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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 21 Nov 2017 (Tuesday) 17:35
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Rule of Odds

 
Numenorean
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Nov 22, 2017 11:59 |  #31

You can shoot an image with 2 subjects that looks off balance just as easily as with 3 subjects.


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AZGeorge
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Nov 22, 2017 12:28 |  #32

Archibald wrote in post #18501920 (external link)
These sound like cultism to me.

There is just no logical reason I can think of that particular numbers should have such significance in art.

I saw a web page some time ago that equivocated about the rule of thirds. They presented examples, and one of those examples suggested the photo would have been more effective at a bit less than a ratio of 3, say 2.8. Silliness.

Archibald wrote in post #18501920 (external link)
These sound like cultism to me.

There is just no logical reason I can think of that particular numbers should have such significance in art.

I saw a web page some time ago that equivocated about the rule of thirds. They presented examples, and one of those examples suggested the photo would have been more effective at a bit less than a ratio of 3, say 2.8. Silliness.

You might enjoy Barry O Carroll's piece on 20 composition rules/guidelines/techn​iques in PetaPixel. https://petapixel.com ...ques-will-improve-photos/ (external link)

You might also enjoy a look at Levina's photostream. Your gallery includes some technically fine images that (like all of ours and mine for sure) could be better. What guidelines apply to the images you like most? How might you use them in your own work. https://www.flickr.com​/photos/levina_de_ruij​ter/ (external link)


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DaviSto
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Nov 22, 2017 12:31 |  #33

Numenorean wrote in post #18501929 (external link)
You can shoot an image with 2 subjects that looks off balance just as easily as with 3 subjects.

But the implication of the 'rule of odds' is that three is naturally balanced, while two is not. I think two can be very well balanced in a single frame ... or one large can be juxtaposed with one small in a pleasing way. I don't get the idea of 'odd good', 'even bad'.


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Archibald
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Nov 22, 2017 12:43 |  #34

AZGeorge wrote in post #18501975 (external link)
You might enjoy Barry O Carroll's piece on 20 composition rules/guidelines/techn​iques in PetaPixel. https://petapixel.com ...ques-will-improve-photos/ (external link)

You might also enjoy a look at Levina's photostream. Your gallery includes some technically fine images that (like all of ours and mine for sure) could be better. What guidelines apply to the images you like most? How might you use them in your own work. https://www.flickr.com​/photos/levina_de_ruij​ter/ (external link)

No question there are useful guidelines, and that a lot can be learned from experience (including viewing the work of others, and being entertained by statements of rules).

One problem is that the word rule has different meanings, and that causes misunderstandings.


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Wilt
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Nov 22, 2017 14:39 as a reply to DaviSto's post |  #35

http://compositionstud​y.com/rule-of-odds/ (external link)

"Remember though that odd numbers really just refer to the number 3. Objects of 5 or more create more density than the viewer will perceive and the effect is null at that point. Larger numbers of objects, however can be divided visually into groupings of 3, thus bringing more cohesion to the composition."


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airfrogusmc
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Post has been last edited 23 days ago by airfrogusmc. 4 edits done in total.
Nov 22, 2017 15:52 |  #36

Levina de Ruijter wrote in post #18501898 (external link)
Allen, to say there are no rules to break is silly. And to say that you are "from the rules" or not is even sillier. The guiding principles of what is pleasing to the eye in a work of art have been in place for a very long time. They're not arbitrary rules or guidelines just invented for the hell of it. The Golden Mean e.g. is something that is visible in nature around us. Which might be why we find it pleasing to the eye when we see it in a work of art. The Rule of Thirds is a kind of simplification of it. And again, you can ignore these guiding principles or you can break them, that goes without saying. But anybody wanting to be an artist needs to know those principles. Somebody like Bresson e.g. knew them very well and used them in his photography, as I'm sure you know.

No, you don't understand. You don't learn the rules in order to break them. You learn them in order to follow them. Anybody who is serious about being an artist needs to know what came before him. He's not isolated, but part of a ongoing movement. It's like in that old saying: dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. So you learn and develop and then maybe, if you're any good, you might grow out of the need for the rules and develop your own rules, your own handwriting.

Yep and if you follow those guidelines your work will always look like all those others following the same guidelines. As Weston said in the first quote I posted (IIRC) "When subject matter is forced to fit into preconceived patterns, there can be no freshness of vision. Following rules of composition can only lead to a tedious repetition of pictorial cliches." - Edward Weston

What these great photographers are talking about is not following but finding your own way. But like everything on the world wide web the forum experts know a lot more than the real experts like a few of the ones I quoted above.

I think Duane Michals also really nailed it with his words.

So what you are saying is all of these great photographers like Adams, Brandt, Weston, Winogrand, etc are all wrong?

