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Thread started 04 Apr 2012 (Wednesday) 08:26
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Composition and all that Arty stuff - discussion thread.

 
sjones
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Apr 04, 2012 14:16 as a reply to  @ post 14209102 |  #16

For me, just studying the works of other photographers that I admired, even if I was not interested in their respective genre, has proved instructive…I think. But this, in a sense, goes back to what Allen stated: deciphering and incorporating the visual grammar or language in the photos observed. And by doing so, it is not as simple as merely copying, but instead a matter of using this language to hone one's personal perception of balance, movement, and aesthetic expression.

There are a number of quick 'rules,' but, again, as Allen noted, style manifest when one's approach becomes effectively second nature, whereby applying or ignoring the rules is not so much a cognitive act but an engrained function of one's own visual judgment and preference.

Where it becomes even more complicated is that often various factors are at play, with, for example, lighting affecting the balance of shape. Meanwhile, shapes can complement or conflict with one another, and all of this interaction is having to occur within the confines of a deliberate frame.

A strong example is provided above, where, in mtimber's photo, 'burning' in the highlighted area helped place not only greater focus on the main subject, but also increased the sense of depth between the subject and background. Tonally, it is also more pleasing. Allen, I like it as is edited, so there! Actually, I understand your point about cropping it all out (and it certainly works that way), but to me, with it darkened, it adds a complementary, rather than competing, degree of 'space.'

This of course, brings up the fact that subjectivity is ever present, but if we want to retreat to "it's only an opinion," then there's really no need for any further discussion.

In addition to dissecting photos, I've also found it helpful to closely study other forms of art; I reckon even literature is not out of bounds...expressive flow is arguably transferable. It can all apply. I have a stronger background in music, and much of my philosophies on music have undoubtedly carried over to photography.

I know there are some folks on POTN who are more technically oriented and thus place greater emphasis on the technical aspects of photography. However, for the most part, unless doing documentation or reproduction, there is largely no escaping the "artsy" process of where to place the frame, and I can only guess that some of these folks might be underestimating there abilities to improve on this, fearing that they are just too left-brained.

Yet, when discussing "getting it right in the camera," composition is often lumped in as a prerequisite as though it were a technical procedure. Yet, composition has more to do with the aesthetics than with the technical (although one would hope to be technically inclined enough not to crop out there dear ma's head when taking a photo, unless making some type of statement, of course). Again, there are basic rules (ones that can be defined mathematically, therefor technically) that can help improve composition, but discretion evolved from some degree of visual fluency is ultimately what overtakes the yoke, giving form to personal style.

Proper exposure is a technical matter, but the use of light is not. How a studio photographer sets up his lights entails technical issues, but the overall effect also relies on artistic considerations.

Likewise, attaining color accuracy and white balance falls into the technical, but effective use of color transcends the technical, as demonstrated in the color photos of Ernst Hass (http://www.ernst-haas.com/index.html (external link)).

Just as an aside, there is no sin in cropping after the fact to improve composition, but it should also be remembered that one can't crop "in" something.

Anyway, I can only reiterate the value of studying and examining the artistic works of others, whether the works involve photography, painting, music, poetry, sculpture, and so forth.


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airfrogusmc
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Apr 04, 2012 16:20 |  #17

sjones wrote in post #14209442 (external link)
Allen, I like it as is edited, so there! Actually, I understand your point about cropping it all out (and it certainly works that way), but to me, with it darkened, it adds a complementary, rather than competing, degree of 'space.'

:lol::lol:

I do agree that is much better brought down.

Take your hand or a piece of paper and cover the bright top area. I rest my case. It now lets the eye see the similar geometric shapes that are in the negative space. It no longer competes for attention but now allows the eye to move through the image and really lets the droplets with not only the contrasting shapes but also the contrasting tone to really stand out.

Great point about influences and yes you can get them from painting and other art forms as well as other photographers. Ralph Gibson said that painting is a much larger influence on him now than photography is.




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Apr 04, 2012 19:22 |  #18

Mark,
I had the same thoughts that Allen did as far as the image you posted is concerned. I did see that your profile said "image editing OK", so I edited it, as per my inclinations; I hope you don't mind.

I agreed with Allen about cropping out the bright area at the top of the image. As he quoted earlier, "either everything in the frame is helping the visual statement and if its not helping that statement, then its hurting it." Along these lines, I also removed a few tiny little distractions, such as the wayward glare streak extending upward from the leftmost water droplet, and the "spider-webby like thing" that extends downward from the largest water droplet, as well as the faint, OOF line towards the top of the image.

