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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.

 
OhLook
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Jun 14, 2014 10:46 |  #3391

Lowner wrote in post #16971073 (external link)
That's the crux of the problem. We all know when we see something we love, but to try and explain it as a concept in the absence of a particular shot is something I would find impossible.

That's where becoming more analytical helps. I think practice in contemplating many images and identifying their merits and faults will cultivate this ability. But it's easier to see what's wrong than what's right. The things that are wrong stick out perceptually.


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Jun 23, 2014 16:01 |  #3392

The woman petting the cat probably thought I was just taking a picture of a cat. Instead, I was practicing finding compositions in ordinary scenes, including those that include something that moves.


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Jun 26, 2014 19:36 |  #3393

OhLook wrote in post #16990087 (external link)
The woman petting the cat probably thought I was just taking a picture of a cat. Instead, I was practicing finding compositions in ordinary scenes, including those that include something that moves.

Can you explain what you see in the composition?

What were you going for?


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Jun 26, 2014 20:05 |  #3394

DocFrankenstein wrote in post #16996602 (external link)
Can you explain what you see in the composition?

What were you going for?

What I was going for, I said just above the image. What I see is a combination of several linear elements, some straight, some curved. The arm and the tail start an arc at approx. top center, and the rest of the cat continues this arc down to about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Then the cat's shadow continues this curve until, at the lower margin, it meets a straight line in the sidewalk. This line projects from the woman's knee and has the same direction as her thigh. All these things make a visual connection between the human and the animal, and including the sidewalk, that takes the shape of a bow (as in archery)--that is, a closed figure. The shadow of the arm supplies one more connection.

Other lines and dark areas are involved in minor ways. Not every seam in the sidewalk is optimally placed. Unfortunately, a sidewalk is a sidewalk, and you get whatever's there.

One feature that I've learned I like in this shot and others is that the color is mostly confined to a small area.

When an image is up for days without getting comments, I figure people found it either boring or bad.

A takeaway lesson for me: although strong sunlight is usually a bummer, it can be used to advantage if you want to emphasize shadows as visual elements.


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Jun 26, 2014 20:13 |  #3395

I only had a few moments to grab this shot, waiting as long as I could for the plane to reach darker cloud but just before he climbed out of the dive. so the framing was more instinctive than carefully planned. (This has not been cropped, SOOC except for just a touch of contrast added.)


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Jun 26, 2014 23:58 |  #3396

OhLook wrote in post #16996648 (external link)
What I was going for, I said just above the image. What I see is a combination of several linear elements, some straight, some curved. The arm and the tail start an arc at approx. top center, and the rest of the cat continues this arc down to about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Then the cat's shadow continues this curve until, at the lower margin, it meets a straight line in the sidewalk. This line projects from the woman's knee and has the same direction as her thigh. All these things make a visual connection between the human and the animal, and including the sidewalk, that takes the shape of a bow (as in archery)--that is, a closed figure. The shadow of the arm supplies one more connection. .

But what's the importance of elements of design you're describing and how are they contributing to the image?


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Jun 27, 2014 00:38 |  #3397

DocFrankenstein wrote in post #16996959 (external link)
But what's the importance of elements of design you're describing and how are they contributing to the image?

My description was an answer to your request to describe what I see in the composition. I don't know what to say about their importance. Importance would have to be judged with reference to some standard. This image isn't going to alter world affairs in any way. What kinds of importance can lines and curves have? Are there circumstances in which one says that this shape (the speaker pointing to something) is important and another shape is trivial?

I think the structural features I identified encourage seeing the woman and cat as a harmonious unit. Clearly, they're separate beings, but the formal elements connect them by making them part of a pattern created by lines that fall close together at the top, diverge in the middle, and join at the bottom. The shadow of the arm is a blatant connector, a thick, almost straight line, as if someone had taken a Sharpie and drawn a bar between the two creatures to emphasize that they have something to do with each other. When I imagine the photo with that shadow removed, it becomes less meaningful.

But perhaps no one else sees these relationships. I posted in hopes of finding out what others think about the image. Is it all in my head?


