Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beginning Composition: 2nd Class

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.  -- Dorothea Lange

     Painters begin with an empty canvas. Photographers begin with a cluttered vision in their viewfinder. Painters fill the canvas with brush strokes and a view they want. Photographers selectively exclude all but the most vital aspects for the viewer's mind to see. If there is something in the scene the painter doesn't want, he doesn't paint it. In the same situation a photographer must creatively exclude it from his composition.

When framing your subject... get close. Snap. Then get closer still. Snap away. Get closer still! You can never take too many pictures with digital, provided of course you brought more than one card and your back up batteries. Framing your subject is important for two reasons (there are many more, but we are focusing on these right now);
1. you don't want to loose pixels, which you do when you crop
2. It's a time saver!
When shooting, try your subject horizontally and vertically. Decide later which looks better. Take advantage of the opportunities in the field and shoot from as many angles as you can.

     "Rule of Thirds"  This should become your new best friend! "What is it?" you say. You know him well. Think of the Tic Tac Toe board... 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines dividing your picture evenly. Subjects work well placed on or near the intersection of these lines. Horizons belong on or near these lines. The subject should rarely be placed dead center.

     Every photo contains at least one or more of these elements: line, shape, form, texture, pattern, and color.

             What makes a striking image?
                    Usually commonplace objects, composed in the simplest of ways:
                      - limited to a single theme or idea
                      - organized without clutter

Line is the strongest; creates shape, form, texture, pattern. It can be long, short, thick, thin, lead you away, or in to a picture. Lines can be soothing/threathening; sickly and unstable; strong and durable; sexy and cute. Nature is dominated with lines; rivers, surf, dunes, hills

Shape is the principal element of identification.
  -best identified when front or back lit
  -it needs strong contrast with its surroundings
  -silhouettes are most popular, best taken at sunrise or sunset.

Leading Lines are lines that lead the eye through a picture or into a scene. Railways, piers, fences, tunnels, roads, trees are a few examples.

The spokes on the wagon wheel act as leading lines to Phoebe's face.


While the fence leads into the picture, Kelsey's arms are the actual 'leading lines' to her face.

Through Frames: archways, tree boughs, arms, windows, doors.... things that will 'frame' your subject, create a 'window' to draw the eye into the picture. Using a medium telephoto lens seems to be best for this.

Montezuma's castle is 'framed' by some tree branches. It also gives the picture depth, height and a size relationship.


The island is framed by the archway, which has another subject on it, just off center. Notice how nothing is dead center but some blue sky. This picture was taken by Rachael Moore in Tossa del Mar, Spain with Phoebe on the arch.  Nice job Rach!!

Patterns, natural and man-made are everywhere. The key is to isolate them.

The natural pattern of the kiwi fruit.

A man-made pattern, where I experimented with depth of field.

Textures: relate to the sense of touch. Through photography we 'touch' the surface with our eyes, therefore the quality of light is important to portray the texture.

You see the shine and while the lighting is not great you can tell there is the grit of grout there.

Nature provides amazing textures along with patterns.

Several textures are apparent in this. What are they?

Abstract: confluences of color, shapes, textures, and isolated form.

Establishing Size: follow this link for the best examples.

Taken by Phoebe in Barcelona, Spain, this shows the grandness of the building compared to the sprawling city. Besides size, what other elements are here?

Color: more than design, color can set a mood. Reds and oranges are hot and exciting, blues and greens are cool and refreshing. Again, follow the link for ideas.

Bright colors add to the enthusiasm of these kindergarteners. My granddaughter, Chloe, is in the purple glasses top left :)

Cools and calms are evoked here.

As an overview of Composition/Rule of Thirds follow the link. Go out and practice. Practice makes creativity.

ASSIGNMENT: keep snapping and apply elements of design and composition. Keep your camera in auto mode and pointed outward. Pay attention to things on campus. Submit your pictures to me with information about them. Anything news worthy, or a particularly great shot, I will submit to "Photo of the Week". The one stipulation is, it has to be Wickenburg related. BRING your camera and manuel next week!!  Good things follow.....

Here is part of my assignment;
To show you the difference between a full frame sensor and a smaller frame sensor in my Canon 50D I took these two shots. Both are using the same lens set at 24 mm, standing in the same location.

This is with the full frame sensor. Notice in the shadows, the chair near the left bottom third of the page and to the right the yucca.

This is the smaller sensor of the 50D. Notice how the chair, yucca and even well pump are completely cut out. My 24-105 lens loses the ability to get the 24 stretch but it gains reach and goes beyond the 105mm with the smaller sensor. It's an advantage if you shoot more with telephoto but not so with the wide angle.
The above shot is standing.

I am kneeling here.

Down on my belly, the cats are starting to get curious. Moving 5 steps closer on my belly.....

...the ball came into a closer view providing an interesting prospective. The cats thought...'yay, nice bed.'

I held the camera above my head and hoped for the best.

Skipping some of the parts, because you get the idea, I'll show the more interesting takes from the assignment (for me anyway).

These two pictures (right and below) were taken from the same spot, just focusing on different things. Below I focused on the weeds. To the right you can tell the weeds are there, they are very blurry but I focused on the prickly pear behind them. The tree's trunk is in between and I did a shot of that too, not included here.

Looking up I saw the branches of the tree. I then could pick out one branch with dead leaves still clinging to in and focus just on it...

...and a cat found me, again.
Keep snapping!! Keep checking the blog and MAKE COMMENTS! Follow the links!! There is a world of information out there.  See you Thursday :)

1 comment:

  1. GREAT SHOTS and great concepts!! The average picture taker taht I am has leanred quite a bit!!

    Keep it coming!!