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Author Topic: Effective composition  (Read 33871 times)
Scott_H
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« Reply #80 on: January 11, 2004, 03:43:38 PM »
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An image can have tension in it and not be an effective image.  Looking at an image that is not effective, and understanding where the tension comes from can still teach you something.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #81 on: January 18, 2004, 11:03:14 AM »
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This whole discussion was started by Michael's statement that he cropped the dunes the way he did o create "dynamic tension."  Maybe he could tell us what he meant.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #82 on: January 18, 2004, 11:31:41 PM »
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A simple statement such as, "The grass is green", then becomes incorrect, if you want to be specific. There is no evidence to support the theory that grass is green, or that violets are blue, or that fire engines are red. It's all an illusion, my friend.

However, we could make a very specific statement along the lines, "One of the properties of this leaf is its ability to reflect that part of the magnetic spectrum with wavelengths ranging between 500 and 600 nanometers."
Almost, but not quite. "Green" is a term that is specifically linked to light within a specific range of wavelengths. So that is clearly and measureably definable. Where the mushyness comes in is what happens in an individual's brain once light in the "green range" hits the retina and gets traslated into synaptic pulses that go up the optic nerve, and how those signals are perceived and interpreted. Green is a measurably definable concept; the details of how an individual perceives and interprets "green" is currently not.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #83 on: January 13, 2004, 09:26:40 AM »
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Scott, I think not.  A bright bland sky at the top would be a place the eye would go to very quickly and want to stay there instead of on the subject. The composition would be weak and off balance.  When the eye stops moving, the image becomes static.  The viewer might become bored and move on.
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Ray
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« Reply #84 on: January 14, 2004, 12:25:23 AM »
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But we need a consultation fee, paid into my Swiss Bank account. (Only kidding, of course  Cheesy )
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #85 on: January 15, 2004, 12:28:54 PM »
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It is important to know how people "rad" photographs when composing an image.  I think, don't have proof, that that is why such composition fundamentals as the rule of thirds or the golden mean work.  Not they define how to compose but describe how people view photographs.  The size, shape, color and relative brightness are also important to composition because of how people perceive these things.

Undersatnding these "rules" or principles also allows artists to break them creatively.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #86 on: January 19, 2004, 02:16:06 PM »
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The current front pge photo - Masai waiting - is a very effect composition.  The stripes of horizonal land form about thirds.  The tree is located at about the third point and cuts all three horizonatl stripes.  The colors are very mild and pleasing.  Then you see - can't help it - the red and blue of the figures.  The eye is drawn to the figures by the colors.  While the figure are small (which lends to the feeling of size), it appears they are engaged in a somewhat animated conversation - hands moving.  Something is happening in the very static environment.  The sense of something happening is what I now think of as dynamic tension.  A huge quiet environment with some colorful animated figures.  Very good photo.  I call this wall art.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #87 on: January 19, 2004, 06:16:00 PM »
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That bottom left thing happened as your assessment of the scene (image) – it is how you found the red, it is so fast you'll almost not notice if you watch for it - and being a personal action not everyone will cooperate! But everybody will visually asses the scene in a consistent process before they perceive an element of the scene!

What, however is important, and we all seem to agree on is that photo creates some tension, a question that drew us further into the picture. And maybe they were deciding on the model fees to charge that rich Canadian photographer
 
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Ray
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« Reply #88 on: January 06, 2004, 07:51:37 AM »
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 There's no "What's around the corner?" feeling in it for me.
That's because what's round the corner, in the other one, is revealed in the reflections. Michael's is perhaps a better example of tension.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #89 on: January 08, 2004, 06:31:55 PM »
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Look, there are rules and there are rules.  In photography the rules are generalizations that might help you to make images that you like better than what you have been making.

"Rule of Thirds", "If the picture doesn't grab you, you weren't close enough".  Good rules.  Learn 'em, try 'em out.

But they don't always make the best[/i]picture in the eye of every viewer.  Sometimes I stick a face dead center of a shot because I feel it gives more power.

And some people may hate the shot for a variety of reasons.

Tastes vary.  Go figure....
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Ray
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« Reply #90 on: January 09, 2004, 09:16:03 PM »
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I think tension is something that probably makes people feel uncomfortable and something people feel they want to avoid.  
Not at all. Tension is part of dynamism, activity in general, and the meaning of life. Complete lack of tension is synonymous with death, or at best a Yogi meditating in a cave.

Tension is very evident in modern (serious) music. Wagner was one of the first serious composers to stretch 'tension' to the limits. Jazz composers do it quite often. They start off in a well defined key, then wander off over the whole world, leaving the listener in a state of suspended animation, till finally they end up where they started from, making us feel quite 'resolved'  Cheesy .
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #91 on: January 11, 2004, 03:09:24 PM »
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My wife and I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art.  There in the middle of one room was an area roped of with orange cones and yellow tape.  In the middle of that on the floor was an elctrical outlet with the insides pulled out and wires exposed.   I knew it was time to leave when we couldn't decide whether it was an exhibit or a wiring repair.  Because I haven't forgotten that experience and still wonder but know, was it "art choked full of tension?"