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Clean ­ Gene
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Jun 27, 2014 00:40 |  #3398

OhLook wrote in post #16996648 (external link)
What I was going for, I said just above the image. What I see is a combination of several linear elements, some straight, some curved. The arm and the tail start an arc at approx. top center, and the rest of the cat continues this arc down to about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Then the cat's shadow continues this curve until, at the lower margin, it meets a straight line in the sidewalk. This line projects from the woman's knee and has the same direction as her thigh. All these things make a visual connection between the human and the animal, and including the sidewalk, that takes the shape of a bow (as in archery)--that is, a closed figure. The shadow of the arm supplies one more connection.

Other lines and dark areas are involved in minor ways. Not every seam in the sidewalk is optimally placed. Unfortunately, a sidewalk is a sidewalk, and you get whatever's there.

One feature that I've learned I like in this shot and others is that the color is mostly confined to a small area.

When an image is up for days without getting comments, I figure people found it either boring or bad.

A takeaway lesson for me: although strong sunlight is usually a bummer, it can be used to advantage if you want to emphasize shadows as visual elements.


Okay, I see what you're saying, and it's really cool that you notice that kind of stuff.

It's just that for me personally (I'm not saying that it's objectively true or that it's right or wrong), I feel that the image is too "busy" for me to pick up on that without having it explained to me.

I do see the design elements that you're talking about, but in my opinion they just aren't as prominent as the other stuff that's going on. Even if those design elements are there, it doesn't seem to be what the image is "about". To me, the image seems to be "about" a dude petting a cat in harsh midday light, and from that standard it just feels like a snapshot. Granted, I might see the other design elements upon closer inspection, but they seem to be playing second fiddle to the obvious. Without that initial "pop", that first grabbing of the eye, I just feel like it's gonna be hard to get most people to examine the image long enough for them to see what you are seeing in it.

Just a suggestion for you. I'm not telling you to do this and I'm not saying that it's right, because that would just be specualating. But if your images are "about" pure elements of design, if that's the primary appeal to the images, then it might be worth trying to go simple and more abstract. Maybe photograph things in which the design elements that you are draawn to are the actual thing giving the image its initial impact rather than just a kind of "easter egg" that you get rewarded with if you spend enough time with it. There's nothing wrong with putting in hidden stuff, things that you don't see without further investigation. But the problem is that it's hard to get people to look beyond the surface level without first providing an obvious reason for further examination. If what the image is "about" is lying below the surface level, then the surface level should maybe do a good job of making the viewer immediately want to look deeper. And I'm not getting that here, I just don't see that initial hook that makes me want to spend more time with the image.




  
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Jun 27, 2014 02:05 |  #3399

Clean Gene wrote in post #16996997 (external link)
To me, the image seems to be "about" a dude petting a cat in harsh midday light

The petter was female. The light made her arm look contrasty and masculine.

But if your images are "about" pure elements of design, if that's the primary appeal to the images, then it might be worth trying to go simple and more abstract. . . . There's nothing wrong with putting in hidden stuff, things that you don't see without further investigation.

I often do make images that are more abstract, but I'm trying to expand my comfort zone beyond inanimate objects to include humans. We had a little conversation with this woman, and she didn't seem to mind when I pulled out the camera, so I took the opportunity.

I didn't put in hidden stuff on purpose. I took several shots and liked the way this one looked, not because there's a cat in it (there was a cat in all of them) but just visually, as a whole, without knowing why. After the fact, I tried to figure out what parts of the image were working for me.

Most people who look at a photo probably won't consciously evaluate the composition, but I think a photo with compositional strengths has more appeal than one without.


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Jun 27, 2014 02:56 |  #3400

Ricardo222 wrote in post #16996660 (external link)
I only had a few moments to grab this shot, waiting as long as I could for the plane to reach darker cloud but just before he climbed out of the dive. so the framing was more instinctive than carefully planned. (This has not been cropped, SOOC except for just a touch of contrast added.)

I believe that in the "heat of the moment" the photographer has to work on instinct. By all means pre-plan as much as possible, but the exact moment that shutter button is pressed and the shape" an action shot makes in the viewfinder is all down to instinct.


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Jun 27, 2014 22:04 |  #3401

OhLook wrote in post #16996995 (external link)
My description was an answer to your request to describe what I see in the composition. I don't know what to say about their importance. Importance would have to be judged with reference to some standard. This image isn't going to alter world affairs in any way.

