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Author Topic: Caponigro on Composition  (Read 17121 times)
Schewe
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« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2009, 10:09:55 PM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
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 you bringing your own baggage...the point I was making is that the fact that an image is manipulated it totally irrelevant to the discussion of composition and to try to make relevant it is close minded...who cares how an image is created? If you do, it's your own hang up I don't share.
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Schewe
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« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2009, 10:14:55 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
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.

Maybe JP should have simply showed the FINAL image in the Reducing Images to The Essentials...The directional vectors is what the article is all about. The fact that the image was a manipulated assembly is totally irrelevant and to give any credence to the manner in which the image was created completely misses the point. Scribbles on paper is all you need to talk about composition. Ironically, I've seen JP make lots of scribbles on paper when designing compositions for photographs that may take years to create. He does indeed do the composition well before ever doing the photograph.
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Rob C
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« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2009, 03:11:46 AM »
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Quote from: laughingbear
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.

Postglacial is a very pleasing shot; why would you want to quit your system whilst you are ahead?

But, on the matter of stitching and then undoing, women only do that if things go wrong and the machine catches and their material goes squint. Why not save yourself the trouble of all that work and just look a little longer before you shoot and then you will find the jewel in the sand first time? Itīs not as if you have to wheedle an expression out of somebody! Learn from the ladies: they are heaps smarter than they let you think; smarter than most of us guys!

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2009, 03:38:49 AM »
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Iīm afraid that reading whatīs going down here seems, to me, a little like the closing of ranks of a group of friends with a very vested commercial interest in the groupīs status quo. Fine, but can we be subtle about it and avoid the histrionics?

As you all know by now, I believe that you cannot teach composition any more than you can teach me to sing. I have tried all my life and still canīt do it. It boils down to a God-given ability, not necessarily a talent. Talent, for me, would imply doing it very very well.

The chat about painting and learning how to do it is about the technical aspects of preparing surfaces, mixing the paint/colours and yes, teaching is obviously going to be a great help and a time saver. But that doesnīt give you an ounce of talent, only technique, which the earlier mentioned house painter could quickly learn without becomng an artist. Similarly with photography: you can teach somebody how to focus, expose (even digitally, I am hoping) and choose a focal length. But you are not teaching him how to see or be creative, just technically proficient. As with the wonderful Meerkat.com commercial, so close yet so far apart!

This marks yet another day that I have failed to get my ass into gear (so far) and go try out the new Nikkor 180mm I managed to get in place of that dreadful 24-70 zoom that I bought in a moment of post-male-menopausal anxiety. How we suffer when thirty-nine and holding.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 11, 2009, 03:40:05 AM by Rob C » Logged

barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #44 on: June 11, 2009, 03:58:10 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
That's you bringing your own baggage...the point I was making is that the fact that an image is manipulated it totally irrelevant to the discussion of composition and to try to make relevant it is close minded...who cares how an image is created? If you do, it's your own hang up I don't share.

Artists and photographers do not share the same techniques in composition. The distinction is a photographer is selective in composition with what he has, what is really there, being selective with what he picks for the final image....most artists are making it up..making it fit what they want, moving things around, adding and removing areas etc. That is the crucial point. Different skills for both.

Having an article based on art (whatever type), is only going to be of so much use to photographers.
On having a hang up, you are right I do..I like my photography to look like photographs..not a photoshop rendered creation. I make no apologies for that. Rather sad that some are pushing beyond the boundaries of photography, in a desperate attempt to be different, yet ending up mostly repeating what the majority of folks are doing. I have no problems with enhancement..I will never add or remove elements of a photo, closed minded you call it, I call it "choice"









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Ray
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« Reply #45 on: June 11, 2009, 05:30:35 AM »
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Jeez! These arguments are so convoluted, I don't think anyone can make sense of them.
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russell a
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« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2009, 06:48:15 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Jeez! These arguments are so convoluted, I don't think anyone can make sense of them.

