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Author Topic: Effective composition  (Read 33437 times)
Scott_H
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« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2004, 06:10:14 AM »
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I think it's kind of ephemeral.  It's like when you are in a room and it is tense, that kind of feeling.  When it is late in the third period, and your team needs that tying goal.  I look at the lake photograph, and it makes me feel that same way.

The way those mountains are cut off in the lake picture does that to me.  I look at them, and I know there is supposed to be more there, but there isn't.  I want to see the rest of the mountains.  I can see it in the reflection, but it is not the same.  In this case I think it might be a little too tense for me personally.

I think in the lake picture as well, there is a tendency for my eye to be drawn out of the frame in search of the mountains.  The dunes can keep my eye in the frame so it doesn't bother me so much.
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Exegeter
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« Reply #41 on: January 07, 2004, 09:59:14 PM »
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I'm new to photography, but I'll be graduating this year with a minor in design and media production.  In this past fall semester we had an assignment to demonstrate tension.  I'd just finished looking at the Russian Suprematists and thought my illustration with four blue squares evenly spaced across across the stage (the "paper" you draw on in graphics programs) except for the last was absolutely brilliant.  It got me a C.  

If I were to redo it the boxes would all be evenly spaced and I'd have something like a puke-like olive tint to one.  THAT would be tension.  Tension is when you take something good and screw it up.

Tesnion is tension because the composition works in all other ways.  Michael's photo has a theme of similar curves and colors, and it's tension because an otherwise good composition is screwed up.  It's not the most tense image I've ever seen, but it works.  And that's ok because I'm sure Michael wasn't trying to give us a lesson in tension, thus overplaying it.  It's subtle.  

Hacking the top off that other photo doesn't add tension, just bad composition.  I think it'd be better if he/she re-instated the top.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #42 on: January 10, 2004, 07:20:51 PM »
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Tension seems to be there when the excluded is drawing your attention, maybe because we don't know what to expect. Or am I in the wrong place?
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Ray
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« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2004, 04:22:24 PM »
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The portion of the mountains behind the dunes is dark and not very interesting to the eye. The color also harmonizs with the dunes, so the mountains do not attract attention.
I tend to agree with Bobtrips here. The background mountains contrast with the foreground dunes on so many levels, light and shade, color and texture, smooth and rough. It's this contrast that makes the picture, together with the diagonal lines and flowing curves which really create the dynamism.

There is tension, in my view, resulting from the cropping of the top of the frame. But I'm not sure it's the cropping of the sky that creates this tension, but rather the cropping of the mountain tops.

We tend to expect to see the complete thing, but within certain categories that have been culturally defined over the years. A head and shoulders portrait would probably show great tension in a society that always expected to see the whole human figure. Some of Cartier-Bresson's portraits create tension by cropping out, say half the head, a technique he seems to have got from the painter Pierre Bonnard who so frequently filled up spare spaces on the canvas with, for example, a dismembered arm, elbow resting on a table, the rest of the person being off the canvas.

In fact, a painting by Pierre Bonnard is not complete if half a foot hasn't been cropped, or an ear or a forehead. A bit disconcerting really.  Smiley

I noticed recently a self portrait by Jonathan Wienke on the Sony F828 thread, demonstrating the qualities of the Canon 35-350 zoom at 70mm. The download stopped just below his eyes. I wasn't sure if this was an attempt at being avant-garde, or just a bug in the system - but it did produce a bit of tension.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2004, 06:20:35 AM »
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Would the contrast between the dunes and the mountains create tension even if the sky had not been cropped out.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2004, 12:00:45 AM »
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I really haven't kept up with my physiology of the visual system, but I doubt that there's any mushiness at the receptor/neural transmission levels. Green sensitive cones fire. Chemical outputs from those cells fire off the neural network to which they are attached. The signal most likely reaches everyone's CNS in the same fashion.

Mushiness might occur in labeling green due to two factors. First a faulty system. Some people are color blind. But let's skip that one.