Well, composition can arguably be broken down into techniques and principles of where the eye is drawn first... etc.

What kinds of importance can lines and curves have?

They can (should? ) be used to emphasize what you're trying to show. But you have to start with intent. I think my main issue is that composition depends on intent.

Are there circumstances in which one says that this shape (the speaker pointing to something) is important and another shape is trivial?

Yes. And there are circumstances where lines are wrong, or lines are right. For example if you want rigid, stable, static, you make straight, edgy, blocky shapes. If you want flexible, flowing, soft, you want curvy lines.

So you can interpret an image when you don't know the intent, but to critique you need to know what they were going for. This way "rules" become objective.

I think the structural features I identified encourage seeing the woman and cat as a harmonious unit. Clearly, they're separate beings, but the formal elements connect them by making them part of a pattern created by lines that fall close together at the top, diverge in the middle, and join at the bottom. The shadow of the arm is a blatant connector, a thick, almost straight line, as if someone had taken a Sharpie and drawn a bar between the two creatures to emphasize that they have something to do with each other. When I imagine the photo with that shadow removed, it becomes less meaningful.

But perhaps no one else sees these relationships. I posted in hopes of finding out what others think about the image. Is it all in my head?

Ok, so if your emphasis is to show the line between the cat and the handwoman, one way to do it is to reduce the contrast on a lot of other lines. Shadow is a contrast between gray and black. Meanwhile there's a lot of lines where the eye is drawn before that, which mute your line out completely: near the crotch, the bumper... the are much stronger centers of interest and your line can't compete with them.


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Jun 27, 2014 23:37 |  #3402

DocFrankenstein wrote in post #16998745 (external link)
Well, composition can arguably be broken down into techniques and principles of where the eye is drawn first... etc.

Yes, I pay attention to that. I can't be sure that everyone's eye will follow the path mine did. I think some people will search instantly for human or animal figures and alight on them, and others won't.

Ok, so if your emphasis is to show the line between the cat and the handwoman, one way to do it is to reduce the contrast on a lot of other lines. Shadow is a contrast between gray and black. Meanwhile there's a lot of lines where the eye is drawn before that, which mute your line out completely: near the crotch, the bumper... the are much stronger centers of interest and your line can't compete with them.

That line doesn't make the whole composition; it's just a bonus. But I take your point. I rely on finding scenes in nature that have an acceptable distribution of brightness because my software won't brighten or darken parts of images selectively. One example: the whole area of the bumper is too dark, and it contains detail that I would have liked to bring out.


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Jun 28, 2014 09:15 as a reply to  @ OhLook's post |  #3403

This stems from a debate concerning "photography as art discussion" which is unimportant in this thread.
My question...why is it that, only paintings and prints thereof are the only things that adorn the walls of hotels, motels, or upper-end homes.


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Jun 28, 2014 10:52 |  #3404

chauncey wrote in post #16999308 (external link)
My question...why is it that, only paintings and prints thereof are the only things that adorn the walls of hotels, motels, or upper-end homes.

They aren't. Photos, etchings, drawings, and prints of drawings are also used. Antique posters, pages from herbals, . . . Maybe it varies regionally.


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Jun 28, 2014 16:14 |  #3405

chauncey wrote in post #16999308 (external link)
This stems from a debate concerning "photography as art discussion" which is unimportant in this thread.
My question...why is it that, only paintings and prints thereof are the only things that adorn the walls of hotels, motels, or upper-end homes.


HUH? I don't know where you have been going Chauncey but many really of the upper end hotels, Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, many very wealthy people use photographs. I was just on an assignment in Lake Geneva Wisc and the Grand Geneva only has photographs in the rooms. And the argument on whether photography can be art was settled 8 years ago. (Straight Photography) That was the movement where photographers Like Adams, Weston, Cunningham and later Bresson, Frank, Winogrand all knew for photography to be an art form it had to stop imitating paintings (those photographs that were imitating painting before and through turn of the 20th century are referred to as Pictorial) and do what only photography can do that other art forms can't do. There is only a debate now with those that don't know the history.

Some art historians also say that some painting movements like Impressionism might not have happened if not for photography. You suddenly had a camera that could faithfully reproduce a subject so now that freed painters to paint how they felt about things instead of the way the actually were.




  
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