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Composition in photography

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  #11  
Old 05-24-2008, 01:23 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

I noticed you attached a couple of graphs to your first post Janet, but didn't address their relativity. I assume you intended to talk about the "Rule of Thirds". To follow, here's a brief article I wrote some time ago on the subject. I know it's very basic, but even for accomplished photographers (and retouchers), it never hurts to review.
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  #12  
Old 05-24-2008, 01:32 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Janet, you've chosen a great subject for discussion!

I've shot photographs ever since I was a little kid, but never took a real art class or photography class until after I retired. I knew that some photos and paintings appealed to me more than others, but I did not know WHY, and I did not know how to improve my own photos. We need to learn a language to help us talk about why some images appeal more to us than others, and that's where the rules of composition help. These rules have been used for thousands of years in drawing and painting, and rely quite possibly on instinctive reactions within us humans - most people DO know that they prefer one painting or photo to another - but have a hard time trying to explain in words what makes them FEEL that difference. Learning the language of composition helps us understand why we love the look of one image and don't care as much for another -- even if the basic subject is the same.

Lon - that slideshow is an excellent resource for folks who would like to brush up on their basics of good composition. One especially helpful tip from the site recommends "You can help yourself develop an artistic eye by studying pictures to find the strength of their lines, geometric shapes, and balance." First, we need to be taught what to look for, and the language to use to describe what we see, and then we need to practice seeing those rules in action.

I think many of us (non-pro photographers) started out shooting pictures of family, pets, and favorite places. We weren't focusing with our eyes, but with our hearts. That's part of the reason that we didn't notice the cluttered background, the telephone pole sticking out of someone's head, etc. -- we were only seeing someone or something we loved. When we got the prints back, we were disappointed by the photo a bit, but still loved it because it was a piece of a loved one. If we can learn to SEE the background, mid-ground, foreground, the compositional rules and how they might apply to this particular situation, and also FOCUS on how to enhance our loved person, pet, or favorite place using a bit of thinking, careful looking, and just a minute or so of extra time, we can end up having a treasured photo that reminds us of our loved one AND an image that anyone would look at and enjoy.

I still make mistakes and find electrical lines or a satellite antenna sticking up in the background that even my bad eyesight should have noticed, but I'm getting better about thinking about vertical vs horizontal, leaving room in front of a moving subject, placement somewhere OTHER than the middle bulls-eye section of the frame, etc. Some things come naturally now, and others I still have to take time to think about.
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  #13  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:42 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Swartz View Post
I think many of us (non-pro photographers) started out shooting pictures of family, pets, and favorite places. We weren't focusing with our eyes, but with our hearts. That's part of the reason that we didn't notice the cluttered background, the telephone pole sticking out of someone's head, etc. -- we were only seeing someone or something we loved. When we got the prints back, we were disappointed by the photo a bit, but still loved it because it was a piece of a loved one. If we can learn to SEE the background, mid-ground, foreground, the compositional rules and how they might apply to this particular situation, and also FOCUS on how to enhance our loved person, pet, or favorite place using a bit of thinking, careful looking, and just a minute or so of extra time, we can end up having a treasured photo that reminds us of our loved one AND an image that anyone would look at and enjoy.

I still make mistakes and find electrical lines or a satellite antenna sticking up in the background that even my bad eyesight should have noticed, but I'm getting better about thinking about vertical vs horizontal, leaving room in front of a moving subject, placement somewhere OTHER than the middle bulls-eye section of the frame, etc. Some things come naturally now, and others I still have to take time to think about.
Lonnie, you have a simple, straightforward, clear, and concise article. I might ask to copy that in the future. It certainly says it all better than all the drawing on the dry erase board and picture critiques we did.

CJ, you said it all. I often told the students that we can take pictures of all the beauty and nature there is but what really endures are the keepsake pictures that bring us treasured memories; and if they could learn the basic rules of composition and use them on who was important to them, then they would have learned a lot.

Bad eyesight? You said it. If it wasn't for auto focus, I would be up the creek without the proverbial paddle. I just have to remember to focus, lock, and recompose (again with the composition).

Janet
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  #14  
Old 05-25-2008, 07:48 AM
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Re: Composition in photography

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Originally Posted by palms1 View Post

And yes i agree what is appealing to one person isn't to another, but that argument is for another topic i think

Palms
I agree too, but it seems with almost anything, someone gets in with the comment. "This is so overdone, etc", I like to look at and try everything. . . . and if I like it, I like it and if I don't, I just move on with no comment!
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  #15  
Old 05-25-2008, 10:38 AM
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Re: Composition in photography

Here is an exercise for you all: a panoramic that I shot a couple of weeks ago.

I'm curious to see how each of you would crop this image.
And please explain why you elected to do it the way you did it.

Later I'll post my version.
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  #16  
Old 05-25-2008, 12:09 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Great pano, Frank!

I cropped to the fountain since it is a point of interest in the overall image. I used the golden rule to find the sweet spot, but adjusted the actual crop a little large to get a little more sky.
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  #17  
Old 05-25-2008, 01:27 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Well done Swampy!

OK Frank. I'll play. Of course there are several ways to effectively crop this. As a pano scenic, there is no presumptive central subject other than the scene itself.

For my first composition, I choose an active portrait crop featuring the tall, stark, darker trees. The shoreline forms a dynamic "S" curve providing a path for the eye to follow through the scene. By including a bit of land in the foreground, the feeling of depth is increased. Depth is further supported through the symmetrical reflections of the trees in the water. The dark trees on the left balance the warm colorful trees on the right.

The second landscape composition utilizes the Rule of Thirds. The tall trees balance the floral tree in the foreground. Diagonal leading lines along the grass (and clouds), and the warmer central colors draw the viewer into the scene. The reflections and curved shoreline further support this more passive composition.

In both, I took the liberty of including some wispy clouds to give the stark sky a bit more character and kicked up the saturation some.
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  #18  
Old 05-25-2008, 01:46 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Well, done, Lonnie. Especially like the second one.
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  #19  
Old 05-25-2008, 02:28 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

I found this a hard challenge as there seems to be quite a few crops that could happen plus i made the mistake of looking at the other posts first
but i chose this crop as

1. the fountain i think loosely fits into the rule of thirds
2. the buggys have room to move
3. the bank has a curve to it as does the road and the hill

but i am not sure about the lines as the hill line seems to be across the middle

well how did this novice at composition do?

Palms
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  #20  
Old 05-25-2008, 03:16 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Great Shoot/Shot Frank .. Thanks for the exercise

I see at least 8 excellent individual pictures (crops) here depending upon what you want to emphasize.

I presumed you wanted a Pano..

I looked at all the points of interest and flow of the crop ..
I straightened a bit then cropped as my old eyes told me to for a Pano..

The Pano worked for me so here tis
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