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Author Topic: Effective composition  (Read 33420 times)
Howard Smith
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« Reply #100 on: January 14, 2004, 01:19:35 PM »
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I don't have the resources or interest to do the suggested experiment.  But, two questions.  Do people who read right to left look at photos the same way people who read left to right?  If a page shown to me, how do I first learn it is a photo so I can start start at the lower right, or a page of text so I can start at the upper left?  You have to start somewhere.

Also I do not agree that people look at the entire photo before going to the bright spots.  No matter where you start, the eye will see the bright spot and go directly to it.

Look at bill boards.  They must capture one's attention very quickly and get the message accross very quickly - a few seconds at most.  Where do they put the text on a photo.  I don't see many with the text in the lower right corner.

Print ads are a bit different because they have a little more time to capture the audience.  But not much.  If the text is at the bottom, the photo must be a real eye catcher.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #101 on: January 16, 2004, 12:05:24 PM »
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I am conscious that we fall into a trap - perception is reality, so we think a rule works, but only have each others opinion as validation. For example I recall that Kodak did a study on color that indicated we see color in a context to the other colors it is with not by the absolute color! They had done a huge amount of research before they even posed this ‘idea’.
And folks continue to use the word 'tension' as if it had been firmly defined, had real meaning in the context of photography.  

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Kodak could have benefited by doing a literature review.  Psychologists working in the field of human perception demonstrated that phenomenon decades, many decades, ago.

Or they could have just asked people who mat pictures....
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #102 on: January 07, 2004, 01:12:45 PM »
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"The interplay of conflicting elements in a piece of literature, especially a poem."

Let me start by saying that I'm a bit uncomfortable critiquing the lake/mountain shot as I'm not sure who the photographer is and whether he/she wanted that to happen to his/her shot.

Nevertheless, let me charge forth....  

Personal preferences can be vastly different, and there's just no accounting for the differences.  Some people really love those Robert Kincaid (sp?) and 'big-eyed kid' paintings.  The lake/mountain shot does nothing for me.  For someone else it might be the best thing since pre-plucked chickens.

I get no feeling of tension (as defined above) from this shot.  In fact, I find this shot rather disappointing.  

Not only is there a bit of meaningless sky in the upper center but there's a bit of distracting purple in the upper right.  That purple isn't large enough or exciting enough to get me to wonder what it is, where it came from.  (It reminds me of unfixed CA.)

The reflection in the water is not detailed enough to give any sense of mystery to the upper peak.  I don't look at it and want to be able to see the top of the undisclosed mountain.  In addition the reflection is disrupted by various and sundry things protruding from the water.  The reflection is cluttered, at least at the size presented.  Maybe a large print would be better.

I don't find any discordant elements.  There's a mountain with a body of water below it.  Common.  Common.  Give me a shot of a camel on an ice flow and I'll be wondering what the #### is going on.  There's nothing discordant or unusual about this image.  My eye isn't drawn from area to area in an attempt to reconcile the differences.

Now when I first glanced at the dune shot the impression was that I was seeing something created by a computer artist in a hurry.  A huge swath of solid vivid color, little detail.  

A second later I'm seeing these incredibly detailed peaks.  Something totally different from the first impression.  That snapped me back a bit.  I experienced an immense "interplay of conflicting elements".

But, hey!, that's just my opinion....            
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Scott_H
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« Reply #103 on: January 09, 2004, 06:13:39 AM »
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I just think it's interesting discussing the two images though.  Maybe I am dissecting things a bit much, but I think I am learning something in the process.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #104 on: January 10, 2004, 12:01:28 PM »
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In both of the building examples, they look as though they are falling over.  While this does create tension, most people would immedaitely claim the image had been badly composed because the buildings are crooked.

I think that people naturally try to acheive balance, and follow rules when they compose an image.  Some of this can be subconcious.  I know I struggle sometimes with trying to crop through an object in an image, even though this can lead to a more effective composition.  My natural tendency is to include the entire object.

Tension can be used to keep people's attention and catch their eye, but I think it is something that most people naturally try to avoid.  When someone composes a photograph, they may naturally try to blance the elements so there is no tension withou really thinking about it.  In the process they may be reducing their chances of creating a more effective image.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #105 on: January 11, 2004, 09:18:34 AM »
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I don't think "tension" is what makes a mediocre photograph (or worse) into something wonderful.  My waste can is full of crummy photos with lots of "tension."  Seems every photo must exclude something.  Show the woman's other eye and then wonder does she have ears.  Where does it end and you admit it is just an mediocre photo?
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Ray
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« Reply #106 on: January 12, 2004, 06:31:27 PM »
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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.

Good point! But I'm not sure most people wouldn't notice that. The final missing semi-tone is not much, for sure, but it's effect is very 'tension' producing for anyone with an ear for music. In fact, there are some good analogies to be drawn from the music world, regarding tension.

Imagine an 18th century audience of the aristocracy, packed into a large drawing room, listening to the mellifluous, harmonius and soothing tones of a Mozart concerto. Imagine a brief pause, then the orchestra launches into an exciting part of the Rite of Spring, or the final few chords of Ravel's Bolero (I'd include some extreme examples of pop music (AC/DC ?) but that would be stretching credulity to the limit).

The effect, I'm sure, would be devastating. The women would suffer from palpitations and headaches for weeks thereafter, the men would engage in law suits against the orchestra (for emotional damage - but perhaps that only applies to modern America) and/or the members of the orchestra would be banished from polite society for ever more.

The purchase of Jackson Pollack's painting 'Blue Poles' in Australia during the Whitlam government era (1970's), caused an outcry. A million dollars for that pile of c**p, many folks said (or thought but didn't say because they were too polite).

