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Author Topic: Caponigro on Composition  (Read 17562 times)
Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2009, 11:45:45 AM »
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I agree that influence and Master/student should be viewed as two different things. A minor quibble; Van Gogh was, as a young man a clerk for Goupil & Co.; I doubt he was involved in buying and selling, though he was certainly exposed to paintings more intimately than possible other wise.

John Paul Caponigro's deconstruction of image, is a classic painters technique, ranging from viewing a scene through strongly colored glass, ( shows the values ) to squinting. ( Blurs the composition into simple elements ).
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joedecker
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« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2009, 11:46:04 AM »
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Quote from: joedecker
"what were you trying to do hear", engaging the students Socratically, and then facilitating the translation of often difficult-to-communicate responses of myself, the student, and other students into concrete advice.

(please excuse "hear" and the other typos.  Mea culpa.)
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Joe Decker
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Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2009, 11:58:09 AM »
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Joe Decker,

I compliment you, as an exceptional teacher.

Bron

PS.  The Photocrati site is great, and I've bookmarked your site for a longer look, when I'm not trying to work. The joys of self-employment.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 12:06:43 PM by Bronislaus Janulis » Logged

John Camp
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2009, 03:09:44 PM »
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Quote from: Bronislaus Janulis
I agree that influence and Master/student should be viewed as two different things. A minor quibble; Van Gogh was, as a young man a clerk for Goupil & Co.; I doubt he was involved in buying and selling, though he was certainly exposed to paintings more intimately than possible other wise.

John Paul Caponigro's deconstruction of image, is a classic painters technique, ranging from viewing a scene through strongly colored glass, ( shows the values ) to squinting. ( Blurs the composition into simple elements ).

Van Gogh's letters do not discuss selling, as far as I know, but a man who lived with him in the same rooming house said that he was a "salesman" and bookkeeper for Goupil ("Van Gogh: A Retrospective.") Several of Van Gogh's letter from London, to Theo, allude to new exhibits going up, and it sounds very much like he was involved. He actually did quite well at Goupil at first, only changing directions after a fail loved interest in London.

The reason oil painters need teachers before they can get good is that oil effects can be explained and demonstrated quite easily, but learning them on your own is terribly difficult, even with book-study: the best way to learn it is to see it, and I suspect the ONLY way to learn it comprehensively is to have it demonstrated to you. It took decades of work before oil painting reached its early peak with painters like Van Eyck; there was simply too much work to do, that is not obvious, and can only be developed through protracted experimentation. Once the experiments are done, the techniques can easily be passed on, which is what teachers do, among other things.

There are painters who learned essentially without instruction, and we usually call them things like "Outsiders" or "Primitives." Henri Rousseau, was one-such, and a fine artist (though he hung out with great painters, and probably got a lot of advice); but an exception. Grandma Moses, another exception, said such wonderful things as "I've never seen blue snow," precisely because she'd never had any training, and therefore never painted a shadow on snow.

JC
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Rob C
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« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2009, 04:01:42 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Grandma Moses, another exception, said such wonderful things as "I've never seen blue snow," precisely because she'd never had any training, and therefore never painted a shadow on snow.

JC


John, you have renewed my faith in my fellow man!

As you might have been unable to avoid reading on these pages, I have developed a late-in-life renewed interest in painting (my love prior to photography) and have alluded to this rebirth as my Grandma Moses era (dare I say agenda?).

This is the first time I have known for sure that anybody knew what in hell I was drifting on about - I was starting to imagine I had imagined it all myself!

Ciao- Rob C
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Misirlou
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« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2009, 06:13:36 PM »
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I have a little formal art education, and I have to say that some of the things I was taught very early about compostion have been helpful to me all along. I might have figured them all out on my own, but I believe composition is about expectations, and having some of that laid out for my by the more experienced artists was a nice jump start. As viewers who have seen tens of thousands of images, we "expect" to be presented things in certain ways. If we think about those in a systematic way, we might realize there are ways to use the expectations of our viewers to our artistic advantage.

When I was young, I was passionate about painting. One time, I deliberately composed a painting of a nude to impart a sense of illicit voyeurism on the viewer. I built a canvas of unusual proportions, defined the negatve spaces in a speciifc way, etc. At the show, I discussed my results with other trained artists, and just some folks who walked in casually. I got a sense that my compositional tricks worked exactly as I had intended. That gave me a lot of artistic confidence. Very valuable, essentially academic exercise.