Thus the state of art writing in general.  One cannot prove anything as regards truth, beauty, authenticity, or what-you-got in Art.  So, what one does is twist words into the shape of a club and beat one's adversaries over the head with them.  Those with sufficient charisma may be able to get others to drink their Kool-Aid.  Would you like that with fries?
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Ray
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« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2009, 07:38:32 AM »
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Quote from: russell a
Thus the state of art writing in general.  One cannot prove anything as regards truth, beauty, authenticity, or what-you-got in Art.  So, what one does is twist words into the shape of a club and beat one's adversaries over the head with them.  Those with sufficient charisma may be able to get others to drink their Kool-Aid.  Would you like that with fries?

I can't help but agree, russell a.  
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EdRosch
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« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2009, 09:11:07 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Jeez! These arguments are so convoluted, I don't think anyone can make sense of them.

Quote from: russell a
Thus the state of art writing in general.  One cannot prove anything as regards truth, beauty, authenticity, or what-you-got in Art.  So, what one does is twist words into the shape of a club and beat one's adversaries over the head with them.  Those with sufficient charisma may be able to get others to drink their Kool-Aid.  Would you like that with fries?

Quote from: Ray
I can't help but agree, russell a.  

Me Too!!! and I would point out that there is a consequence in that I would imagine that I'm not the only visitor who might have something to contribute to a civil discourse who chooses to do so only very infrequently for the above reasons.

As I am posting I will mention that I've read Mr. Caponigro's essay several times.  I do not believe that he intended it as a basic primer on composition.  I do believe that he intended to give us something to think about without predefining his answers.  I would also comment that he has a very dense rich writing style- like really good fudge, you need to consume it in small bytes taking time to savor the complexity.

And as I seem to be on a roll.......... I've been a serious photographer for over forty years and have been paying a lot of attention to the best of what's out there, including the work of whomever the current 'Masters' are for longer than that.  My opinion is that for at least the last half century, Photography has been caught in a self referential rut.  The vast majority of the current work that is being admired and imitated today would fit right in to the 1950's without raising an eyebrow.  Caponigro is one of the very few actively looking for a way out of this continuous tail chasing and for that reason alone I feel whatever he's up to is worthy of attention.  I sincerely hope he continues to contribute more essays here.

Ed
artislens.com
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Rob C
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« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2009, 09:14:09 AM »
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Had fries with lunch today, but turbot without yesterday. Whatīs wrong with fries as long as they donīt come out of a factory? And they are fried in pure olive oil?

But Iīm feeling generous this afternoon: was offered a one-man show for April, so most things will be greeted with a smile for the next few hours or so. Or at least until I realise just what a mounting operation  (yes, a real pun!) I have set up for myself. Seems the back/whites swung it. Hmmmm. Makes that HP B9180 seem like a good idea at last!

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #50 on: June 11, 2009, 09:17:41 AM »
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Quote from: EdRosch
I've been a serious photographer for over forty years and have been paying a lot of attention to the best of what's out there, including the work of whomever the current 'Masters' are for longer than that.  My opinion is that for at least the last half century, Photography has been caught in a self referential rut.  The vast majority of the current work that is being admired and imitated today would fit right in to the 1950's without raising an eyebrow.  Ed
artislens.com




Thank you for unconsciously (I think) confirming my definition of the time I think of as the Golden Age.

Rob C
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larsrc
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« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2009, 10:31:51 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Iīm afraid that reading whatīs going down here seems, to me, a little like the closing of ranks of a group of friends with a very vested commercial interest in the groupīs status quo. Fine, but can we be subtle about it and avoid the histrionics?

As you all know by now, I believe that you cannot teach composition any more than you can teach me to sing. I have tried all my life and still canīt do it. It boils down to a God-given ability, not necessarily a talent. Talent, for me, would imply doing it very very well.

I've been following this discussion quietly so far, since I had nothing solid to back my viewpoint on; thank you for supplying something:)

I come from a fairly song-heavy culture, but didn't sing much up until University, where I found more people who like to get drunk and sing random songs. I liked singing, and did so at any occasion I could get away with, but when trying to sing in a choir, I got sent to a song teacher who gave up on me. My wife tried in vain to teach me -- she is a great singer, and could tell that I liked to sing, but she didn't know what to do. I tried some evening classes with little effect. We then happened to find a new song teacher for her (one whose title was literally "elite song teacher") and I went along for a trial session just for kicks. He taught my wife for an hour first, while I just watched and listened, but when he got to me, I could suddenly sing -- producing song rather than some oddly-distorted speech and hitting the notes about 85% percent of the time rather than 15%, according to my wife. While I will probably never be the next Pavarotti or even the next Susan Boyle, I did find that a good teacher could teach me to sing at least well. He also improved my wife's already excellent singing by quite a bit. The totally proved to us that anybody can learn to sing (outside of actual physical damage to the vocal chords).

