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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 04 Apr 2012 (Wednesday) 08:26
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Composition and all that Arty stuff - discussion thread.

 
Tom ­ Reichner
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Jul 28, 2017 10:46 as a reply to post 18413296 |  #3811

Perhaps I am not thinking of rules in the way that Allen and some others think of them. . I think of "rules" as helpful tools, not as criteria that need to be conformed to. . I think the term "rule" is a misnomer, and if anyone thinks of a photography "rule" as something they are supposed to be doing, then they are greatly handicapping themselves.

Many of the "rules" can be freeing and enlightening.

The way I see it is like this:

When I view a scene before me, that I want to photograph, I have a certain vision in my mind's eye as to how I want the scene to look in my photographs. . Often, I have difficulty figuring out how to get my photos to look the way the scene in my mind's eye looks. . The "creative vision", or whatever you want to call it, is there. . But I often have trouble getting this vision onto my sensor. . But, if I learn a few rules, then sometimes those rules can be used to help me bridge the gap between the real-life scene and the image that is in my mind's eye.

The rules don't have an affect on what my vision is.......rather, they help me to accomplish the vision that I already had before I even considered them. . And no, none of the "rules" are so deeply ingrained that I consider them sub-consciously. . The "rules" are nothing more than helpful tricks that help me tackle the technical obstacles that often stand between my vision and reality.

I think that when people call the things "rules", that is the problem. . The way I see it, the "rules" that folks speak of are actually "tools". . And tools can help me create because they help me get what is in my mind onto the medium.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
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airfrogusmc
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Post has been edited 3 months ago by airfrogusmc.
Jul 28, 2017 10:57 |  #3812

Tom if they seep into your subconscious which they will if you follow them enough then one becomes unaware of it happening. Like driving your car or anything else that is repetitive and may works a lot on a subconscious level. I know when I am drive I am not thinking about rules but I did when I first started driving. Now they are just second nature. I found that I had learned to many useless rules when it came to my photography years ago and worked hard at trying to get all of that our of my head when I worked. When I was teaching I used to always tell my students to forget all of the rules someone told you make good photographs that have soul. Try and make photographs that have a piece of each of you the individual photographer in them. There is really nothing special about anything that looks like everything else but if you are creating things that are NOT like everything else, that is special and someone will notice. Maybe not the masses but that is a place no one that is truly creative should be striving to be part of in my opinion.




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sjones
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Jul 28, 2017 12:30 |  #3813

In fairness, most artists operate with sources of inspiration, and very few, if any, can claim to be free of any derivative influence.

Of course, there are some that try to blatantly emulate others, especially if there is a commercial incentive. That is, in pop music, for example, if you want to make millions, you’ll have a better chance of doing so by mirroring Taylor Swift than by mirroring the late GG Allin.

What is particularly difficult is to seek originality without the work appearing pretentious or forced, an issue that presents a significant challenge to most anyone. Efforts to avoid the formulaic are admirable, but doing so just for the sake of such avoidance can lead to its own set of problems. And with photography specifically, we’re dealing in a medium that spits out millions of photos every day. In some ways, everything is a cliché, everything.

When I read basic photography tips articles that suggest trying ‘new angles’, well certainly this is sage advice for the beginner, but in reality, these ‘new angles’ are used almost as frequently as standard perspectives.

As for compositional rules, anyone who studies the arts is going to encounter them, and for beginners, they can be useful towards understanding visual design…the fundamental study of aesthetics and all.

And for someone who just takes snapshots for family memories, these rules might not facilitate creativity, but they can at least provide some compositional improvement over previous efforts.

This said, abiding by the rules can, as airfrogusmc rightfully warns, discourage the very creative and effective compositional goal that these rules are designed to benefit; a paradox of sorts arises.

Moreover, once embedded, they can be difficult to excise, and again, as airfrogusmc noted, it can take years to break away and develop greater freedom of approach. Of course, this freedom is extremely difficult to attain, because never mind the rules, there’s the “what will they think” and other external concerns nagging the decision making process (and to note, I’m not even referring to working for a client who has specific demands; that’s a whole separate matter).