So I love to read about composition. You never know how someone else's thought process might give you a new way to see. Living in Japan for three years, I tried to understand how Japanese artists approached composition from a different cultural background from my own. Among many other things I learned, I decided that we are strongly influenced by the manner in which we read. For example, in the west, we usually read from left to right, and from top to bottom. Think about that the next time you look at classical Japanese art. Think about how you might tell a more interesting story, just by telling it in a different direction. If I "teach" that to some young photographer, will that turn them into an "artist?" Perhaps not. But, it might get a technician interested in becoming an artist. Who knows?
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2009, 04:10:13 AM »
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It might have helped if he had used a "normal" photo. Unless of course there happens to be a place where rocks float above the sand in a desert  
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Schewe
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« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2009, 10:47:09 AM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
It might have helped if he had used a "normal" photo.

Why?
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John Camp
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« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2009, 11:20:15 AM »
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Why?

Because a lot of things that are considered normal practice in discussing composition don't work very well when rocks float above the desert. For example, one basic of composition is simply to put darker areas toward the bottom of a composition, or, say, beneath the feet of subjects, the same way shadows are usually shown *below* noses and other facial features. Doing this makes it easier to *read* a photograph or a painting. That's because, in the standard world view, the sun is often the source of light and it is usually shining down, as are most other light sources. When lights shine up, or directly sideways, we immediately read artificiality into the scene, and sometimes have a hard time reading it at all. Low shadow areas make it seem that people and other objects are grounded normally -- are not floating -- and in probably 99% of photos, that's desirable. This is not to say that you *can't* do what Mr. Caponigro does; of course you can. There *are* things that can be demonstrated by floating boulders -- and light *can* come from anywhere -- but it perhaps seriously non-standard views would not be the best example to use in a basic composition course, which is what is being proposed.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2009, 11:32:48 AM »
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Wouldn't showing why the non standard view works also be of value?
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Schewe
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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2009, 12:53:03 PM »
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Because a lot of things that are considered normal practice in discussing composition don't work very well when rocks float above the desert.

I guess the exercise of reducing the image to it's essentials escaped you?

Pretend you didn't see the image in the beginning of the article...does that really have an impact on the validity of the article?
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John Camp
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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2009, 01:04:49 PM »
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Quote from: Schewe
I guess the exercise of reducing the image to it's essentials escaped you?

Pretend you didn't see the image in the beginning of the article...does that really have an impact on the validity of the article?

What? The images and the examples ARE the article. The words just attempt to give you an approach to the images and examples. We're talking about composition of images, not composition of paragraphs. Maybe you should spend some time with the article; you could learn something.
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Schewe
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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2009, 02:20:52 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Maybe you should spend some time with the article; you could learn something.

I have...in the article main, he NEVER mentions the floating rocks image...in the exercise of reducing the image to the essentials, which image is used is irrelevant. So if you can't see the forest for the trees, JP's images are irrelevant to his article.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2009, 02:22:05 PM by Schewe » Logged
laughingbear
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« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2009, 04:23:02 PM »
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Coincidently, I am shooting since a few days with the alpha 900 and started stitching some pictures. One of the stitches went wrong, and I sat there not very happy staring at the messed up file on my screen, when something hit me.... there is so much information and detail.... there just has to be something in there which is half way decent.

So, out of the massive 12 stitch file, showing the ocean, the distant hills, the rocky beach, meadows etc, I started cropping, looking for the essential thing that I saw initially in the whole scene, and it got me thinking about a title at the same time.

The exercise mentioned is useful imho, and it reminds me a little to the Bauhaus school, Prof. Harald Mante, Vincent Weber student, who studied with Kandinsky, has described similiar in his book THE PHOTOGRAPH.

The experiecne with a messed up stitch has got me thinking, I will stitch more, and then crop the Heck out of it to find that special little gem which eventually motivated me to shoot the scene.


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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2009, 06:29:18 PM »
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On the floating rocks thing.
I have always considered composition as the photographer being selective in his position, angles, choice of focal length etc etc, there is a long list.
Starting with a doctored image IMO does not help the article..simply because by doing a photoshop job to start with, you are already making the composition fit what you want. Bit like an artist with oil paints, and I know a few..they frequently "move stuff about" to make it just as they want.

Photographers do not have that liberty, well not in the real world. Call me old fashioned if you want  
We either have an article on photoshop as a compositional tool (and it can be)
Or we have one on a basic and fundamental photographic technique.