It is a fine image that you posted, and I appreciated the opportunity to work with it. I think that this type of image is excellent for illustrating the principles of composition!


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Apr 04, 2012 23:07 |  #19

Hey, I'd say this thread could get really cool as long as people contribute images as well as talk!

Sometimes, I like to "play" with a composition like this one -- the eye hopefully gets "drawn" to the part in focus and then just drifts down the line, into the softness, but then back again, at leat that's how it affects me:)!:

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Tom ­ Reichner
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Apr 04, 2012 23:37 |  #20

tonylong wrote in post #14212138 (external link)
Sometimes, I like to "play" with a composition like this one -- the eye hopefully gets "drawn" to the part in focus and then just drifts down the line, into the softness, but then back again, at leat that's how it affects me:)!:

Nice example, Tony.
And a great point, as well - it is important to consider how the viewer's eye will move around, or move across, an image.


"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 "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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tonylong
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Apr 05, 2012 00:44 |  #21

Tom Reichner wrote in post #14212262 (external link)
Nice example, Tony.
And a great point, as well - it is important to consider how the viewer's eye will move around, or move across, an image.

Tom, thanks, and I did like your discussion about the elk shot (it was an elk, right?)! Great viewpoint on the framing!


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Apr 05, 2012 04:14 |  #22

OK, so I get shots randomly generated at my PBase site and this shot come up.

I was on a POTN meetup in Olympia, WA, when I saw this, and wanted to "capture" it, in a way that would simply communicate "what it was" in an interesting way.

And so I framed it and shot it, although I cropped it to a 4:5 aspect ratio. And, I have the wheel "centered", because it "works" for me...

But please give me some C&C!!!:

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Wildlife project pics here (external link), Biking Photog shoots here (external link), "Suburbia" project here (external link)! Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood pics here (external link)

  
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mtimber
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Apr 05, 2012 06:32 |  #23

sjones wrote in post #14209442 (external link)
For me, just studying the works of other photographers that I admired, even if I was not interested in their respective genre, has proved instructive…I think. But this, in a sense, goes back to what Allen stated: deciphering and incorporating the visual grammar or language in the photos observed. And by doing so, it is not as simple as merely copying, but instead a matter of using this language to hone one's personal perception of balance, movement, and aesthetic expression.

There are a number of quick 'rules,' but, again, as Allen noted, style manifest when one's approach becomes effectively second nature, whereby applying or ignoring the rules is not so much a cognitive act but an engrained function of one's own visual judgment and preference.

Where it becomes even more complicated is that often various factors are at play, with, for example, lighting affecting the balance of shape. Meanwhile, shapes can complement or conflict with one another, and all of this interaction is having to occur within the confines of a deliberate frame.

A strong example is provided above, where, in mtimber's photo, 'burning' in the highlighted area helped place not only greater focus on the main subject, but also increased the sense of depth between the subject and background. Tonally, it is also more pleasing. Allen, I like it as is edited, so there! Actually, I understand your point about cropping it all out (and it certainly works that way), but to me, with it darkened, it adds a complementary, rather than competing, degree of 'space.'

This of course, brings up the fact that subjectivity is ever present, but if we want to retreat to "it's only an opinion," then there's really no need for any further discussion.

In addition to dissecting photos, I've also found it helpful to closely study other forms of art; I reckon even literature is not out of bounds...expressive flow is arguably transferable. It can all apply. I have a stronger background in music, and much of my philosophies on music have undoubtedly carried over to photography.

I know there are some folks on POTN who are more technically oriented and thus place greater emphasis on the technical aspects of photography. However, for the most part, unless doing documentation or reproduction, there is largely no escaping the "artsy" process of where to place the frame, and I can only guess that some of these folks might be underestimating there abilities to improve on this, fearing that they are just too left-brained.

Yet, when discussing "getting it right in the camera," composition is often lumped in as a prerequisite as though it were a technical procedure. Yet, composition has more to do with the aesthetics than with the technical (although one would hope to be technically inclined enough not to crop out there dear ma's head when taking a photo, unless making some type of statement, of course). Again, there are basic rules (ones that can be defined mathematically, therefor technically) that can help improve composition, but discretion evolved from some degree of visual fluency is ultimately what overtakes the yoke, giving form to personal style.

Proper exposure is a technical matter, but the use of light is not. How a studio photographer sets up his lights entails technical issues, but the overall effect also relies on artistic considerations.

Likewise, attaining color accuracy and white balance falls into the technical, but effective use of color transcends the technical, as demonstrated in the color photos of Ernst Hass (http://www.ernst-haas.com/index.html (external link)).

