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yelvertoft
13-12-05, 19:55
One of the best composition tutorials I've found in recent times can be read here:
http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Photography_lessons/a_about/_Teaching_composition.html

There's a HUGE amount of web forums that discuss the minutiae of which item of equipment is better than which other very similar item of equipment. There’s very little discussion about composition. You could sit me down in front of the best concert grand piano in the world, but it wouldn’t make me a concert pianist. The same goes with photography, the person behind the lens has a far greater impact on the resulting image than the equipment in their hands. I learned much by reading this article and trying to put the ideas into practice.

Regards,

Duncan.

Annette
14-12-05, 10:58
Hi Duncan
I totally agree with you. The techniques of photography are easy enough to learn but composition is less easy to quantify. I think that some people find it easier than others. I have been an artist all my life and composition has always played a big part in my thinking and what I see. Therefore the transition to photography was easy. The general rule of 2 thirds birds to one third background is a good one. Also when taking a photo think about what your focal point is and how the viewer is going to be led into and around the photo. When taking the photo leave room for experimenting with different crops/compositon within the one photo.

robski
15-12-05, 01:08
Annette

I think most us know when we have taken a good shot that "fits" a good composition with little effort. When you look at a subject which is more awkward are you able in most cases to find a good composition or are there a lot of times when you have to walk away and say it's no good.

Rob

Annette
15-12-05, 10:26
Annette

I think most us know when we have taken a good shot that "fits" a good composition with little effort. When you look at a subject which is more awkward are you able in most cases to find a good composition or are there a lot of times when you have to walk away and say it's no good.

Rob

Rob I think you would be surprised the number of people that dont see the compositional value in photos. I think over time you amass knowledge and experience through merely doing it and you dont realise it. I dont think that it comes easily.
I think failures in photography are just as valid as successes and it is just as important that you realise when a photo just isnt worth taking.

yelvertoft
15-12-05, 17:06
Rob I think you would be surprised the number of people that dont see the compositional value in photos. I think over time you amass knowledge and experience through merely doing it and you dont realise it. I dont think that it comes easily.
I think failures in photography are just as valid as successes and it is just as important that you realise when a photo just isnt worth taking.

Spot on Annette! It certainly doesn't come easily. Also agree strongly that failures are important. The "Critique" sub section is the ideal place to discuss ones failures. It isn't easy to know what you've done wrong even though you know it isn't right. Having a fresh pair of eyes look at your work will usually give that insight. I found it v. useful to post there.

Duncan.

dv2
13-01-06, 20:31
Duncan, thanks for the link. Very good story to read. I struggle a lot with finding good compositions. Problem is just that I shouldn't be looking for it. One of my own favorite pictures I just "snapshotted". It was snowing and I didn't want my camera out in the snow for too long.

http://www.worldphotographyforum.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=517&cat=500&ppuser=422

I should just go out and enjoy it more, rather than looking for the ultimate composition.

Danny.

Adey Baker
13-01-06, 21:10
Duncan, thanks for the link. Very good story to read. I struggle a lot with finding good compositions. Problem is just that I shouldn't be looking for it. One of my own favorite pictures I just "snapshotted". It was snowing and I didn't want my camera out in the snow for too long.

http://www.worldphotographyforum.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=517&cat=500&ppuser=422

I should just go out and enjoy it more, rather than looking for the ultimate composition.

Danny.

Yes, you instinctively know when you've got a good shot right without studying the composition techniques. Everything about that photo looks just right

dv2
13-01-06, 22:55
this site has already been mentioned in the first post in this thread, but this is good reading material:
http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Photography_lessons/c_Lesson_2/_Simplification.html

I've been reading it all evening!

Annette
13-01-06, 23:04
I think that to some extent some compositions come naturally. Dv2 you may well have just snapped the photo but some decision no matter how self conscious probably made you take it in a certain way.
I totally agree with you. Photography should be all about having fun and getting out there and enjoying it. We all see and are inspired by different things. A friend that i go out with sees compositions wereever he goes whereas I tend to see things more in the nature of colours and then compositions. I have been an artist all my life so looking for a composition is something that i just cannot turn off but we all learn it in our own time. By taking lots of photos we learn (even if we dont realise it) what works and what doesnt. Try lots of different things. It is lifes best teacher :)

Christine
13-01-06, 23:35
Much is being said re composition and rule of 2thirds etc,but that cannot always apply to bird shots.Until now all my bird shots have been dead centre,as I always use one red focal point as I only want the bird and not the surroundings.The exception being groups of birds,or a shore bird on a rock or amongs't the seaweed etc.But having studied the comments made on various posts I do now try to position my subject to one side.But all in all,I like to take a good bird portrait which shows the plumage details etc,and invariably it is in the centre.But I did learn something from this months Birdwatching mag.The comp results were published,for the Bird Photographers of the year etc,and it was mentioned that the judges were looking for someting other than just plain bird portraits,ie action type shots.This has made me think re my photography,but sometimes one is restricted to ones own limitations.

