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Composition - How do you approach it in your photography?
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Jun 5, 2021 22:31:47   #
srt101fan
 
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?

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Jun 5, 2021 22:41:47   #
PixelStan77 Loc: Vermont/Chicago
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


I Look for beauty and emotion and impact. That is what I want to I want to create

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Jun 5, 2021 22:56:26   #
Orphoto Loc: Oregon
 
I regard all 'rules" as guidelines. Usually I look for a pleasing interplay or balance among the subjects.

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Jun 5, 2021 22:57:20   #
Longshadow Loc: Audubon, PA, United States
 
Back in the mid 70s I read books by Kodak, Feininger, and a couple of others.
Yes, I use those guidelines in composing my shots. I start there and then adjust my view to what I like the most.
No, I do not follow the "guidelines" without question, they are simply starting points.
Never did the spiral thingy...

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Jun 5, 2021 23:21:33   #
hoola
 
When looking at things(aka composing) I try to not see them literally. Instead I try to see them as shapes & colors & tones . I try to think abstractly . For me subject matter/content is less important then image . It is just a means to an end .

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Jun 6, 2021 01:53:06   #
Wallen
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


I have 3 main considerations when taking a photo;

A. Shoot to Purpose is when I have a specific purpose for the photo.

B. Make a Hero, is when I strive to make every element included in the image support a singular thought, element or element group. This is to intentionally create a story, tension or support to make the hero element stand out more.

C. Rule of shadows. This is my very own formula. The point here is to make each elements still be recognizable even if they are viewed as a single element.


As for composition rules, there really are none. They are just guides. But for ease of description and planning, I divide the actual practice of composition to 3 main groups namely;

1. Vertices are line, shape & structure types of arrangement.
2. Visual are contrast, color & texture type of composition.
3. Visceral are those that tell stories, evoke emotion, movement, time and so on.

Although this 3 groups can be arranged to work together, I will often use only one as my guide because most of the time, a singular direction of focus creates a more solid & pleasing composition.

.

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Jun 6, 2021 04:23:28   #
Gene51 Loc: Yonkers, NY, now in LSD (LowerSlowerDelaware)
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


Edward Weston wrote the most important rule of composition:

"Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph, is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk."

https://digital-photography-school.com/lessons-masters-of-photography-edward-weston/

Clearly his photography often violated these rules.

My preference is to let the image reveal itself - but it requires rethinking how you see (and use all of your senses), and what you want others to see in the image you capture.

https://kimberlypoppe.com/blog/what-is-contemplative-photography-miksang

Images that follow rules of composition are not always successful. Images made using a contemplative approach tend to be more visually impactful and memorable.

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Jun 6, 2021 05:29:30   #
kymarto Loc: Portland OR and Milan Italy
 
I simply put things where they look best to me. Much depends, past "rules", on the balance of objects in the frame

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Jun 6, 2021 05:37:08   #
billnikon Loc: Pennsylvania/Ohio/Florida/Maui/Oregon/Vermont
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


I have the rule of thirds grid lines showing in my viewfinder just as a reminder. I also like leading lines. I think about composition all the time while out with the camera, but first and foremost is how my scene is lite. What is the direction of light and how will it effect my images.
I do not dwell on these things but I am aware of them while I am shooting.



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Jun 6, 2021 05:53:33   #
cameraf4 Loc: Delaware
 
Like you, when I first started out I read a lot of "Do this, do that" books about what "most folks" liked to see in a photograph. Forty-odd years removed from that I honestly don't really think about it now ... like downshifting when approaching a tight turn on the road. What I do seems to come naturally. Sometimes people like the results.

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Jun 6, 2021 06:08:03   #
nervous2 Loc: Provo, Utah
 
I remember the rules and then try to compose in the viewfinder in accord with what I think looks best.

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Jun 6, 2021 06:49:19   #
ClarkJohnson Loc: Fort Myers, FL and Cohasset, MA
 
I am slowly moving beyond the « what looks good to me » stage. My particular bugaboo is sunset. As striking as the display the mother nature gives us everyday, the world simply does not need another boring sunset photograph. What can I do to make the image interesting? What visual element is unique enough to catch the eye, to humanize the image? I can’t say that I am any good at this, but it’s what I think about these days.

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Jun 6, 2021 06:52:59   #
Architect1776 Loc: In my mind
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


When it looks good in the viewfinder, subconsciously perhaps the rules are there but not purposely at the forefront as that then would overpower the pleasure and fun of taking the photo.

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Jun 6, 2021 06:53:49   #
Jimmy T Loc: Quicksburg, Virginia
 
srt101fan wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion of "composition" on UHH, including a topic I started some time time ago. I just got done perusing a book called "The Art of Pictorial Composition", so the subject is on my mind again.

Some folks seem to equate "composition" with the content or subject of a photo. That's not what I'd like to discuss. I just pulled a definition of the web that's in line with what I'm thinking about:

"The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another....the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about." (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-art-of/9781457117916/ch16.html)

There are "rules" of composition - the rule of thirds, spirals, etc. Books are written about it and photography courses address it. So what I'd like to know is how you approach composition in your photography. Do you consciously think of and apply "rules" (guidelines) of composition or do you just move the camera until the image looks good in the viewfinder? From a compositional standpoint, what do you think about when you approach a subject?
There has been a lot of discussion of "compos... (show quote)


Aside from the obvious rules of thirds, level horizon, avoiding bull's eye, and such. Mostly I strive to make a picture look attractive and tell a story. I love bright colors and contrasts. I shoot things that catch my eye, usually on the fly. When I shoot a calendar I just love having several strong pics in a seasonal collage to tell a story so that you don't get bored looking at the same pic for a whole month. I also often (Pre-COVID) shoot (candid) events for our church and make 20 X 30" collages for display during the "following week". Creatively, I shoot landscapes, low light, and document our travel with pics of scenes that really stand out to me. I like to include random unidentifiable folks in my pics to lend depth and scale. Early on I would wait for an hour to record a street scene free of people (anachronisms) in Colonial Williamsburg (CW), and other historic places. Now, years later, if I had included folks, I could look back at those of those same scenes, and see a bonus of how people dressed while visiting CW during that era. I also find that another huge shortcoming that I have is that I rarely move (or remove) anything within a scene to help with composition, even a "loose impediment" as they say in golf circles. Also, there are places where you might be confronted if you touch or move something.
I know that as soon as I hit the "send" button below, I will think of many other things to point out, or a better way to explain what my true thoughts are. That and my second cup of coffee might cause me to hit the "update" button, grin. Thank you for posting such a thought-provoking question. This question has forced me to examine my methods and provoked an almost cathartic self-response, shared only with my UHH Friends. I'm pretty sure that the next time I go shooting I will . . .
Smile,
JimmyT Sends

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Jun 6, 2021 06:56:40   #
Jimmy T Loc: Quicksburg, Virginia
 
billnikon wrote:
I have the rule of thirds grid lines showing in my viewfinder just as a reminder. I also like leading lines. I think about composition all the time while out with the camera, but first and foremost is how my scene is lite. What is the direction of light and how will it effect my images.
I do not dwell on these things but I am aware of them while I am shooting.


Very well put, and such a wonderful example, wow!
Smile,
JimmyT Sends
Bravo Zulu

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