So when you say that one cannot teach composition any more than one can teach you to sing, I can only conclude that a good teacher of composition would be able to teach it. It is, like any other learning activity, easier when you are young, thus allowing some to reach levels that later starters couldn't match in a lifetime. It is likely -- though of course I cannot prove it -- that many of the great masters of various arts have simply grown up in environments that taught them their arts implicitly while they were able to learn a lot very quickly. Much the same effect is seen in Denmark where, even though university education including stipends is available to everybody, those who go to university have a strong overrepresentation of children of academics. Those children have grown up with reading for pleasure and discussions of academic subjects being everpresent and simply got a head start on those skills.

I cannot believe that a sense of composition, anymore than any other skill, is something that is magically endowed to some and not to others, and that nothing they do can change that.  Given the right environment, we can all learn, though some at faster paces than others.

A question that has plagued me all through this discussion: For those who say that composition cannot be taught: Would you also say that it cannot be learned?

-Lars

P.S. If you don't believe what I say about the song teacher, you're welcome to come to Denmark and try him. His English is quite good.
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Morris Taub
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« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2009, 11:31:37 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Had fries with lunch today, but turbot without yesterday. Whatīs wrong with fries as long as they donīt come out of a factory? And they are fried in pure olive oil?

But Iīm feeling generous this afternoon: was offered a one-man show for April, so most things will be greeted with a smile for the next few hours or so. Or at least until I realise just what a mounting operation  (yes, a real pun!) I have set up for myself. Seems the back/whites swung it. Hmmmm. Makes that HP B9180 seem like a good idea at last!

Rob C

congratulations Rob...would love to see some of the work when it's ready if you feel like posting some here for us...

also, is that april 2010?...i guess...gives you plenty time to get comfy mounting images (photos) as you like...

think i'll have a glass of wine tonight in your honor...

M

ps...i used to love the thin, long, mushy (slightly crispy outside), salty, burger king fries when i was a kid...man, feels good to finally admit that in public...

pss...and just to keep this post on topic I kinda agree with this in general terms...

"Thus the state of art writing in general. One cannot prove anything as regards truth, beauty, authenticity, or what-you-got in Art. So, what one does is twist words into the shape of a club and beat one's adversaries over the head with them. Those with sufficient charisma may be able to get others to drink their Kool-Aid. Would you like that with fries?"

i do think you can show someone the door to 'composition'...they have to walk through it...if the resulting work can be called art one day, up to a panel of sanctified judges to decide...what, the 5 thousand or so professional art seller's, gallery owners, art critiques, museum curators, etc. that tell the world what's hot and what's not...
« Last Edit: June 11, 2009, 11:41:59 AM by momo2 » Logged

seangirard
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« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2009, 12:31:01 PM »
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Geez.

The guy showed at least 10 techniques for reducing and analyzing a composition. I think if we all went back to our libraries to select an image with which to demonstrate those same techniques equally well we might find it is not so easy to pick one.

-sean
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2009, 12:39:48 PM »
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Quote from: larsrc
I've been following this discussion quietly so far, since I had nothing solid to back my viewpoint on; thank you for supplying something:)

I come from a fairly song-heavy culture, but didn't sing much up until University, where I found more people who like to get drunk and sing random songs. I liked singing, and did so at any occasion I could get away with, but when trying to sing in a choir, I got sent to a song teacher who gave up on me. My wife tried in vain to teach me -- she is a great singer, and could tell that I liked to sing, but she didn't know what to do. I tried some evening classes with little effect. We then happened to find a new song teacher for her (one whose title was literally "elite song teacher") and I went along for a trial session just for kicks. He taught my wife for an hour first, while I just watched and listened, but when he got to me, I could suddenly sing -- producing song rather than some oddly-distorted speech and hitting the notes about 85% percent of the time rather than 15%, according to my wife. While I will probably never be the next Pavarotti or even the next Susan Boyle, I did find that a good teacher could teach me to sing at least well. He also improved my wife's already excellent singing by quite a bit. The totally proved to us that anybody can learn to sing (outside of actual physical damage to the vocal chords).