Minor White I believe said you should approach a photograph as a blank slate with no preconceived ideas. If you have a rule stuck in your head that is a preconceived idea.




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airfrogusmc
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Nov 22, 2017 16:04 |  #37

Wilt wrote in post #18502107 (external link)
http://compositionstud​y.com/rule-of-odds/ (external link)

"Remember though that odd numbers really just refer to the number 3. Objects of 5 or more create more density than the viewer will perceive and the effect is null at that point. Larger numbers of objects, however can be divided visually into groupings of 3, thus bringing more cohesion to the composition."


I guess then the real challenge is to make interesting photographs with even # objects in the frame.




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Pippan
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Nov 22, 2017 16:38 |  #38

I love the way these blog sites espousing the 'rules' selectively pick photos that appear to follow their rules. There must be millions of great photos that don’t. Especially those at the cutting edge. And sometimes even those they pick need a fair bit of imagination to see how they fit the ‘rule’. Never mind, just draw more lines over them. Something’s bound to line up.




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airfrogusmc
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Post has been edited 23 days ago by airfrogusmc.
Nov 22, 2017 16:48 |  #39

Pippan wrote in post #18502196 (external link)
I love the way these blog sites espousing the 'rules' selectively pick photos that appear to follow their rules. There must be millions of great photos that don’t. Especially those at the cutting edge. And sometimes even those they pick need a fair bit of imagination to see how they fit the ‘rule’. Never mind, just draw more lines over them. Something’s bound to line up.


Like playing records backwards to hear their the secret messages. If you want to hear satan is Paul you hear it. All I ever heard was backward words.

I think the greats all put their time into making photographs that look like their photographs.

I took me a decade or more to unlearn all the rules that actually hurt my vision. When I taught I would emphasize to my students to pay attention to the way they put their images together visually and try and match that with other techniques like processing film and printing to help them achieve a personal way of seeing. It takes years but if you don't start it wont happen and if you are following the herd it will probably never happen.




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Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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Nov 22, 2017 17:20 |  #40

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18502160 (external link)
Levina de Ruijter wrote in post #18501898 (external link)
No, you don't understand. You don't learn the rules in order to break them. You learn them in order to follow them. Anybody who is serious about being an artist needs to know what came before him. He's not isolated, but part of a ongoing movement. It's like in that old saying: dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. So you learn and develop and then maybe, if you're any good, you might grow out of the need for the rules and develop your own rules, your own handwriting.

Yep and if you follow those guidelines your work will always look like all those others following the same guidelines.

True. If a person is any good they will find their own way. It is a sine qua non for making authentic art. Anything else would be a copy, an imitation. But just as you need to learn how to write before you can develop your own handwriting, you need to learn the basic rules of art before you can move beyond them.


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Archibald
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Post has been edited 23 days ago by Archibald.
Nov 22, 2017 17:25 |  #41

Pippan wrote in post #18502196 (external link)
I love the way these blog sites espousing the 'rules' selectively pick photos that appear to follow their rules. There must be millions of great photos that don’t. Especially those at the cutting edge. And sometimes even those they pick need a fair bit of imagination to see how they fit the ‘rule’. Never mind, just draw more lines over them. Something’s bound to line up.

It's been proven that every work of art has SOMETHING at the thirds.

Even the Mona Lisa follows the rule of thirds - her eyes are at the top third. So they say. Just believe it. Because if you measure, you will learn the truth.


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airfrogusmc
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Nov 22, 2017 18:05 |  #42

Levina de Ruijter wrote in post #18502217 (external link)
True. If a person is any good they will find their own way. It is a sine qua non for making authentic art. Anything else would be a copy, an imitation. But just as you need to learn how to write before you can develop your own handwriting, you need to learn the basic rules of art before you can move beyond them.

Writing and visual creativity are two VERY different things. So again my question all of these great photographers are wrong?

Read Winogrand and Michals. I think they cover it pretty well.




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Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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Nov 22, 2017 20:43 |  #43

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18502247 (external link)
Writing and visual creativity are two VERY different things. So again my question all of these great photographers are wrong?

Read Winogrand and Michals. I think they cover it pretty well.

I don't know if writing and visual arts are so different, to be honest. Calligraphy is definitely a visual art. But I was obviously trying to make a point: before you can change the mould you have to master it.

As to the photographers you quoted. We've had this conversation before and you know what I think about you incessantly quoting others. You say everybody has to follow their own vision, make their own rules, so why don't you? Instead I see you being lead by the words and the rules of "these great photographers". Always quoting them as if their words are the Holy Scripture of photography. They're not. It's just another opinion. Winogrand et al don't have the patent on truth in photography. Also, what might work for them might not for you because you are a different person with a unique vision of the world. So why follow those photographers? Close the books, throw away their words and do your own thing. Besides, in my opinion the creative process defies explanation anyway and cannot be put into words. That's why so often when you read the words of an artist about his work (I've read mostly about painters) it's usually bullocks and makes little sense.


