stop and look at a photograph? What’s sets a part a breathtaking picture from just a decent one? Well, as with any art form there are several principles artist rely on to take their work from ordinary to extraordinary. Three of those principles are the rule of thirds, leading lines, and depth of field.

Rule of Thirds

Description: Western Brier Island Lighthouse

Photographer: Denny Jarvis


Here we see that the photographer followed the rule of thirds by placing the lighthouse along the right line, as well as well the horizontal lines intersect. This balances the photograph and add visual interest.

Here’s one I took with my smartphone. Although it’s not professional, the same concept is added to instantly make the eye look at the shed.

As with the lighthouse, I tried to have the main elements of the shed, the window and door, be on the right vertical line and have most of the house be in between those intersections. If I had just taken a picture of the shed head on, it would not have shown it’s size relative to other objects and would not be as visually interesting.

Leading Lines

Description: Hallway BW 2001 ISO

Photographer: Shanti Knapp


This photo illustrates the principle of leading lines having all the lines place towards the door. This pulls us in and makes or eye follow through the scene.

Here’s one eye took of a hallway at my school. The same concept is guide the eye, and I also added more black and white contrast for effect.

We can see that all the lines point towards the doors, and pulls us through the whole scene. This hallway in particular is also helped by all the cinder block, making even more leading lines throughout the picture. I only highlighted the main ones to to show how much more visual interested is added with just a few lines.

Depth of Field

Description: f/1.4-1/64sec, ISO 100

Photographer: Alexander J.E. Bradley


Choosing a subject and focusing the picture solely on that subject help that subject catch the eye. Depth is important because a picture is mostly flat, but we can give it more of a 3 dimensional feel but blurring objects in the background.

Here’s one I took, focusing on the yellow flower mostly (and using rule of thirds), and blurring out the temple in the background.

This focus helps us see the identifiable structure, but also focus on the flowers at the foreground. I also think it can be visually interesting because most picture of the temple seem to make the temple the central focus. Here we can see that the pictures has “layers,” and it’s not a flat surface. This is why depth can make such a difference in photos.


There are many tools photographers use to enhance their photographs. We can utilize these same basic concepts of the rule of thirds, leading lines and depth to find interesting ways to capture ordinary things. It’s not just the camera that makes the photographer, but how the photographer uses it to make eye-catching images.



Typography: Seeing the Invisible


Cover of “The City Magazine,” February 2016. 

Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Mozelle

Designer: Unknown


Typeface #1: This magazine title falls into the Serif category (as circled in the letter C), specifically into the Modern typeface. At first glance, it may look like the Oldstyle typeface, but there are a few things that set it apart, even in all caps. They both have serifs, but when you take a closer look at the “T” in “CITY” you can see the vertical stress on the letters. The “Y” in the same word shows the radical thin/thick transition. The word “MAGAZINE” shows more of this but because the contrast and size aren’t great it is harder to see.

Typeface #2: This font falls into the Sans Serif category and typeface, meaning there are no serifs. There is no stress on the words, and also no thin/thick transitions. This can be see in all the letter but here, the “O” is circled to illustrate how the thickness is the same all the way around. Notice how all the letters have the same weight, as in the thickness of the strokes are the same. This characteristic is called “monoweight.”

How they contrast: As mentioned earlier, typeface #1 has serifs and typeface #2 does not have serifs (sans serif). This is a contrast of structure. These typefaces also contrast in size, no only is “MAN OF THE MOMENT” only one size, but the magazine title uses different sizes but “CITY” is much larger than the sans serif font. The weight of the typefaces also contrast because the sans serif bottom text is bold, and the magazine title is not. The form of the words are also different, shown here in the word “THE.” In the serif font their is more space in between the letters than in the sans serif font, also illustrated in “MOMENT.” Lastly, the colors are different, with the magazine title being gold and the subtitle being white, which really stands out. All these small differences create a big impact when examined closely.


The overall design uses different types of typefaces to contrast the magazine title from the subtitle. in the bottom of the picture, we see the names of several articles in the magazine, and these have the same font as the subtitle, using some repetition to try to tie a somewhat jumbled cover page. Both of these fonts are center-aligned, with the picture also at the center. The proximity of the magazine title to the top of the page, and the emphasis on the word “CITY” let’s us know this is the title of the magazine. The words “MAN OF THE MOMENT” right underneath Leonardo DiCaprio communicates that the words refer to him, and that that is the main article of this issue. Besides the typeface, we can see that the other 4 design principles also play a huge role on what is to be communicated in this magazine cover.


Deconstructing a Magazine Ad

HSBC – “Turtle”

Advertising Agency: JWT, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Creative Directors: Mario D’Andrea, Fabio Miraglia, Roberto Fernandez

Art Director: Silvio Medeiros

Copywriter: Leandro Pinheiro

Illustrator: Open The Door


Contrast:  This ad uses contrasts mostly in colors, with a very bold black and white image mostly. Half of the page is white with the images in black, and the other half is black with the images and text in white. The artist uses this to it’s advantage, by changing the image slightly and using the negative space in the second half to reveal the turtle changing into a plastic bag.

Repetition: The artist repeats the turtle image over and the white space (empty space) that turns into the plastic bag with minor alterations. Because the image of the turtle also repeats horizontally, and fills a diamond shape, it is clear to see the turtle (or the plastic bag) even with the minor alterations.

Alignment: Firstly, the images of the turtles and the plastic bags are all right-centered. Due to the image “transforming” I think this is a good choice for us to see it the turtle at the very top directly above the final plastic bag, making the visual connection more evident than if the images where flushed left or flushed right. The text on the right doesn’t have a strong alignment but the words are in italics, and the sentence one the bottom is spaced to the right of the one above it, so it flows in the natural left-to-right way most of us read.

Proximity: The images are all evenly spaced, helping with the illusion that is revealed at the end. All the turtles that have the same features are related to each other, with minor changes only when you go to the next line. Although there are many images in the larger images,  they still become one visual unit.  Another trick the artist used is once you get to the final bag, our eyes fall in the bottom center, and the text is on the right, because we tend to read left to right. If the text were on the right, our eyes wouldn’t naturally go back to the right after looking at the image in the center.

Color: Although the image is mostly black and white, the artist makes certain deliberate choices to make the image stand out. It uses the same hue of red used in the HSBC Insurance logo as a borer to the ad, not only to connect the ad with the company, but also to make the ad come forward and make an impact, even if the inside is purely black and white.


The artist used the elements of contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity and color to take a general ad into an extraordinary one with you powerful message that sticks. The whole image is a contrast of black and white, with images of the opposite color from top to bottom. Familiar patterns emerge until the Background’s repeating pattern is revealed to be something we recognize-the plastic bag, with the help of the contrast. Usually, centered alignment can have a boring look, but because the pattern forms a diamond shape and the tip at the top aligns horizontally with the tip at the bottle, the impact of the turtle transforming into a plastic bag is felt more strongly. The equal proximity of the images between each other, and the text guiding moving with the eye to the right make sure the small text is not missed. The eye-catching red on the border helps us pay attention to what seems to be a simple black and white image. The red also helps us looks at the only other red in the picture, HSBC logo and matching tag line. All these elements help the sign not only evoke an emotion, but ensures we will not forget the image.