During that same visit, I saw several photographs of gas stations on the wall.  They were flat (low contrast), not well printed and needed to be spotted very badly.  They were junk.  Did they have tension because I had no idea how such bad work gets displayed?
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Ray
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« Reply #92 on: January 13, 2004, 08:39:30 PM »
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For me, the photo is improved merely by flipping it horizontally. The tree is then on the left and leads one into the rest of the image. The relatively bright sky on the right then becomes less of a problem. The fact that the tree is out of focus causes me some concern. I don't want it to be sharper than the rest of the image, but at least as sharp or almost as sharp, because this is what my eye settles on first.
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Ray
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« Reply #93 on: January 15, 2004, 05:45:48 AM »
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they often begin in the lower left and take an anti clockwise curve round the image back to the lower left.
Victor,
How often? The only clear example I can find demonstrating eye 'scanpaths' on a typical photograph can be found at:-

http://www.youramazingbrain.org.uk/newrese.../issue2_2+3.pdf

In this example, the eye begins its journey on a roof top, upper left, moves on to a brighter spot diagonally upwards, does a bit of a clockwise turn, then a counterclockwise turn as it moves to the lower portion of the picture and onwards.

I think it's going to be too simplistic to describe one particular path. It's going to vary enormously with the composition of the image and with the individual viewer, but it seems clear (for Westerners at least) there's a broad movement from left to right.

This can be demonstrated most graphically by imagining a set of unattached stairs in the shape of a triangular block. If the lowest step is at the lower left of the page and the highest step at upper right of page, then the viewer is likely to describe the object as a set of ascending stairs.

If the image is flipped horizontally so the lowest step is at the bottom right of the page and the highest step is top left of the page, the viewer is then likely to describe what he's seeing as a set of descending stairs.

However, for Arabs (assuming literacy and not too Westernised) the reverse descriptions would apply because they read from right to left.

The Chinese situation is interesting because traditionally they read in columns from top to bottom and right to left but have also adopted Western methods of left to right. So in Taiwan, so I believe, street names are sometimes written left to right, or right to left, or top to bottom.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #94 on: January 16, 2004, 12:26:00 PM »
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My point and question is where is the research on composition and interpretation of a picture, I would like to learn more, and more?

Victor, my fiance has a background in art, and teaches art in public school.  I have been pilfering her collection of books.  Most of them are geared towards painting or drawing, but I think the same rules apply.  A lot of the techniques go back hundreds of years.

Most of the books specific to photography seem to be geared towards the technical aspects.  There is usually one or two pages that describe the rule of thirds, and the rest is on cameras, shutter speed and aperture.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #95 on: January 06, 2004, 08:18:15 AM »
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The "reflection" image also has that annoying piece of bland sky.  The only tension I feel is "why?"  It is just another image of a mountain lake.

The Death Valley dunes are one of my favorite places to visit and to photograph.  It is a place to sit and think, or just sit and look and listen.  Because I know what's "up there," I don't wonder, but I do recall.  The image is quiet like the dunes, but I can hear the wind and birds.  I find the image very pleasing.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #96 on: January 08, 2004, 06:06:42 PM »
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Well, I meant

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Tension is when you take something good and screw it up.

vs

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Hacking the top off that other photo doesn't add tension, just bad composition.

My contradiction is, admittedly, open to some interpretation.  Like Art for example.

I've said it before, I am still, and always will be, learning.  I think that if you follow the rules all of the time you probably aren't going to ever create anything new.

On some further thought, I think I find the lake pciture somewhat troubling because I see the mountain as the primary element in the composition.  In the dunes picture the mountains are a secondary element.  My focus is on the dunes themselves, so the fact that mountians are cropped has less of an impact on me.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #97 on: January 10, 2004, 01:32:42 AM »
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I'm interested to see if this tension is just an above thing, is the portrait an exception?

This is a snap of a childs Windmill - tension here?

When the lower margin is cropped as shown  in some Dubai Towers -  tension here?

Off with the top as in the news picture from
London -  tension here?

I'm interested because so few photographers seem to use this...
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #98 on: January 11, 2004, 12:25:41 PM »
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I think that if I study different images and try to understand what makes them effective, then I might get better myself.  Tension is something that I keep hearing about all the time, maybe if I understand it better I will be able to use it as well.  
I think you hit the critical issue in the first quoted sentence.  I've learned a tremendous amount about photographs by spending time viewing photos, reading critiques, and attempting to verbalize my own feelings about the photographs.

I think your second sentence highlights the problem that is created by some critiques.  Words such as 'tension' are very well defined in science, have no fixed meaning in art.  What's tension for you may well not be tension for me.

It's (relatively) easy to describe the physical aspects of a photograph.  It's over-sharpened, well focused, grainy, etc.  Those things are well understood and defined.

But the subjective aspects are difficult, and certainly not universal.  My 'glorious swelling of the soul' feeling is not necessarily your 'glorious swelling of the soul' feeling.

But I can say that the way Michael framed his shot makes me stop and consider the immense differences in textures that exist side-by-side in the natural world.  As long as I describe what I see, how I feel and avoid trying to tag a 'label' I suspect that I can avoid getting caught up in a word war.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #99 on: January 13, 2004, 08:56:13 PM »
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The fallen bits of the house and the tree branches are perpendicular.  My eye moves from left to right along the house bits, and then hits the tree branches.
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