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Composition in photography

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Old 05-22-2008, 09:27 PM
Janet Petty's Avatar
Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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Composition in photography

I've been helping teach beginners the basics of photography; and I also recently took some classes to improve my skills. I'm well aware of the "rules" of composition and such and the fact that once learned and practiced just beg to be broken or at least bent.

What I'd like to begin a discussion about is composition. What makes us all want to take that little focus point in the center of the screen and leave our subject smack dab in the middle? What about photo real estate, negative space, leading lines, telling a story, etc., etc.? What about interest, the decisive moment, telling a story, color, contrast, and on and on?

One of the reasons I ask is that even after drilling composition into students for a full semester, the majority of their portfolios at the end of the semester ignored composition. Bull's-eye vision was the predominant theme.

The second reason I ask is that it makes a good discussion. Come on all you artists and photographers out there. Let's rock and roll.

Janet
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File Type: jpg golden-mean.jpg (42.7 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg rule-of-thirds.jpg (63.0 KB, 44 views)

Last edited by Janet Petty; 05-23-2008 at 07:55 AM. Reason: lost original text
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Old 05-23-2008, 09:14 AM
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Re: Composition in photography

Great topic of discussion, Janet.

I'm a firm believer in white space and am a devout minimalist. I think I took this attitude when I started designing business cards. With these cards you have a finite amount of space to work with (2.5 x 3 inches) and specific information that must be included. They are NOT the place to list all your products and services. I studied the Carlson Craft business card catalog which was full of excellent examples of design and layout. They are more of a challenge these days when, in addition to basic logo, name, address and phone information, folks now want to include email address, web URL, cell phone numbers etc. The principals of composition for business cards has carried over into my other creative endeavors as well as my approach to photography.

It might be a good study for your students.
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Old 05-23-2008, 09:22 AM
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Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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Re: Composition in photography

Good points Swampy. I agree wholeheartedly with the minimalist approach and often find that the negative space in a photo lends itself to compositing, text, and so forth.

Janet
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Old 05-23-2008, 09:48 AM
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Re: Composition in photography

This is going to be a real interesting topic
When taking photo's i fall into the get it in to the centre brigade ! I dont know why, maybe because it is easy or i dont have the "eye" to see anything different I do try but back into the centre it ends up

but i like the opposite and on a few photo art projects i have tried to get some subjects off centre

Here is a link to one image that i really like for the quirkyness ( i mean the compostion not the technique although i like that as well)

http://www.pbase.com/sianp/image/95095733

and here is a link to the same persons flower gallery that inspired me to try the same (bet you cant guess where all my flowers ended up, yep you got it in the middle )

http://www.pbase.com/sianp/flowers_on_white

Palms
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Old 05-23-2008, 11:00 AM
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Re: Composition in photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by palms1 View Post
This is going to be a real interesting topic
Oh, I do hope so.

The links you posted have some great photography. What, may I ask, leads you to define the portrait of the little girl as quirky? Details please.

Also, don't you think that what is garbage to one viewer may be someone else's Awww moment?

Janet
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:02 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet Petty View Post
Oh, I do hope so.

The links you posted have some great photography. What, may I ask, leads you to define the portrait of the little girl as quirky? Details please.

Also, don't you think that what is garbage to one viewer may be someone else's Awww moment?

Janet
Ok what i perceive as being quirky is that the image doesn't contain the whole of the child's head, and that there is approximately 2/3 of just white space, plus the face looks big for the size of the image (not to sure how to explain that bit )

Now i don't know whether Sian took the photo like this or if she manipulated it, but i do know that had it been me the child would of been central with probably the cross hair on the nose ! ! ! !

Also my definition of quirky is something different be it a lot or just a bit from the norm


Phew Janet good job this is about photo's because i hated having to explain things at school in English comprehension



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

Palms

Last edited by palms; 05-23-2008 at 01:05 PM. Reason: forgot a bit
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:16 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Agreed Palms. It is a bit "out of the norm" as far as traditional portraits are concerned. But the elements of good composition are there.

I'm not too good putting words into my mouth either. So I'm with you there.

Janet
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:29 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Excellent subject for discussion indeed Janet. It's most certainly a subject that applies to retouching as well as photography itself.

Rather than jump in with my personal take on the subject, here's an excellent overview to help get the ball rolling: Guidelines for Better Photographic Composition
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Old 05-23-2008, 03:30 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Lonk that is a excellent link, I have gone through it once for now and bookmarked it to go back too
I found it to be well put together and put in a way that is easy to understand.

In fact i pinpointed a problem of mine ( when taking photographs) quite early on where it stated that a "well composed picture needs careful planning and patience" on the whole i dont plan and i have limited patience




Now Janet would i be right to say that in the photo of the little girl that she fits into the rule of thirds and hence why i find it to be pleasing ?

I knew this would be interesting (as well as educational for me anyway )


Palms
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Old 05-23-2008, 04:18 PM
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Re: Composition in photography

Lonnie, that is a superb slideshow. Thank you for sharing it.

Janet
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