So when you say that one cannot teach composition any more than one can teach you to sing, I can only conclude that a good teacher of composition would be able to teach it. It is, like any other learning activity, easier when you are young, thus allowing some to reach levels that later starters couldn't match in a lifetime. It is likely -- though of course I cannot prove it -- that many of the great masters of various arts have simply grown up in environments that taught them their arts implicitly while they were able to learn a lot very quickly. Much the same effect is seen in Denmark where, even though university education including stipends is available to everybody, those who go to university have a strong overrepresentation of children of academics. Those children have grown up with reading for pleasure and discussions of academic subjects being everpresent and simply got a head start on those skills.

I cannot believe that a sense of composition, anymore than any other skill, is something that is magically endowed to some and not to others, and that nothing they do can change that.  Given the right environment, we can all learn, though some at faster paces than others.

A question that has plagued me all through this discussion: For those who say that composition cannot be taught: Would you also say that it cannot be learned?

-Lars

P.S. If you don't believe what I say about the song teacher, you're welcome to come to Denmark and try him. His English is quite good.
Bravo, Lars! Well said!

-Eric


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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
Schewe
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« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2009, 01:25:18 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Iīm afraid that reading whatīs going down here seems, to me, a little like the closing of ranks of a group of friends with a very vested commercial interest in the groupīs status quo. Fine, but can we be subtle about it and avoid the histrionics?


Huh?

Yes, JP is a friend and colleague but that has nothing to do with pointing out that some of the comments by people complaining about his use of a manipulated image makes the article invalid are, uh stooopid hardly reaches the level of closing of the ranks (the what, rank of two?)

As for the inability for you to learn how to sing having something to do with learning about composition, that's pretty silly as well. One is a physical activity and the other is intellectual.

You must have a pretty dim view of any educational activities huh? Shame you can't seem to learn anything...
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lightstand
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« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2009, 02:01:13 PM »
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First I don't want to highjack this thread, but I do want to thank Mr Caponigro for presenting his article. It is very cool that someone of his caliber is writing informative articles on topics that have nothing to do with equipment reviews and thanks to Michael for publishing them.

Very appreciated & valued. thanks, Jeff
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Rob C
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« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2009, 04:00:52 PM »
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Quote from: Schewe
Huh?

Yes, JP is a friend and colleague but that has nothing to do with pointing out that some of the comments by people complaining about his use of a manipulated image makes the article invalid are, uh stooopid hardly reaches the level of closing of the ranks (the what, rank of two?)

As for the inability for you to learn how to sing having something to do with learning about composition, that's pretty silly as well. One is a physical activity and the other is intellectual.

You must have a pretty dim view of any educational activities huh? Shame you can't seem to learn anything...


Love you too, Schewe, thanks for proving my point.

Rob C
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2009, 04:25:55 PM »
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I guess we all have to agree or else face the consequences of Mr Schewe  
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daws
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« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2009, 06:53:39 PM »
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Quote from: EdRosch
I would also comment that he has a very dense rich writing style- like really good fudge, you need to consume it in small bytes taking time to savor the complexity.
Then could Ed or anyone who has digested it (meaning no disrespect to Mr. Caponigro, whose work I admire), might they explain to me what passages such as the following mean?

Quote
Composition is an extremely complex subject. In any composition there are many variables at work simultaneously. Each variable exerts its own force, contributing to the whole. Each element influences the other, creating a cascading chain of action, reaction, interaction. The degree to which one variable is emphasized over or used to modify another gives the viewer visual clues about the creator’s ways of seeing and intentions. Visual communicators dynamically combine these components to make statements. Versatility with many strategies enables visual communicators to more successful in varied situations and to make more varied statements. Consistency, strength, and distinctive (sometimes novel) approach indicates a signature style, communicating information not only about the subjects but also about the creator of an image or images. It’s all about the quality of the relationships you create.

Again meaning no disrespect, I found the images to be inspiring and instructive but the writing to be belaboring the obvious.

I mean, "Versatility with many strategies enables visual communicators to [be] more successful in varied situations and to make more varied statements"...?

 

...Maybe it's just me?









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