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  1. #21
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Are the 'rules' codified conventions that becomed aped by repitition or are they ways of describing what is observed to work in terms of putting the eye/brain into a zone of comfort?

    I would argue that while they tend to become the former, they usually begin as the latter.
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  2. #22
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh View Post
    First off, there are NO RULES when it comes to making art, so if your out photographing and find yourself wondering where you should put the horizon line in your picture and then you remember "OH! The rule of thirds!",
    Try looking at your image on this site: http://photoinf.com/Golden_Mean/photo-adjuster.html. I think you will find your attached image follows the Golden Mean a lot closer than you realize.

    I agree with Roger, however, I don't like refer to them as "rules", I would prefer to think of them as "principles". The "Rule of Thirds" is just one, there are others. Most of these have been known from ancient Greek times, and have stood the test of time, simply because it brings about order, which the human mind seems to crave. Just like without realizing it your image follows the Golden Mean.
    Robert M. Teague
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    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  3. #23
    Sparky's Avatar
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    that's just dumb. i'm not into astrology either.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by roteague View Post
    Try looking at your image on this site: http://photoinf.com/Golden_Mean/photo-adjuster.html. I think you will find your attached image follows the Golden Mean a lot closer than you realize.

    I agree with Roger, however, I don't like refer to them as "rules", I would prefer to think of them as "principles". The "Rule of Thirds" is just one, there are others. Most of these have been known from ancient Greek times, and have stood the test of time, simply because it brings about order, which the human mind seems to crave. Just like without realizing it your image follows the Golden Mean.
    That is really quite interesting. I've never seen or even heard of the "golden mean", but according to the little lines it drew on my image, I guess it fits.

    I will tell you why I settled on that exact composition, and it was not because of any rules. I think what originally caught my eye was the visual relationship between the circle and star, and the circle with the line, however after looking through the camera, I realized there was much more to the image then that. If I had moved the camera even 1mm down, I would have lost those three screws in the top right corner, along with the little 45 degree angle in that corner and cropping into the circle of the star. If I had moved the camera up a hair, I would have cropped into that hindge in the bottom left corner, and I did not want that. If the camera was pointed anymore to the right, I would have cropped that one screw that is right in the center of the image on the left edge of the print, and I did not want that. Moving the camera to the left would have removed the two shapes that exist in both the top and bottom right corners.

    So, these are the reason of composition on why this picture had to be EXACTLY this. I was not being influence by any rules or golden means, but rather just the act of looking through the camera's ground glass and seeing what was there. With any scene, there is endless possiblities, but for me...this was the exact photograph I wanted to create.

  5. #25
    MattKing's Avatar
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    This is going back to the depths of time for me, so apologies if I haven't remembered this correctly.

    There are essentially two processes available to aid in developing rules - inductive, and deductive.

    The inductive processes are the ones where you produce rules based on observations of recurring patterns. IMHO, all rules respecting composition are inductive in nature.

    A rule formulated using induction is, paradoxically, both more useful, and less likely to be "true" than one arrived at by deduction. More useful, because it is likely to incorporate more observations, but less likely to be "true" because it is based more on likelihood, than observable certainties.

    Matrix metering is essentially an inductive process.

    There is a very large likelihood that if the composition of a photograph is satisfying, than it is consistent with other photographs that previously were deemed to be satisfying.

    You don't have to be aware of the rules themselves, to be aware of the images that are consistent with them.

    You probably do have to be aware of them, however, in order to effectively break them.

    Matt

  6. #26
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh View Post
    Roger,

    I think a good place to start when making a photograph is just by seeing. The reason I say seeing and not looking is because all to often a photographer is influence by that in which they already know and that in which they have already seen in the past. Therefore, when a photographer goes out looking for photographs, they are only looking for things in which they already know would make a good photograph. In a way, they are just reinforcing what they already know and possibly only recreating what they have already done.
    Very good point. There is a totally different mindset involved in "looking for photographs" and "seeing." The former reinforces preconceptions. The latter stimulates creativity.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  7. #27
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Matt speaks eloquently about the nature of 'rules.' His post and Ryan's description of making a photograph that's consistent with a 'rule' while not being aware of it, are what I was trying to get at earlier.
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  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh View Post
    Attached is an example of a recent photograph I made from my Boneyard series.

    Ryan McIntosh
    www.RyanMcIntosh.net
    Ryan, nice image, however I think it does have a subject, actually two, the star is a prominent element as is the black seam.

    Subtle is very hard to pull off and I think that that is why so many people take note of the lack of a subject in a photo, they are searching for something in the image to hang their hat on. And most of the time a subject less image does not work for them.

    I only have one image that has no subject in it, and it is an image that works well only large. I do not have it on my web site nor do i have it posted here because it simply looks like a mess unless it's large enough to see detail.

  9. #29

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    Your right. Although not very obvious at first, that image I posted does have someone of a focal point.

    This was a topic I was exploring a few months ago when I started creating images from a Littlerock, AR yearbook. Visually, the image explored the idea how a photograph can have somewhat the "all over" texture appearance, but still contain a focal point. There was also an unlying concept behind these images that was created by the placement and construction of the photograph.

    Attached is an example.
    Last edited by User Removed; 09-05-2008 at 10:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #30
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    I think it is crucial first to recognize what the intention of the photograph is before talking about the importance of a clearly defined subject. If the goal is a successful commercial photograph, then yes, there should be an obvious subject, but it might benefit having a not-so-simple design (of course that is all dependant on the companies brand and so forth). If, however, we are talking about photographs as art then I think it is all very personal, and there are only opinions and preferences about the subject. Though I do think it is important to understand what is meant when something is considered a "subtle photograph".

    Subtly in photographs doesn't always have to mean something without a strong sense of obvious composition. It could be like some of the first "all over" photographs by Frederick Sommer-- the Arizona Landscapes of the 1940's-- which paved the way for many of the "all-over" photographs that followed. Or subtlety could mean Callahan's weeds in the snow, or the weeds against the sky. In terms of color, the early work of Joel Meyerowitz is a prime example of success with the use of a subtle pallet (even though I don't agree, it could be said though that is that due to the available materials he was using at the time). Alternatively, subtlety in photographs could be like Jeff Wall's work where the references from art history that influence and inform the work are usually subtle or obscure.

    One of my favorite photographs at the moment is by Robert Adams of his wife pulling stickers out of their dog's feet. It is plate eight in A Portrait in Landscapes. At first glance, it seems like a simple snapshot. But, when I looked closer and noticed the trees and variation of land near the edges of the frame, I saw that the simplicity of the subject was successful because it was supported by the subtle placements on the edges.

    Personally, I prefer photographs that are subtle-- whether it is in terms of the subject, contrast, composition or pallet. For me, there is something about the photographs that don't beat you over the head that lend themselves to be appreciated more over time.

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