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Author Topic: Rules of composition DO matter.  (Read 1343 times)

Offline SimonW

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Rules of composition DO matter.
« on: November 03, 2009, 08:41:02 AM »
I attended a slide show by a professional photographer last night. He had been on an extremely expensive overseas photo shoot, all landscape and wildlife. Every picture was pin sharp and perfectly exposed. And I'm afraid they were all very boring. In my opinion that was (mostly) due to composition. Subjects always in the centre of the frame, no lead-in lines, landscape shots with no foreground interest and so on. I'll agree you can ignore the rules sometimes, and with deliberate thought, but certainly not every time.


Simon Warren
(in Dunning, Scotland)

Offline alan1572

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 09:00:38 AM »
i suppose if he /she has someone to buy the boring work just because of who took the shots then all is well, if that is the case you have to wonder how much enjoyment the snapper gets from getting these shots, obviously the locations are nice buy it must be like another mundane day at the office.
Who wanted dry roasted with their pint?

picsfor

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 09:29:46 AM »
Rules are made for breaking  - they say...

But photographically, rules are normally broken to enhance the image and often comments are made to that effect.
A nice place is still a nice place with or without a photo. But a bad photograph of a nice place is still a bad photograph no matter what the subject matter.

Surely the real question is - if this person is a professional photographer making a living out of such awful pictures - do more us need to be giving up the day job?

Offline magicrhodes

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 09:47:18 AM »
Hmmm difficult one this. I would argue that it depends on the purpose of the photo (something I often miss). As this is wildlife photography is he there to document the wildlife, in which case I would argue that it is all about clarity and making the animal the main focus of the frame; yes he could be more artistic but that may not have been the aim.

As for the landscape pictures it is difficult to comment without seeing the image. If they were taken in the African savannah it would be diffcult to identify foreground interest. Should he have looked for foreground scenes or should he have documented what was there at the time?

I guess this brings us back to the discussion that we had on cliche photographs. We have all seen the pictures of boats in the foreground of lakes or rocks in mountain scenery? Whilst rules of composition do matter, at what point do they become too constricting and reduce the impact of "documentery photography" or simply photographing what is there at that moment? *opens can of worms and stands well clear whilst lighting blue touch paper*

picsfor

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 09:58:59 AM »
your points are valid - but conversely can we only accept a photo as being good if it is full of pin sharp focusing and DOF that defies what they eye can handle?
*adding more touch paper*

Offline magicrhodes

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2009, 10:37:33 AM »
I try and avoid speaking of art in terms of good and bad but more like and dislike. Art, whether it is music, imagery, installation etc, is very much subjective, one persons annoyance at rule breaking is another person’s avant-garde* image. I went to Tate Modern last week and felt that a lot of it left me wanting to shout “The Emperor is naked” I was amazed that anyone would display it but that did not make it bad it just meant that I did not like it...  :legit:

I don’t think good and bad photos can be defined by an application of rules, simply some photos work some don’t , but ultimately it is the individual that decides whether a picture is good /bad, boring or not. Rules will help beginners, like me, size up an image but they can be bent and indeed broken to great effect.  :legit: :legit:

Perhaps the bigger question not asked by our poster is should there be more of a variation within a slideshow to maintain interest over a longer period of time. For example if every landscape had foreground interest would that be boring and show a lack of imagination through rigid application of “the rules” by the photographer? If presenting to a wide audience perhaps a mixture of rule followers, rule benders and rule breakers would maintain interest further.

*presses  send with H&S requsite gloves, mask and bucket of water to douse any sparks*

*As wise man once said “Avant-garde” is French for BS!

Offline ABERS

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2009, 02:59:01 PM »
I'll agree you can ignore the rules sometimes, and with deliberate thought, but certainly not every time.

Why ever not Simon? If it works once why not twice, why not thrice ad infinitum......
Surely rules are only there to make the picture 'look right' to those that have learned them, will the picture 'look right' to those that have not if the rules are flouted?

Are the rules there just to satisfy judges and give them something to point out if not adhered to?
I seem to have just asked questions and given no answers, so all I'll say is s*d the rules, if it looks right as far as I'm concerned it is right. Let's have originality rather than sterility. :tup:

Offline SimonW

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2009, 03:04:51 PM »
Chickens and eggs come to mind here. Were the "rules" written to describe what the majority of people were found to like or, as you suggest, have we learned to like photos that conform to the "rules"?
Simon Warren
(in Dunning, Scotland)

Offline ABERS

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2009, 03:24:33 PM »
Chickens and eggs come to mind here. Were the "rules" written to describe what the majority of people were found to like or, as you suggest, have we learned to like photos that conform to the "rules"?

As far as photography is concerned they were they not carried over from the art world and I assume that they were a result of what pleased the eye of the majority. I'm sure there are mathematical theories that explain the rule of thirds, the golden mean etc., the reading of pictures left to right by us in the western world and the reverse elsewhere, and there is no denying they are part and parcel of what is regarded as a pleasing picture.

To take this discussion a step further, how often have you looked at a picture that others rave about and to you there is nothing in it to stir any emotion whatsoever? And vice versa perhaps.

Is there an affliction that strikes photographers called 'photographic dyslexia' I'm convinced I suffer from it quite often. :-[

Offline alan1j

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2009, 03:56:47 PM »
Surely the rule of composition is just a starting point as with most rules within photography. Yes you may get the best piece of the image in the right part of the frame and have that ever so crucial foreground or the horizon two thirds from the bottom of the frame.. But does it make for a better photo. In my view it depends on what your trying to portray within the image. Sometimes without using this rule images can take on a completely different take and make the viewer think, Yes I'll give that idea a go next time I want to try something a bit different. I quiet often play around with the crop tool to see how different compositions effect an image. The same applies to lighting and so on. But IMHO trying to get the best shot you can out of camera appling all the normal rules is the first thing one has to achieve. The great advantage with digital is then once this is achieved you can go about breaking them all and changing a shot to suit whatever you want as the end result within photoshop or whatever else you use to manipulate the original shot...
 

Offline CML-1591

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2009, 04:56:40 PM »
I attended a slide show by a professional photographer last night.
who is it? Or were they that boring that you didn't bother to jot it down lol?
Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment. - Ansel Adams,

picsfor

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2009, 04:58:57 PM »
bit hard for him to name the person after this thread!

Offline Jonathan

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Re: Rules of composition DO matter.
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2009, 05:01:17 PM »
Quote
And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner .
It's Guest's round

 

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