Levina
Please quote when responding to a post!!!
There is no such thing as ect. It's etc. (with period) from latin et cetera.
Colours are not complimentary but complementary.
My flickr (external link)

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airfrogusmc
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Post has been last edited 22 days ago by airfrogusmc. 5 edits done in total.
Nov 22, 2017 21:16 |  #44

Here's the flaw, as I see it, in your analogy. When writing you have certain technical rules (left brained) and those are not subjective. Nouns, verbs, sentences, paragraphs are the nuts and bolts. It is not unlike the technical (left brained) mechanics of photography. What I mean are the nuts and bolts like the inverse square law of light, aperture, iso (light sensitivity) shutter speed, law of reciprocity, etc. I feel every photographer should know these things. Those things are not suggestive. Everything creative is subjective. It's also that way in writing. Those are things that are not bound by rules. Those are the things that should be bound by personal expression and individuality or how one sees the world. And as stated by the words of masters those things are not about rules.

Though writing and photography are both right brained or creative endeavors they are still apples and oranges. Just as painting and photographer are. Both are creative and visual but and very different art forms.

As far as masters go their credibility is certainly higher than those that are not. I know whose opinions I value. The words of Weston, Newman and Adams have and should have far more weight than monkey boy on a forum. Like Einstein or Hawking should have more weight than some physics geek on a physics forum

If you want to make photographs that look like everyone else as Weston pointed out just follow the same rules. As one can see by all the look a like images all over forums and the world wide web.

The national geographic, PPofA aesthetic is everywhere. The one good photograph mentality is king and that is not what great photography is about. All the greats work in bodies of work which is not really discussed a lot in forum land. One good photograph no more makes a great photographer as one great at bat will put a baseball player in the hall of fame.

I say to everyone that wants to grow as a creative photographer let go all of those rules and try and find a way to express the way you feel about the world in a way that is unique to your way of seeing. Use the frame, even the edges. Make sure it all counts and everything is supporting what you are trying to visual say. And capitalize on things that you constantly see in your work and things that make it unique and not silly rules though once those things are implanted it can be difficult to unlearn them.




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Dan ­ Marchant
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Nov 23, 2017 00:44 |  #45

I think the biggest mistake was using the word "rules" because lots of people are afraid of being told what to do. They are just techniques for achieving a certain effect or evoking a feeling and they work because they are a result of human evolution - someone didn't wake up one day and say "henceforth the subject must be placed on a third". Human's evolved certain methods of interpreting what we see as a means of survival. Being able to interpret scale tells me that the lion is closer to me than the tree and I should run. Red is a colour that evokes a feeling of excitement danger because nature taught us that many red things are hot/dangerous and on and on we go.

I've had endless discussions with people who swear there are no rules, they don't know these rules and therefore they don't exist.... and yet when you look at their photos there are these techniques because the photographer too is human and they use these evolutionary tricks to interpret their surrounding just like most other people.

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18501767 (external link)
If you want your photographs to look like everyone else's then everyone should use the same rules and shoot the same thing. If you want to take your work to the next level make photographs that look like your photographs. Make your own rules. Compose the way your see without the constraints of all these rules......

A great photographer once told me either everything in the frame is supporting your visual statement and if those elements aren't helping it, then those elements are hurting it.

You just ended your anti-rules post by quoting one of the major rules of composition; probably the most important one, to which all others are just servants.

Great photos are great because they contain elements that are aesthetically, intellectually and/or emotionally interesting. The more you fill the frame with these things (versus boring stuff that doesn't support your vision for the image) the better the image will be. (Note: I'm not saying you can't have empty space. That can often be a, i and e interesting). All these various techniques are simply methods of filling the frame with more of the a, i and e that you are attempting to capture.

As for breaking the rules, I have yet to find anyone who could explain how a particular photo breaks a particular compositional technique. The technique of thirds (for example) is simply that placing a subject on/near a third makes an image less static/more dynamic/can imply movement. Not putting your subject on a third doesn't break anything... it just doesn't use that technique. You can still have an image that is dynamic/implies movement because there are plenty of other techniques that will achieve the same result.

Conclusion
As is often the case in such discussions both sides are wrong. Human's interpret the world around them visually (and in other ways). An artist who understands how people interpret visually will be better able to communicate visually. Just because you don't know or understand a technique doesn't mean it doesn't work (or that you aren't unconsciously using it). Likewise just because you understand an use these techniques it doesn't mean that they are absolutes that will always work to the same degree on everyone. They work well on some, to a lesser degree on many and not at all on others.


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