The second, more probable reason for a mushy definition of 'green' is a cultural mushiness. If your particular culture hasn't found it important to tag the narrow wavelength band of light that we commonly call green you might have trouble labeling it. Perhaps your culture doesn't value 'greenness' enough to label it. The old tale is that the Eskimos so value the different types of snow that they have developed 26 different words for different types when we use only a handful (powder, corn, etc.)

And don't think that those definitions are fixed. Purple, a few centuries ago, was what we now call blue.

Now that we've devised operational definitions of some words (color names, for example) we are less likely to see definitional drift over time.

(And, yes Ray I have learned a few things. And have had some fun...)
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Ray
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« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2004, 09:38:03 PM »
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If we say that the way the smooth dunes are contrasted with the rugged mountains creates a feeling of tension within us, personally, then we have described the image in terms that are less subjective.
I don't get it! An opinion is an opinion, and therefore by definition subjective. People have a habit, on the net, of adding, or beginning a sentence, with IMHO. It took me a while to figure this out. I can assure such people I have no delusions that what they are writing is an opinion; there's or someone elses.

In fact, there is a school of Philosophy that maintains there are "in reality" no facts, but only consensuses of opinion.

There is no total unanimity of opinion on any subject. Of course, it goes without saying, if you want to get an idea of the 'factual' status of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, you have to get an opinion from a Physicist. One should ignore opinions from people who are not likely to have a clue what they are talking about. Also, there are some pretty obvious examples of almost universal agreement on common matters such as; if you stick your hand in a fire it will get burnt, or; if you get shot through the heart with a .45 you'll die. But I wouldn't be too surprised if there are sometimes exceptions even to these seemingly obvious effects.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #47 on: January 21, 2004, 11:17:52 AM »
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Over the weekend, my fiance said that Michelangelo's David is a good example of tension.
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boku
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« Reply #48 on: January 03, 2004, 11:24:32 AM »
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Photographically, what is "tension?"
Ambiguous or unresolved environment leaving the mind to wonder and wander.

Result - people ponder the photograph.
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Bob Kulon

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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2004, 01:53:14 AM »
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Bob, I'm not putting words here for Scott, but my take on the word tension in this context is -

The interplay of conflicting elements in a piece of literature, especially a poem.

Which is from dictionary.com most of the other references are about pulling etc.
 
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #50 on: January 08, 2004, 02:01:09 AM »
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Hacking the top off that other photo doesn't add tension, just bad composition. I think it'd be better if he/she re-instated the top.
'bad' in your opinion, composition is subjective not definitive. That you don't like it is obviously causing you some tension  
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #51 on: January 10, 2004, 07:47:56 PM »
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Tension seems to be there when the excluded is drawing your attention, maybe because we don't know what to expect. Or am I in the wrong place?
Not in the wrong place, just stuck in an age-old problem.

Trying to use poorly defined terms is a real bear. Without standardized definitions communication is very difficult.

If there were a standard and accepted definition of 'tension' in photography then the discussion could have run a smoother course. If the first person in the door had defined the term then communication would have been cleaner.

There is a very large problem in the 'artsy-fartsy' world in which people show how clever they are by using a not commonly used word to describe how they feel about a painting, sculpture, print, etc. Seems like you get points for being obtuse.

We don't seem to have much trouble deciding whether a print is color or B&W. We've sort of nailed those definitions down.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #52 on: January 12, 2004, 05:02:32 PM »
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Just remember that tension is an ill-defined term.  It means different things to different people.  A picture that leads one person to use the label 'tension' might well lead another person to use the label 'boring'.

Most people probably aren't heavily affected by musical scales.  The best way to bother my mother was to start a scale on the piano beginning with, say, middle C and continue upward to B, omitting the final C note.  

She would have to leave whatever she was doing, come to the piano and play the final C.  Most people wouldn't even notice what, in her, caused great tension.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #53 on: January 13, 2004, 03:44:35 AM »
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I've done some homework on "dynamic tension."  Seems the term is used often but never clearly defined. The closest I can come to is: the photograph, its composition and elements give the viewer the impression of a happening; something is going on.  A sense of movement in a static medium brought about by the various elements in the image and their composition or relationships to one another.