Annette
13-01-06, 23:49
Whatever someones photographic experience Christine it doesnt mean you cant experiment and break out of the rut. With bird photos I think it very much depends on the type of shot you want. ALot of people do want the in your face up close bird shot only and there is nothing wrong with this shot. I do these kind of shots sometimes myself but I think if you are looking for more inspiration in your photos you have to break out of that mould. The two thirds rule applies to the composition of the photo, mostly in the editing not in the taking of the photo itself. If you have a certain photo in mind then you photograph the bird with enough space in your background to allow for experimenting with diferrent crops. It is amazing that by slightly altering a composition you can totally change the feel of a photo. This applies to any photo not just birds. Go on christine give it a try ;)

Christine
14-01-06, 00:00
Strangely,Annette,I sometimes feel that the "in your face " close ups of birds is somewhat off putting.I have viewed many bird shots,and although one always seems to strive for the ultimate close up,I do like the shots of birds taken in their natural habitat.But with the onset of high powered zoom lenses etc,we all seem to want the closest ,mosy highly zoomed in shot we can obtain.A couple of years ago I took a pic of some ringed plovers on the shore line amids't the rocks and sand,and it is one of my fav photos.Somewhat dark,but it showed the birds in their natural environment foraging for food .But I am as guilty as the next person trying to aim for the max close up of the bird.Then again,they are so small in the distance ,if one does not use a good zoom lens then they cannot be seen.Cannot win!!!

Annette
14-01-06, 00:08
I think the power of the zoom should be used not to get the greatest detail possible but merely as a way of getting closer to the bird without spooking it. I might take a couple of close ups of a bird if it is there but I much prefer to pull my zoom back and place it in its habitat.To me the camera and resulting photograph should be a way of expressing yourself and showing the beauty of the bird and nature. An in your face photo is more like a lesson in ornithology.

snapper
14-01-06, 04:41
Duncan, appreciate you raising the topic. Perhaps composition is a greater challenge for the photographer than for the painter who can more easily manipulate the scene using tone and hue, soft and hard edges, light and shade, relocating objects etc. Filters, lens choice, lighting etc can all aid composition but maybe the photographer may still need to resort to Photoshop or similar to achieve better composition. Personally, I feel that it's valuable to understand classic composition but surely there are impressive and very pleasing images that break the classical rules.
Ian of Seaham

Annette
14-01-06, 09:44
I couldnt agree with you more snapper. I am always one for trying to break the rules ;) and so should everyone else. Do not be afraid to break the mould!

robski
14-01-06, 10:14
A clump of flowers are my worst nightmare. You would find a clump of buttercups, daisies or poppies that catch the eye and you stop to see if you can get a shot which reflects the reason why you stopped to look at them in the first place. No matter what angles or grouping you try you can never find one I am happy with.

The attached is such a clump of poppies in a field. In the end I gave up and took a shot of the clump which does not work either.

yelvertoft
14-01-06, 13:39
I'm really, really encouraged that this thread has continued and people are talking about this, discussing composition, discussing what works for them and what doesn't. People will become far better photographers as a result. Far more productive than endless debate over which piece of equipment is better than which.

Duncan.

Adey Baker
14-01-06, 13:42
A clump of flowers are my worst nightmare. You would find a clump of buttercups, daisies or poppies that catch the eye and you stop to see if you can get a shot which reflects the reason why you stopped to look at them in the first place. No matter what angles or grouping you try you can never find one I am happy with.


Agree 100%! When I bought my first proper macro lens about 20 years ago wild flowers were top of my agenda before butterflies or dragonflies. I've always found it difficult to get 'The' shot.

Nigel G
14-01-06, 18:16
The attached is such a clump of poppies in a field. In the end I gave up and took a shot of the clump which does not work either.


Being pretty new to the theory side but very keen to learn I've made a start on the link Yelvertoft started this thread off with which is excellent. It occured to me that is is as well to work out why a shot doesn't work to improve my chance of seeing one that does. So my deductions thus far as to why Robski's shot doesn't really work is because it is difficult to tell what is "subject" and what is "ground".

Would you agree and if not why not?

Is there anything that would make it work - perhaps if there was a subject (dog, sheep, pheasant or something) in the upper left third would that help.

Annette
14-01-06, 19:02
I think fields of red poppies are so very difficult because of the colour. No doubt it was their eye catching colour against the perfect complimentary backdrop of the golden corn that really caught your eye but capturing that can be hard. Do you go for the full scene to capture the colour or do you lose the impact and go in closer? I think with photos like this you do need to be clear just what was your motivation for taking the photos in the first place. I think robs photo doesnt work because it does neither show the full impact of the colour nor close in on a more detailed portrait and so as he says he has lost what he was looking for in the first place.
I often find with composition that if you really have to stand and study a particular scene then it will never work as well as one that hits you immediatly.