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  1. #1
    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    Center composition...

    Some thoughts and questions:

    This is from the copy on the 8x10 competition via WPPI:
    Look at the lighting and posing – your subjects shouldn’t be dead-center in the image, lighting should be subtle – no hot spots or blown-out highlights. And check out your enhancements – does the image look over-photoshopped? Have you lost the real meaning of the image by adding too many treatments? If so, then you shouldn’t be entering those images.
    /soapbox Ok, so the thing that gets me is, why should the subject NOT be in the direct center? There are loads of photos in the Gallery that have just this; center subject. Now, I don't think that a picture with some naked lady softly lit on the beach way off to the left is any more attractive than an orchid direct center, hard lit with loads of contrast.

    Second, if I think an image needs the highlights blown out, then I do it. I mean, I understand that this competition is for people that want to fit a cookie cutter, which is NOT me, but the question remains.

    I don't know how to even approach the last statement. I don't know anything about "treatments" and "enhancements" in photochop, but could the same thing be said about darkroom time? Could a photo be too burned or dodged? I don't think so. Why should the light be subtle. What if the bride specifically asked to be lit in hard shadows because she is having a murder mystery wedding and wanted a noir feel?

    Sure, some of these images are good, but I don't get it.

    I don't think competitions like this make art, photographers, or unique images. I think they shouldn't be called competitions. Well, maybe if they want to be called "everyone should make the exact same image competition".

    I searched for any information I could find on WHY one would not put the subject in the center, and then I found about 8 trillion images from 1850 on with just that. I just can't wrap my mind around it.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Feel better now?

    You're right that these 'rules' are meant to be broken... and they often are.

    As for competitions, well nobody says you have to enter them! :rolleyes: Before you give a particular competition a millisecond of your time, why not look at the past winners' work and see if you'd even want your work judged in a similar way. As for me, competitions are just not something I've ever cared for. I mean, generally these things are done simply to boost readership or advertise a product... not really to boost anyone's photographic career or teach them something that they didn't already know!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  3. #3

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    dang keith, you are fast ...

    ....
    what he said!
    im empty, good luck

  4. #4
    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    a: I like your work.

    2: I totally forgot to say that I have no intention on entering this competition. People pay me for my work, that's good enough competition for me.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

  5. #5
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Aesthetics of placement on any size medium (35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 8.10 etc.) are based on one's working interpretation of the key subject and its interrelationship with surroundings (see sample of lower-centre placement and left-corner anchor, cropped from 35mm).

    The popular square (medium) format often sees centre-placement ill-considered (especially wedding photographs) as the photographer is being unconsciously constrained by the format and that a symmetrical central placement looks best, yet moving a the key object(s) away from the centre or even to the extreme edge (asymmetrical: for abstract interpretations of visual-spatial relationships) can have considerably more impact. The larger the format, the more care needs to be exercised judiciously with composition and the placement of key elements.

    Very true of the other posts, but not the competition, apparently; rules can be broken and fun lessons can be learned by doing so, but you should be prepared to illumine your decision where the underlying choice is ambiguous. And that brings me to the next bit:

    Look at the lighting and posing – your subjects shouldn’t be dead-center in the image, lighting should be subtle – no hot spots or blown-out highlights. And check out your enhancements – does the image look over-photoshopped? Have you lost the real meaning of the image by adding too many treatments? If so, then you shouldn’t be entering those images.

    Well, goodness! Sounds like the person writing this (who also comes across as having a limited grasp of highlight/shadow control) could do with a solid grounding in foundation skills in photography rather than pander to cheap and cheerful "enhancements" per se in Photoshop. :rolleyes:
    Last edited by Poisson Du Jour; 09-23-2009 at 09:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  6. #6
    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    There can be too much photoshop. However, variable contrast burning to achieve more consistent tonality throughout your image probably does not fall into the category of "over-photoshopped."

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiberiustibz View Post
    There can be too much photoshop. However, variable contrast burning to achieve more consistent tonality throughout your image probably does not fall into the category of "over-photoshopped."
    this is true,
    but there are "treatments" that can be
    done in a traditional darkroom, that can easily be overdone ..
    too much contrast, too little contrast, vignetting, star filtering,
    "the big hand" to dodge and make things look too 3-d,
    screening, thwack the enlarger while it is exposing the print,
    printing through "stuff" ...

    the problem is that competitions try to homogenize
    and better things happen when there is no homogenization ...
    im empty, good luck

  8. #8
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Rules are meant to be broken by those who a) actually understand, fundamentally, why it is considered a rule in the first place and b) who know how and when to break rules in order to add to the impact of the result. Rules should not be broken by those who a) have no idea why it is a rule, or worse, don't even know that it is a rule b) have no idea what they are trying to say in the first place, and/or c) are more concerned with impressing and/or emulating others than with expressing themselves. At least in my humble opinion. Also in my opinion, since we're ranting these sorts of competitions tend to be filled primarily with the latter rather than the former, but I could be wrong...

    - Randy

  9. #9

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    I'd point out that some folks say shooting pictures for pay, per client spec, is the exact same antithesis of photographic art that you assign to the competition. We all have our ideas of what is "pure" or "true" art, and any encroachment on that is an affront, but keep in mind that everyone's boundary of offense is in a different spot. And that's ok.

    I personally enjoy constrictive competition because it gives me a good chance to think counter to my norms and potentially get something I wouldn't have gotten without the artificial boundary.

    I think a problem arises when the organizers of a competition attempt to assign some kind of global significance to their constrictions. The "rules" are only rules in the context of a given community (for example, the entrants of said contest). A good example is APUG's dis-allowance of any non-analog image. It fits the community, but it's certainly not universally applicable to all art, or even all photography.

    As to your incredulity about why one would not center a subject, I get the impression that you already know why but are using hyperbole to make a point, but I bet if you do some searches on the infamous "rule of thirds" you'll find plenty of information to wit, and potentially 8 trillion images from 1650 where subjects are laid on the power lines rather than the center line. This, however, does not invalidate a powerful image WITH a centered subject, yet it may answer your question.

    Similarly I disagree with you in that an image can be over-processed in the darkroom as easily as in Photoshop. Ok, not as EASILY insofar as the amount of time and effort involved, but my point is that nothing about a darkroom precludes a heavy-handed nincompoop from ruining a perfectly good image by dodging, burning, choosing the wrong contrast, vignetting, masking, colorizing, desaturating, etc. ad nauseum. (Note that said nincompoop had plenty of chances both before and after the print process to ruin the image as well, from bad exposure to the wrong mat color)

    Finally, what if a bride asked for off-center compositions with subtle, soft light?

  10. #10
    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shotgun1a View Post

    Finally, what if a bride asked for off-center compositions with subtle, soft light?
    Perhaps I was a bit upset when I wrote that. It happens. As to your question, I have been thinking about that very thing. Is the customer always right. A fellow photographer and myself were having a discussion in which he stated that people buy his digitally produced work (all digital) because it looks like everyone elses work, just better. I said people buy my work because it doesn't look like everyone else. If they want photography in a can, all looking the same, they can go to you. If they want my artistic ability and vision, they come to me.

    We agreed to disagree, because we are good friends. But that still left me wondering if I should expand my "artistic vision". Should I make images that I don't like, nor have any desire to spend time on, just to make money? Most people I talk to say yes. I'm not convinced.

    That's off topic and I'm sorry.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

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