Timing in Photography Composition

When we create photographic images, we would like our compositions to be different and eye-catching—even when the subject is common.

We all know that timing is extremely important in photography, as it can make all the difference between an excellent image and one that is mundane.

important of timing in sunset photography

We have the standard timing of sunsets—we have to be on site at the correct time and know when the sun will set.

By the same token, we know at what time the sun will rise if we are looking for sunrise images.

importance of timing in sunrise photography

Both of these are linked to what’s called the “golden hour.”

timing in golden hour photography

Then we have other natural timings to help us capture images we have planned, such as tides:

photography timing tips for tides

This also applies to moonrises and sets:

photography timing tips for moonrise

These are all natural events and we have no way of changing the times at which they occur. If we want sunrise images we have to get out of bed early!

What I would really like to highlight, however, is how we, as photographers, can use timing to get unique images that are truly ours. This is not difficult. All it needs is a bit of forethought and patience.

timing tips for airplane photography

Obviously, sometimes a slice of luck can help!

By just taking time to appreciate what is happening in the scene, we can give it a very different perspective. Look for any movement and decide how to somehow incorporate this into your image—but in a way that will complement the subject.

timing tips for street photography

A standard early morning image of Big Ben along Westminster Bridge. If we take the time to wait, we can catch a bus!

timing tips for street photography

The bus makes the image just a bit different.

We can try to catch the bus again—this is an interesting night scene as is, but, again, a bit of patience can be very rewarding.

timing tips for city photography

timing tips for city photography

The long exposure of the bus really does change the image!

timing tips for ocean photography

Always wait for the right moment—with good timing, we can create excellent images that are distinctly our own! Shooting in digital makes this all so much easier as we can see immediately if we have captured the image we want. Have fun!

About the Author:
Roger Lee is a Johannesburg-based photographic trainer and a cruise ship Photographic Workshop Host at www.camerabasics.net. He runs a “Enjoy Your Camera” course and has eBooks for people who don’t want to drown in detail and just take good images.

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One response to “Timing in Photography Composition”

  1. Thank you for this. So agree. I once got a shot of two ducks flying by, but didn’t realise, till I saw it on my computer, that it actually looked like a four-winged duck – just the positioning of the ducks at the time. One of my fav pics now.

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