Based on this, perhaps an example would be a still life of a vase of flowers.  Pretty static, as the term still life would indicate. Now place a flower petal as if it had fallen from the flower to the table.  Something happened.  Same kind of hing with a bowl of fruit.  Put an apple on the table nxt to the neat bowl and something happened.

A portrait can be very static, like a mugshot.  But put some dramatic lighting on the subject, turn the head a bit, and somehing happened.  Maybe let some hairfall out of its proper place and cover one eye.

Now getting back to the dunes.  Perhaps if the entire scene is shown, the scene becomes static and documentss a place - Death Valley and the dunes.  Crop out some of the environment, the shape of the dunes and curving lines show motion that might be otherwised missed.  Crop out the bit of bland sky to keep the viewer's eyes from coming to rest on an insignificant element - keep the eyes moving.  The viewer focuses on the sand, maye sees ripples created by wind.  Maybe then hears the wind.

The "something happened" doesn't have to be all that unexpected, like the orchastra suddenly jumping from Mozart to AC/DC.  That is a jolt and might be quite unpleasant.  However, composers often use a sudden change in tempo or volume to "jolt" the audience.  Stick a cigar in the pretty girls mouth - something happened and its jolting.  OK if that is what you want, but perhaps a bit heavy handed.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #54 on: January 19, 2004, 03:30:45 AM »
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And yet we still find it hard to put a picture, or the emotion derived from a picture into words. I think this is a good thing, to have it there but at the same time just out of reach.

Can then we agree on what creates tension or is that too just out of reach, as individual as the viewer?
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Ray
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« Reply #55 on: January 19, 2004, 06:54:48 PM »
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How about for purposes of this discussion we agree that we all pretty much agree that the world is 'real', not a fiction in the dream of some amorphous caterpillar in some unknown universe? And let's hold our discussion to what is normally seen by physiologically intact adult humans.
Bobtrips,
I assure you I wasn't trying to imply that the world might be a fiction in the dream of an amorphous caterpillar, but rather a fiction in our own dreams and imagination, to at least some extent.

The point I'm trying to make with this little excursion is how very, very difficult it would be to apply precisely defined terms to completely subjective experiences, given human variability.

On the matter of how we perceive color, we tend to assume that people are either color blind or not, and if they're not color blind, they will experience color exactly as we do. That's a bit like saying, you're either healthy or you're not, you're either tall or short, you're either fat or slim.

Common sense would tell me that the relatively few words we have (or at least use) for shades of green, for example, might indicate that uniformity of experience at even this basic level is not as great as we like to imagine, but we don't realise this because the terms we use for a particular colour are so broadly defined, like the word 'tension', that it gets us in the ball park.

When I first started using Photoshop, I was a bit mystified when attempting to increase the saturation of green foliage, using the Hue/Sat control and eyedropper, to discover that what I thought was green (would even swear was green) was in fact yellow or yellow 2, according to Photoshop.  Huh
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2004, 01:30:26 AM »
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And maybe the emotion you feel looking at the picture, here a much better example!
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #57 on: January 06, 2004, 08:09:38 PM »
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Scott - please define the word 'tension' in terms of the lake picture.  I'd like to know what you're talking about.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #58 on: January 07, 2004, 02:24:19 PM »
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Well said Bob.

1)  Anyone who puts their image in public should be open to critiques, good, bad or otherwise.

2)  "Taste is indisputable."
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #59 on: January 08, 2004, 04:16:14 PM »
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Then who is the judge of what is good and what is bad. It is not the meter of a poemthat makes it good but the effect it has on listeners or readers.

In Dead Poest Society - Williams has the students rip out the pages defining 'good' because good is not measured on a scale. If you want to admire Jackson Polluck do it because it moves you, not because your told it is good.
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