To centre or not to centre, that is the question

I love finding leading lines in nature and never hesitate to grab my camera when there is a shot to be taken looking down a road or a path lined with trees or a fence.  They give the scene such a sense of depth and lead you right into the photo where you feel a desire to follow the road or path to see what is at the end.

As you all know, I have been learning to experiment more with my camera, and one of the things I have been experimenting with the most is changing my composition so that the scene or subject is not centred.  Shooting a scene with leading lines I would always automatically centre the path in my frame.  On the day that we were visiting Tralee, I looked down this trail they use to train the horses, and I was sure it would make an attractive photograph.  I snapped two shots – one with the path off centre and one with the path centred.  For some reason, the off centre shot appeals to me more, but I’m not totally sure why.  I think I just feel the depth more in that shot.

I would really love to hear all of your opinions about these shots.  Which one do you like better and why?

Horse Trail 1

Horse Trail 2

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This entry was posted in Blogging, Caledon, Ontario, Colours, Curves, Lines & Shapes, Composition, Country Living, Flowers, Trees & Grass, Leading Lines, Nature, Photography, Photography Experiments, Rural Photography, Scenery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to To centre or not to centre, that is the question

  1. beckyday6 says:

    Not to center! Mwuhuhuuuuuu 🙂
    It makes it look more interesting and thought out. More unique in comparison to a normal everyday sightseer who would always take something straight on, if you get what I mean? 😛
    I also prefer the way the path leads the eye into the picture, like leading you down a tunnel. 😀

    • I totally agree – the off centre shot does lead your eye into the picture more! I used to take the “everyday sightseer” shots all the time, but I think my photography is becoming a lot more interesting as I stray away from the obvious, and it’s so much fun experimenting and learning. Thanks Becky :).

  2. dogear6 says:

    I like the center shot better – it’s still not symmetrical because the wood on the left are so different than the ones on the right. Then again, I like symmetry whether in my photos or on my desk at work. Both shots are very good, so I wouldn’t worry about what’s “right” or “better”. Go with what you like and tell you internal critic to go away (or whatever stronger wording you might prefer!).

    Nancy

    • My kids always tell me I’m OCD because things have to be “just so”, and that’s why I usually go for the perfectly centred shot LOL! However, you’re right, the trees are different on each side, so either shot works :). Thanks Nancy!

      • dogear6 says:

        It took me a while to realize that sometimes I took a series of photos and that personal preference was the only difference between what I liked better and what I didn’t.

  3. Jeff Sinon says:

    AS Rick Sammon says, “dead center is deadly.” I find the first one much more engaging. I find my eyes wandering around the photo more. In the second I’m just glued to the center of the frame. But what do I know? 😉

    • You know a great deal – that’s why I always value your opinion so much :). You and I think alike on this one. The first photo just pulls me in more and makes me more curious, but I do like both of them. Thanks Jeff :).

  4. dorannrule says:

    I like the centered one Cindy – because I feel like I am tilting in the first one. Like something is missing – like asking myself what has been cropped out of this beautiful path? Why is it off center? Whereas the centered one has mystery enough in where it leads. But what would you expect from a “centered” person anyway?

    • I never thought of it that way Dor, but I can really see how you get that feeling that something is missing. I should do this more often, posting two similar photos and asking for opinions, because it’s really interesting hearing the different points of view. By the way, it’s good to know I have someone centred in my life :).

  5. Cindy I agree rules are meant to be broken and while I think both images work my preference in this case is the centred one. I like the way the trees converge on each other and (perhaps, because you’ve used a wider angle of view) there’s more depth to this image.

    • Yes, I totally see what you are saying – the wider angle of view allows you to see more of how the trees converge at the top and makes the path appear longer. I like both shots in different ways. Thanks for your feedback Edith – it helps me learn :).

  6. ladyfi says:

    I love off centre shots most of the time. But when it comes to lines that lead the eye – like a path or jetty, I think it works better being centred…

  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    Although I normally look for any kind of a different approach, on this photo I’ve gotta go with the more centered one. The other looks chopped off and I want to physically more it over to see more of what is on the left.
    To me, the off center one looks like a mistake. Like a photo someone would take and then later look at it and think…’why didn’t I just move it over more?’

    • Looking at the photos again, I totally understand what you are saying about the first one looking chopped off, but there’s still something about it that appeals to me so much more than the other one. It’s really interesting reading all of the different opinions. Thanks Phil :).

  8. TBM says:

    I’m not too much into rules–I don’t break the law just to break the law, but I don’t like to do things just because someone told me to. Given that, I prefer the first shot. I wonder what it would look like with more of a tilt to the right. Both shots are cool though and I’m jealous that you have snow. Um, where’s the mystery photo by the way!

    • I went back to the photo and tilted my head, and I think it might make you feel like you are falling right into the picture :). Might be kinda cool! As for the snow, you can have it. We are under storm warnings here, and I just wish it could have waited a few days until my parents get here safely. They have a four hour drive!! So far, Sunday looks the best for them on the roads, so that’s when they are leaving. Keep your fingers crossed!!

      • TBM says:

        Fingers are crossed so I’m typing this with my nose. Not easy to do

      • Crap! Things just got worse – now we just found out about a death in the family so I will be spending part of the holidays at a funeral :(. The visitation at the funeral home is like 2 1/2 hours away, and my parents really want to be there because it’s my mom’s first cousin, and it might be on the one day I have to work between Christmas and New Years! Yikes!

      • TBM says:

        I’m so sorry to hear the news. Please tell everyone to drive safe in the snow. My thoughts are with your family.

      • Thank you my friend! I was really quite down when I first got home from work yesterday, thinking of my cousin’s wife and how horrible her Christmas will be, but then my kids and my husband got up to their usual antics around the dinner table, and they had me laughing in no time. Laughter is the best medicine :).

  9. I love the off-centre one mainly because I am a little off-centre –both are great pics though and lead the imagination on down the road
    I agree with TBM–where is the mystery photo–we want it and we want it now and we want it Christmas-y and easy

  10. zannyro says:

    Number one! …I think I like it because the weeds on the left are not showing like they are in the second one…

  11. love the photos….thanks for sharing…I never get the time anymore and I appreciate photos so much more now… thanks!!!
    http://www.kodiakmylittlegrizzly.com

  12. krikitarts says:

    Really late here–not so unusual lately–but I’m with Jeff Sinon and the other off-center voters on this. For me it’s much more interesting and my eye is compelled to explore it more carefully and for a longer time. I would, however, straighten the image just a bit so the trees on the right are parallel to the right side of the frame (as they are in the centered shot). Good one, Ciindy!

    • Better late than never I always say :). I also prefer the off-centre shot, and I agree that it needs a wee bit of straightening. The way it is, I feel myself leaning to the right as I look at it LOL!! Thanks Gary.

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