Funny thing, art! But science is a bit bizarre at times. Anyone tried to make sense out the theory of Quantum Mechanics, lately?
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Ray
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« Reply #107 on: January 13, 2004, 10:11:48 PM »
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What on earth are you talking about! The fallen bits of the house are at 45 degrees, either way.  Huh  Huh
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #108 on: January 14, 2004, 11:03:41 AM »
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Howard, In my experience people don't read pictures like text, they often begin in the lower left and take an anti clockwise curve round the image back to the lower left. Then they move to the highlights and then shadows.

There is a simple way to see this in action, place a video camera where you can wath the eye movements and hand the person a few photos! You'll not see it with your eyes, slow the video down and then you see the eye movements.

For a sound result you'll need to do 25-100 people!
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #109 on: January 16, 2004, 08:23:08 PM »
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The photo of the lone gnu has the rule of thirds written all over it.  It seems to work quite well and is pleasing.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #110 on: January 19, 2004, 11:14:09 PM »
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Red, he must be dressed for english tea

And as for the .45, From  Woody Allen - Standup Comic - Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet...a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet.

Would there be tension on the picture of the bible at the decisive moment of impact?  Cheesy
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #111 on: January 07, 2004, 11:24:53 AM »
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Unresolved tension can lead to frustration.  Rather than get frustrated with the lake image, I just gave up.  No lasting memory.

The dunes may have tension from the cropped peaks, but I don't feel it.  I too like the colors, curves and light on the dunes.  I don't wonder about what isn't there, but keep moving around what is there.  It's an image of the dunes, not the dunes and mountains in the background.  Someone here said perfection is when there is nothing left to remove.  The mountains would have added nothing to the dunes, except to perhaps help identify where they are.  There is no need to know this is Death Valley.  No caption needed to explain the image.  It doesn't matter which dunes they are.  The image is about shapes, light and color.  Perhaps that is why Michael found the bland sky annoying and removed it.

Ansel Adams did this.  I love his image of cliffs and snow reflected in a mountan lake.  I never really knew (or cared) where it was.  But one day, I found myself sitting and looking at that exact scene in Kings Canyon.  Wow, did that make an impression.  I just sat and looked.  Now THAT is a great photograph.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #112 on: January 11, 2004, 09:06:47 AM »
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If I look at the phjotograph of the monument in London, and consider what it would look like if the pillar wwere parallel to the frame; would it have the same impact.  I don't think it would.  The composition would be more static, and wouldn't hold my attention as long.  Even if I don't really care for a photograph overall, it can still have tnesion in it.

I understand the subjective nature of the topic very well.  Even if there was way to quantify tension, it wouldn't neccesarily lead to better images.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I think that if I study different images and try to understand what meks 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.  It's pretty competitive out there, and technical proficiency is not going be enough to make my images stand out and get attention.  I need to get better at the artistic side as well, a lot better.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #113 on: January 12, 2004, 09:25:20 PM »
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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.
Self-Portrait

It is a print-sized file, so viewing on a 1600x1200 monitor will only show the upper right quadrant of my hat unless you engage the scroll bars. It's not intended as an exercise in tension, unless you are on a dial-up connection!
 
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #114 on: January 09, 2004, 12:23:49 AM »
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So what is important is that both photos are liked, and disliked. regardless of the rules - just enjoy another persons view  Cheesy
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #115 on: January 10, 2004, 12:44:07 PM »
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Well Ray, we see the car-Eiffel Tower and the woman's portrait quite differently.  I am not familiar enough with Citroen autos to know that is the kind of car it is.  So, as an ad, it doesn't sell me a car any more than it does the camera it was taken with.   No, I don't wonder what drama may be playing out on the top of the Tower, any more than I wonder if there is a dead body in the trunk.

Now the woman's portrait.  It is a nice picture, not uch more.  No, I don't need to see her other eye.  I am willing to assume it looks very much like the one I can se and I don't wonder if she has a glass eye or a shiner.  I am willing to assume she also has two ears, two arms and two legs but don't need to see them.

Neither photo is what I call "wall art."  I can't imagine hanging either in my home.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #116 on: January 13, 2004, 11:55:12 PM »
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Maybe it's just me.  I see two big bits of house leaning from the bottom left to the top right.  The tree on the right of the frame kind of goes from the bottom right to the top left.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #117 on: January 14, 2004, 10:34:24 AM »
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It is interesting that Ray suggested flipping the image horizontally.  People who read text left to right tend to read photos the same way.  Starting at the left, the eye immediately runsinto the bright sky behind the trees.  Bright means stop.  So it is hard for us left-to-righters to find your way across the scene.  Then the bright window in the center s another "go here and stop" point.  All in all, I don't think the scene flows to well even though there is some movement.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #118 on: January 16, 2004, 02:01:28 PM »
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Try "The Art of Photographing Nature" by Art Wolfe and Martha Hill.  A little bit on rule of thirds and lts on effective composition for various effects.  It already assumes you know how to use a camera.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #119 on: January 19, 2004, 10:15:45 PM »
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Ray, you say "Schzooom!  Straight to the figures in red."  Schzooom from where?  Certainly not the lower right corner.  I tried to be fair and I think the first thing I stop at is the top part of the tree, then the figures below.  I still say "Schzooom.  From the upper left to the tree top to the red."

As for what they are talking about.  I know.  It is their modeling fee.  Now, what are you going to do with that bit of information?  It is useless in the context of the photo, just as the photo being taken is of no consequence to the figures, so who really cares.  Might as well wonder who the tailor was that whipped up the red garment.  And why red?
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