We’re social beings, even introverts like me, and functioning without any regard for external judgment or expectation is not easy for most folks.

And to be sure, if a scene can best be aesthetically served by applying the rule of thirds, even if subconsciously, that’s fine…there’s infinite points of placement, and some of the most applicable points are invariably going to fit snuggly into an existing rule, whether intentional or not.

The point, of course, is allowing personal vision, rather than externally embedded dictums, to determine where to aim the lens. So while I don’t oppose the teaching of compositional rules—-art students are going to cover them whether they like it or not—-it must be stressed at the exact same time, not later on, the limits and even detriments of following such rules, let alone the ramifications of blindly submitting to them.


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sjones
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Jul 28, 2017 16:17 |  #3814

Just want to elaborate on my “everything is a cliché” comment in the previous post, as it needs further explanation.

That is, there are numerous obstacles already facing photographers seeking to truly improve and perhaps develop a signature style.

Yet, once in a while, on these photography sites, the ‘clichés you hate” thread makes its gracious appearance. And of course, everyone’s entitled to their opinions, and I’m not without my own critical preferences and such.

But I can only imagine a newcomer reading one of these threads only to walk away hesitant to point their camera at anything. And this is unfortunate, because, with an average of roughly three billion photos taken daily worldwide, overlap is inevitably going to occur.

Over on the RangeFinderForum site, an older thread recently resurfaced, where the topic is umbrellas. Now, to me, the umbrella is as much a conventional photographic trope as park benches, sunsets, and flowers are.

Yet, most of the photos posted are very good to excellent, and of course, great photos of park benches, flowers, and sunsets are still produced as well---as are cloyingly bad ones. It also helps that I personally enjoy umbrellas in photos, God bless subjectivity.

My point is that while we seek our own style, we shouldn’t let this seemingly overwhelming effort derail us from what we just like, because what we like underpins the integrity of our work and inspires our vision. Yet, so many things detract us from this deceptively simple approach. And I’m speaking to myself on this one if no one else.

After all, isn’t “avoiding clichés” a rule itself; and what have we said about rules. It’s all in the application and the vision.

But again, more than three billion photos taken daily. And never mind the current output; just study photography from the mid-19th century to the start of WWII. I am constantly discovering photographs that repeatedly prove that a dauntingly impressive amount of creativity and originality was already achieved before the advent of war.

Didn’t realize that was done before, let alone seventy damn years ago!

Ultimately, exceptional photography is, by nature, exceptional; that is, it’s rare by inherent design. Not everyone is going to be a Michael Jordan, a Rembrandt, a Miles Davis, or a Shakespeare. The Ansel Adams, the Robert Franks, the Henri-Cartier Bressons, the Alex Webbs, the insert-your-favorite-heres; their unique and influential stature (whether you like their work or not) is seldom replicated.

So while a passionate desire might exists to improve and to be unique among the three billion photos taken just today, this should not inadvertently undercut the freedom required to produce truly personal work, even if that work is, by appearance, somewhat derivative and frequently filled with umbrellas. Your genuine visceral decision is yours; it’s unique in that sense, and it can’t be taken away.


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It's the Photographer (external link) | God Loves Photoshop (external link)

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airfrogusmc
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Joined May 2007
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Post has been last edited 3 months ago by airfrogusmc. 2 edits done in total.
Aug 05, 2017 13:42 |  #3815

Mostly agree sjones.

The one thing that many on forums miss (because many are chasing the one good photograph) is that all of those mentioned worked in bodies of work with relating images. That in itself will help develop a way one puts their images together (composition). A consistent way to expose in order to process in a consistent way that matches the composition and visual tone of the work. This help create sequences of images that flow together. All of this is what helps develop a personal way of seeing and an over all style.




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sjones
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Aug 06, 2017 13:52 |  #3816

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18419952 (external link)
Mostly agree sjones.