Just as an aside, there is no sin in cropping after the fact to improve composition, but it should also be remembered that one can't crop "in" something.

Anyway, I can only reiterate the value of studying and examining the artistic works of others, whether the works involve photography, painting, music, poetry, sculpture, and so forth.

Excellent post.

Enjoyed it, good fluid writing style. :-)


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mtimber
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Apr 05, 2012 06:34 |  #24

Tom Reichner wrote in post #14210841 (external link)
Mark,
I had the same thoughts that Allen did as far as the image you posted is concerned. I did see that your profile said "image editing OK", so I edited it, as per my inclinations; I hope you don't mind.

I agreed with Allen about cropping out the bright area at the top of the image. As he quoted earlier, "either everything in the frame is helping the visual statement and if its not helping that statement, then its hurting it." Along these lines, I also removed a few tiny little distractions, such as the wayward glare streak extending upward from the leftmost water droplet, and the "spider-webby like thing" that extends downward from the largest water droplet, as well as the faint, OOF line towards the top of the image.

It is a fine image that you posted, and I appreciated the opportunity to work with it. I think that this type of image is excellent for illustrating the principles of composition!

I do like what you did here.

I appreciate how the lower line and the metal peg now point the eye off the image.

It achieves the same thing as the original.

I would say a good edit that shows how a simple edit can change an image.


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Apr 05, 2012 06:36 |  #25

tonylong wrote in post #14212138 (external link)
Hey, I'd say this thread could get really cool as long as people contribute images as well as talk!

Sometimes, I like to "play" with a composition like this one -- the eye hopefully gets "drawn" to the part in focus and then just drifts down the line, into the softness, but then back again, at leat that's how it affects me:)!:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
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I really like this shot Tony.

I love the rich colours and the use of a single point perspective (thanks Mike Kelley for explaining that on another thread).

In fact, it is a nice progresssion from bold colours to more muted colours if you follow the colours through the image.

I also like the texture on the floor.

I would have straightened up the verticals though, I think that would have made it an even better shot, bringing colour, texture and lines together.


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Apr 05, 2012 06:41 |  #26

tonylong wrote in post #14213134 (external link)
OK, so I get shots randomly generated at my PBase site and this shot come up.

I was on a POTN meetup in Olympia, WA, when I saw this, and wanted to "capture" it, in a way that would simply communicate "what it was" in an interesting way.

And so I framed it and shot it, although I cropped it to a 4:5 aspect ratio. And, I have the wheel "centered", because it "works" for me...

But please give me some C&C!!!:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
HTTP response: 403 | MIME changed to 'text/html'

You have some nice geometry and bright complimentary colours here Tony.

I like the square, circle and triangular elements.

I would however have given a little more room at the top for the square to be more apparent and cleaned up the odd bits in the bottom of the box.


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Apr 05, 2012 06:41 |  #27

Lets see some more pics with your own observations folks.


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airfrogusmc
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Apr 05, 2012 07:44 |  #28

tonylong wrote in post #14212138 (external link)
Hey, I'd say this thread could get really cool as long as people contribute images as well as talk!

Sometimes, I like to "play" with a composition like this one -- the eye hopefully gets "drawn" to the part in focus and then just drifts down the line, into the softness, but then back again, at leat that's how it affects me:)!:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
HTTP response: 403 | MIME changed to 'text/html'

My problem Tony is all the lines lead to the garbage can in the background. I think this has a lot of possibilities but there is too much here that shouldn't be like the box with the red stripes on the wall and all the lines lead to the garbage can. Either everything in the frame is helping the visual statement or if its not helping then its hurting the visual statement.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Apr 05, 2012 08:11 |  #29

mtimber wrote in post #14213387 (external link)
You have some nice geometry and bright complimentary colours here Tony.

I like the square, circle and triangular elements.

I would however have given a little more room at the top for the square to be more apparent and cleaned up the odd bits in the bottom of the box.

Red and blue are not complimentary colors but 2 parts of a triadic, primary, color scheme.

Red and green are complimentary colors they are opposite each other on the color wheel.;)




  
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breal101
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Apr 05, 2012 08:28 |  #30

airfrogusmc wrote in post #14213689 (external link)
Red and blue are not complimentary colors but 2 parts of a triadic, primary, color scheme.

Red and green are complimentary colors they are opposite each other on the color wheel.;)

It could be argued that the wall is cyan, or teal which is the opposite of red in light color theory. :lol: Although the bench isn't red either.

Magenta is the opposite of green for light theory.

Which color wheel are we talking about in art theory?


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