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adam z
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« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2009, 06:58:29 PM »
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Composition is about the way the elements come together in a photo to create a pleasing (even if only to the photographer) image. By pleasing I don't necessarily mean nice or harmoniou, the composition may be used to create tention etc too. If talking about composition in general, then it is in my eyes about the final image. Therefore any image can be used, even if it involves heavy photoshopping. If the topic is more specific, like composing a shot in camera - there are obviously some differences for technical reasons. If those floating rocks were attached to the ground with a metal post, I am guessing no one would complain - but we are talking about the positioning of elements in a frame, not the technicalities of how they got there.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2009, 07:06:05 PM »
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The technicalities of how they got there is important to some of us.
Composition is something that more often than not takes place "before" the shutter is fired.
The most useful photos aka composition wise,are probably the ones that didn't work, not the ones that do.

Yes art can be used to illustrate the point (and this is digital art), just maybe for an intro article something a bit more normal would have been a better choice. But that is open to debate..as everything is.

Regardless..I shall be interested to see where this series goes.
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Schewe
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« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2009, 07:53:15 PM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
On the floating rocks thing.
I have always considered composition as the photographer being selective in his position, angles, choice of focal length etc etc, there is a long list.


The whole article could have been written with a painting or drawing as the article illustration or no friggin' illustration at all. You are letting your prejudice get in the way learning something. The fact that you have a hang up about manipulated images has zero to do with what the article is trying to get across and everything yo do with your own attitudes (which may be educational in a different way).

If people are dismissing the article because JP is not a "traditional photographer" that speaks volumes about closed mindedness–which to my way of thinking is the antithesis of art and creativity...
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2009, 08:19:27 PM »
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We shall have to agree to disagree then.
But I would have expected you to be a tad more civil in your response. I have no hang ups, nor is it your place to call me "closed minded"
We work the way we want to, and that's it. I don't tell  you how to go about your picture taking, and I don't expect you to lecture me either.
I cannot for the life of me see how any photographer gets any degree of satisfaction with wholesale and comprehensive manipulation, to the degree of removing or adding elements. But that is nothing more than my own personal view..and it's up to everyone to do what they like.

What I don't like however is this assumption that everyone must "follow the line" and do mega manipulation. What is the goal here, to make us all produce work that is alike? That's not what photography is about, it's about personal taste, and ideas.

I have a lot of respect for talented folks who do digital art..and artists as a whole, even if it's not for me. Just don't go telling me it has much to do with photography.

Truth is for me, I find the road less travelled is more fun. I could sit there read all the tutorials and spend most of my days doing pp. Making the perfect image out of various composites. But that defeats the point of photography..and IMO it's the "easy way out" Mass market manufactured for crowd pleasing.

I'll take close minded and traditional thanks very much. It's a lot more fun going out and reading the light, finding the angles..not making it up on a computer as you go along. Again my own personal view..nothing more or less. Nor did I dismiss the article.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2009, 08:31:52 PM by barryfitzgerald » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2009, 08:27:41 PM »
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Quote from: Schewe
The whole article could have been written with a painting or drawing as the article illustration or no friggin' illustration at all. You are letting your prejudice get in the way learning something. The fact that you have a hang up about manipulated images has zero to do with what the article is trying to get across and everything yo do with your own attitudes (which may be educational in a different way).

If people are dismissing the article because JP is not a "traditional photographer" that speaks volumes about closed mindedness–which to my way of thinking is the antithesis of art and creativity...

Interesting. Taking your argument to its logical conclusion ("or no friggin' illustration at all") you would seem to be making the case that photographs are not necessary to such lessons. An unusual position for a photographer. I'd take exactly the opposite position -- JP could have posted only the photo and the illustrations, and I would have understood what he was getting at. The words alone wouldn't do that for me.

I never dismissed anything because JP is not a traditional photographer -- I was simply making the point (if it wasn't clear before) that using an extremely advanced example of composition is somewhat problematic when the lesson is supposed to be about basic composition. For example, in the photo under consideration, in most basic composition courses, the instructor would urge you to understand where the light is coming from. In this example, the light doesn't seem to be coming from any particular place. There are  shadows, all parallel, which would suggest that the light source is far away to the right and small (like the sun), and yet, the backs of some of the boulders are lit from top to bottom, and some of them are lit mostly on the bottom or one side, and one isn't backlit at all. Are we supposed to understand that a guy with an enormous reflector is behind us to the left?

That JP does this doesn't bother me a whit -- I only question it in the context of a basic composition lesson. It's not a question of "art" or "closed mindedness" or what's proper, it's a question of teaching technique. A guy could be the Rembrandt of the photographic world, and if he can't teach, then it would be a waste of my time to listen to him. But to tell you the truth, I am interested enough in the enormously complex problems of composition that I eagerly look forward to what JP has to say in further lessons. But I myself might have taken a different photo, or even a painting, to explain the basics.

JC
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