The one thing that many on forums miss (because many are chasing the one good photograph) is that all of those mentioned worked in bodies of work with relating images. That in itself will help develop a way one puts their images together (composition). A consistent way to expose in order to process in a consistent way that matches the composition and visual tone of the work. This help create sequences of images that flow together. All of this is what helps develop a personal way of seeing and an over all style.

Absolutely agree that a photographer’s work serves to best identify the photographer’s style as well as prove a consistent level of quality. This is particularly important in photography, because it’s a bit of a freakish medium whereby a monkey can literally snap a very good photo; and I’m not talking abstract either. Skill is demonstrated through accumulation.

This is one reason why I love photography books and monographs. Perhaps not always the case, but one could argue that judging a photographer by just one or two photos is like judging a book by just one or two pages.

And then there are cases in which a collection serves not just to showcase a number of photographs, but also through the design and layout itself, create a loose narrative, with photos reinforcing other photos within the work. The classic example of this is Frank’s “The Americans,” upon which each photo and their order of placement in the book were carefully and deliberately selected for poetic intent.

Some will argue that a photograph isn’t good unless it can stand on its own, meaning no text, no explanation. But of course, this is an inaccurate or incomplete contention, as even a simple frame and the color of matting can enhance or undermine the visual appeal of a photograph. But on higher levels, such as the case with “The Americans,” or Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment,” the photos compellingly interact in such a way whereby the sum effect is arguably greater than the parts, or at least, some of the parts (as there are some exceptional standout photos in these books).

Still, the ability to compile such quality work is, unsurprisingly, more rare than common, as is true with about every other pursuit known to humankind. Exceptionalism, by definition, is for the few. And I think this is where promoting creativity and uniqueness amid a daily wall of billions of photos taken needs to be weighed against the potential consequences of inadvertently fueling discouragement or distractive focus.

It’s a difficult balance where the message for self-improvement simultaneously demands originality and personal motivation, two separate efforts that are not always going to be congruent. And derivation is largely unavoidable at this stage in photography, with the formulaic expanding its tentacles with every billion photos taken.

Of course, this is not an argument to surrender by any means, particularly as there will always be room to rise unrestrained. But arguably the main approach, with which I think you also agree, is for the photographer to photograph what inspires them. And then, review and scrutinize these photos; learn what visual elements bolster or undercut the photos' effectiveness. Constantly seek self-improvement, and, as part of this effort, engage in the overall arts, not just photography. Through this, let the signature style and originality manifest organically rather than through forced calculation.


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It's the Photographer (external link) | God Loves Photoshop (external link)

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airfrogusmc
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Aug 06, 2017 14:18 |  #3817

Agree. I always say that a strong body of work is like a picture puzzle with each piece important but supporting the more important large whole.




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Tom ­ Reichner
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Sep 09, 2017 10:59 |  #3818

sjones wrote in post #18420658 (external link)
. . . there will always be room to rise unrestrained. But arguably the main approach, with which I think you also agree, is for the photographer to photograph what inspires them. And then, review and scrutinize these photos; learn what visual elements bolster or undercut the photos' effectiveness. Constantly seek self-improvement, and, as part of this effort, engage in the overall arts, not just photography. Through this, let the signature style and originality manifest organically rather than through forced calculation.

Perfectly stated, Steve.

I think that they way you said this, it applies not just to photography, but to the other visual arts, as well.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "peace of mind", NOT "piece of mind".

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Owain ­ Shaw
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Oct 27, 2017 05:35 |  #3819

Bumping a dead thread because I believe in recycling and we can probably have the discussion here ...

Printing strategies ... I have so many digital pictures and so few useful prints. Lots of small prints doesn't solve the problem, they sit in a drawer instead of (as well as) on the hard drive. I don't have a lot of wall space for big prints ... and I'm not one for printing only one of my photographs, I see myself as having a larger body of work than one prized photograph. I think I need to do more periodic editing and printing of work as I go. At this stage it's all a bit much.

