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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGrosjean View Post
    You just made my day.

    The above is the advice I dish out to people asking about composition and learning to photograph well. Photography is closely related to painting in the composition, we're just using different instruments to actually play the final score.

    Course, nobody ever actually visits the museums and studies the things I suggest, but I keep on giving the same advice....
    amen to the both of you..... i am a great fan of the 'new objective' art movement where painting and photography met pretty much on equal terms for a brief period...spend some time with the paintings of Dix, Schlicter, Grosz et al, and i promise you, your photography will never be the same. associated photographers include the immortal August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt and Albert Renger-Patzsch.

    wayne

  2. #32
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    I think that John Shaw's photographs in his photo books are useful to look at. Donald Miller's photos on the gallery are instructive. Inernet galleries of famous photographers are helpful. I like all the Ansel Adams books. Also, zipping through the APUG galleries allows you to quickly see what catches your eye and what does not. Then slow down and study why that is so.

    Of course, some of this just depends on what you like. For example some people seem really excited about muddy platinum prints or random pinhole camera shots. Likewise ULF contact prints with minimal depth of field and bokeh. To each his own but if you study what you don't like you can learn also.
    Jerold Harter MD

  3. #33

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    Any rules of composition no matter where one finds them (books, museums, workshops etc.) are made to be broken. My mentors in photography all instructed me to just "really" look at the world around me. If it looks good to one's eye, it is worth recording on film. Save your money on books and workshops and just shoot a lot. Your compositional "eye" will develop its own style.

    Walker
    Last edited by PhotoHistorian; 08-12-2007 at 08:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #34
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoHistorian View Post
    Any rules of composition no matter where one finds them (books, museums, workshops etc.) are made to be broken. My mentors in photography all instructed me to just "really" look at the world around me. If it looks good to one's eye, it is worth recording on film. Save your money on books and workshops and just shoot a lot. Your compositional "eye" will develop its own style.

    Walker

    I'm with PhotoHistorian on this subject. Composition is a very subjective issue, look at the number of difference suggestions and recommendations from this short thread. In my early days I was given similar advice to what PhotoHistorian received and I have used it ever since. When I'm asked about composition when I teach workshops I simply tell photographers to go out and make photographs and arrange the elements where they feel comfortable with them and regardless of where they are placed make the exposure.

    I also suggest that we should look at the use of light and how it affects the subject we are photographing. In this respect I have looked at many photographers and painters work, my favorites are Rhembrandt and the impressionist artists such as Turner.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  5. #35

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    I like looking at paintings and other photographs but I found that if I studied them I started to think like them. I did not like the feeling. Here is what a painter/sculptor I know told me.

    If something catches your eye, stop and figure out what about it caught you. It was not just the color, or the texture. You saw the painting/photograph at the time it caught your eye. Once you figure out what caught your eye you are well on your way to creating your own stuff.

    I have been doing this ever since. Haven't made it yet, but it keeps me thinking about me and how I see.

    I have read Freeman Patterson's books and love his composition. Yeah, he prints with ink but so what, the images rock. If you need to read something I recommend his instructional series.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  6. #36
    patrickjames's Avatar
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    Patrick's rule of composition-

    If it looks good it is good.

    Patrick

  7. #37

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    I think that I've learned as much about composition in the darkroom as under the darkcloth. Not just "how to crop" but "if I'd only gotten a little more (or a little less) of that "whatever it is" in the frame to balance the picture. That sort of thing.

  8. #38
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    (Think about how to put someting into empty space.)

    I like this, negative space surrounding a main interest point is very important to me , I think by looking at the edges inward and considering image placement to its surroundings is critical. A blank white sky in itself can create a beautiful form surrounding a bag of potatoes.
    A finely crafted photograph always has good negative/secondary space.

    Quote Originally Posted by catem View Post
    I hope I'm not going to offend anyone by saying I'm not altogether sure you can 'learn' composition. But if you're not happy with what you're doing - indeed for no particular reason, or all possible reasons, look at as much great art and great photography as you can. I think learning by osmosis is as helpful, or more helpful than learning or following any 'rules'.

    Best of all, take a life drawing class, or possibly any drawing class, make yourself think about how to put something into empty space.

  9. #39
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    Another interesting art-historical exercise to tackle is to look at original "great masters" paintings and then examine their copies. It is interesting to see how the copies evolve over time, and the way they diverge from the originals. Sometimes the copies end up becoming masterworks in their own right, but oftentimes they're just second, third or even fourth-tier period works. Observe the differences and why the lesser copies are lesser- not just in terms of technical paint application skill, but the changes in gesture, pose, and expression of the subject. It is amazing how much a little quirk in the positioning of something simple like a hand, or a shadow cast by a tree or rock or cloud can totally alter the mood of an image.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie View Post
    (Think about how to put someting into empty space.)

    I like this, negative space....
    A finely crafted photograph always has good negative/secondary space.
    I think Bob has it!
    Creative composition comes out of our right brain (when we use that side) when judging spacial relationships in three dimensions. Left brain, when we numerically calculate size, or something measured. Negative space is everything in between what we look at and when we see in that way we start to compose. Where are the rules for that?

    We just do it -
    just like birds fly (they don't follow rules, they just do it).
    "Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould

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