I've started shooting film again as an immediate remedy, although I am reliant on labs and it's a bit pricey these days, it's a little treat and photography is my hobby/interest/"thing" so why not? But the same needs to apply to printing my digital work which I will probably eventually go back to. I don't know what to do with regards to the past few years of work for which I have little physical record.

So, in effect, I'm wondering what different people's printing strategies are. How do you stay on top of it? How and when do you decide what to print? What do you then do with it? Anything related to printing work on an ongoing basis, rather than a one off print.


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airfrogusmc
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Oct 27, 2017 08:53 |  #3820

Owain Shaw wrote in post #18482115 (external link)
Bumping a dead thread because I believe in recycling and we can probably have the discussion here ...

Printing strategies ... I have so many digital pictures and so few useful prints. Lots of small prints doesn't solve the problem, they sit in a drawer instead of (as well as) on the hard drive. I don't have a lot of wall space for big prints ... and I'm not one for printing only one of my photographs, I see myself as having a larger body of work than one prized photograph. I think I need to do more periodic editing and printing of work as I go. At this stage it's all a bit much.

I've started shooting film again as an immediate remedy, although I am reliant on labs and it's a bit pricey these days, it's a little treat and photography is my hobby/interest/"thing" so why not? But the same needs to apply to printing my digital work which I will probably eventually go back to. I don't know what to do with regards to the past few years of work for which I have little physical record.

So, in effect, I'm wondering what different people's printing strategies are. How do you stay on top of it? How and when do you decide what to print? What do you then do with it? Anything related to printing work on an ongoing basis, rather than a one off print.


When I had a darkroom I would make contact sheets then select images I wanted to print from those. Make a test print and adjust from there. I have an Epson 2880 and I print as I go only I look at the actual Tiffs I will be printing from on the screen. Still make a test print and adjust from there. In my opinion a photograph isn't finished until it is a pint.




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Owain ­ Shaw
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Oct 27, 2017 09:29 |  #3821

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18482182 (external link)
When I had a darkroom I would make contact sheets then select images I wanted to print from those. Make a test print and adjust from there. I have an Epson 2880 and I print as I go only I look at the actual Tiffs I will be printing from on the screen. Still make a test print and adjust from there. In my opinion a photograph isn't finished until it is a pint.

With your digital work, though, how do you decide which images to print, and when do you make these decisions? Do you need a period of reflection before printing or do you print soon after shooting?


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airfrogusmc
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Oct 27, 2017 14:27 as a reply to Owain Shaw's post |  #3822

I usually will print what catches me at the moment and then tack up a work print in my office and look at them for a while and see how they fit in with what I think is my vision. I will leave them up until I get tired of looking at them and the ones that I feel fit with the way I have come to know looks like my work and the ones that i don't tire of I will make final prints of.




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chauncey
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Oct 27, 2017 16:55 |  #3823

I would have a difficult time arguing with that.


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OhLook
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Oct 29, 2017 16:39 |  #3824

Soliciting opinions on whether a compositional choice about space subliminally enhances a message. The papers on the wall are eviction notices and flyers about sources of help for homeless people formerly camping there, under an urban freeway. Camera's native ratio is 4:3. In cropping to 5:4, I chose to make the right-hand stretch of concrete much narrower than the left-hand one, as a physical correlate of the shrinkage of options for people who shelter in such places as they get thrown out of one area after another. The position I shot from, left of center rather than straight on, I hope has a similar effect, because the tonal bands on the wall diminish toward the right.

Now, does this sort of thing work? At least, did it work in this image? Do the shapes and sizes convey deprivation and desperation better than if I'd stood squarely in front of the papers and made a symmetrical picture?

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airfrogusmc
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Oct 29, 2017 21:17 |  #3825

I think the rectangles are all working well together. I like the fact it isn't shot straight on because there is a sense tension. I think it needs to be really large and maybe large as to be able to read the notes and might work really well in a project about the homeless.




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