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Keith_A_Howe
09-09-2010, 05:18 PM
Composition is important to the design of an image, bringing all of the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.



Doesn't say this in the "official" description but composition is where we start talking about the rule of thirds, Bakkers saddle, leading lines, repeating forms etc. I think this will be an interesting discussion and I hope that everyone posts lots of samples to illustrate these concepts. I'll go first!

This image illustrates the rule of thirds and repetition of forms. Notice how the shapes made by the grass covered sandbars and the channels of the river are repeated by the wind blown scarf.
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/WindandWater.jpg

On this image I drew both the rule of thirds and the Bakkers saddle composition lines so you can see how close they are. I always like to say that the rule of thirds is not the exact street address where you should place your subject matter but rather the neighborhood where it should be.
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/TooCloseforComfort.jpg

This image shows bulls eye composition. It's ok but not probably the best choice for this print. It did go loan but I think that was more from the technical excellance then the composition. I choose to present it this way because I just couldn't make it work based on rule of thirds. Holly has a print that is a perfect example of bullseye composition and if I can lay my hands on it I will post it here also.
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/FishyThinking.jpg

Something else I want to point out on these two last two images is the use of diagonals. In the mountain lion if he had been standing on a level surface so his back was not higher then his front, I wouldn't have had that diagonal of his body that causes the viewer to feel like he is coming at you, which creates impact. In the seal print the diagonal of his fin, the top of his head and his back all create interest in what is really a very static image. Also the seals head is twisted around, so the line of his back curves around and creates a hook that then becomes the top of his head. If I had cropped it differently to have rule of thirds composition, I would have lost that hook and had a leading line that led out the upper right corner of the image.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
09-09-2010, 05:50 PM
Heres another example of a composition choice. This is how I photographed the scene.
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/LastLightasphotographed.jpg

Here is how I choose to enter it.
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/LastLightcr.jpg

By flipping the image I left a lot of open space on the left. Because our eyes are trained to read from upper left to lower right I wanted to create the most visual distance possible before the viewer got to the light house. As it actually appears in nature, you don't get the same sense of distance and isolation that you do in the flipped version. So this is an example of using composition to tell the story.

Keith

GregYager
09-09-2010, 06:15 PM
Would these be examples of the use of the rule of thirds and Bakkers Saddle?

The over tilted image in the middle oddly enough is the image the parents purchased for their wall. I shot it this way in an attempt to add a more dramatic feel but I think the horizon line throws the whole image off.

What could have made these images better in terms of composition?

Keith_A_Howe
09-09-2010, 06:27 PM
Here is another example.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/Emotional_Entanglement_stroked.jpg

This was a loan print for me a few years ago. One of the compositional elements that makes this print strong is the repetition of lines. We have the curve of the fabric, her upraised arm, her fingers curving back around the fabric, the drape of the cowl neck, the curve of her bustline, her cheek, and the waves in her hair. It's the same curve repeated over and over. And some of those curves are interlocking almost like a chain which led to the title "Emotional Entanglement". By tilting the image to create a diagonal line from upper left to lower right ( the same way your eye reads) it made it much more dynamic and visually interesting. Off the topic of composition for a moment, this was printed on watercolor paper, so the presentation using the soft almost velevety paper echoed the softness of her sweater and skin. Presentation enhanced the story of the image.

Ok - theres a bunch of my examples, lets see somebody else's.

Keith

GregYager
09-09-2010, 09:15 PM
Should I be using a higher resolution to upload here or does the size I used work ok?

Marc_Benjamin
09-09-2010, 09:25 PM
Should I be using a higher resolution to upload here or does the size I used work ok?

Greg, most of us don't do the attachments feature here but instead insert the image (image is hosted somewhere else) on the post.

You'll have to upload one that's at least 800 on the long side so we could see.

GregYager
09-09-2010, 09:34 PM
Thanks Marc. I was wondering how to do that.

On a side note... I wish you had a video of your recent dancer shoot. Would love to see how you came up with the awesome results you got.

Keith_A_Howe
09-10-2010, 12:54 AM
Marc, remember how I saw something funky around the hands on the dancer you posted a few days ago? Well I posted the girl above on my other computer earlier today and now I am upstairs on the same laptop where I saw the problem on your image. My girl looks awful here! The background is showing the worst banding/pixelating I've ever seen. Since this is the same file that went loan just resized, I am thinking that it's a moniter issue on this laptop and not a problem with your dancer image. Just wanted to let you know.

Keith

GregYager
09-10-2010, 04:29 AM
I saw the lines around the hands on the dancer image too. My monitor could be messed up too though.

Keith_A_Howe
09-11-2010, 02:22 AM
Come on guys! Composition was an element we would have lots of discussion. It's something you can change after the shutter trips and it can totally change the feel of an image. Lets see some samples of traditional composition and where you broke the "rules" successfully.

Keith

Linda_Gregory
09-11-2010, 01:40 PM
Here is one I had help with! It's dead center but the shadows on his face break it up some. It did merit, I've not had a loan print yet. The critique stated it still had a tinge of green in it, they could tell it had been shot through glass and that it may have been held back by the matte treatment I had given it as some judges never liked that style.

I'm going to say it was the glass and that critique giver was wrong about the open mindedness of the judges.http://www.lindagregory.com/majestic-glare.jpg

Rick_Massarini
09-11-2010, 08:46 PM
... and that it may have been held back by the matte treatment I had given it as some judges never liked that style.

I don't think the issue is that some of the judges don't like that style, but more the fact that the matte effect does not add to the strength of the image and in fact, might be somewhat distracting to the strength of the core image.

Linda_Gregory
09-11-2010, 10:08 PM
Rick,

I'm repeating what the critique judge said, we'll have to argue with her. :)

Marc_Benjamin
09-12-2010, 12:54 AM
http://www.lindagregory.com/majestic-glare.jpg

Looking at this strictly from a composition pov, sorry but I think this fell short while strength in the other 11 elements pushed it to merit.

However, I'm slightly conflicted since placing this dead center is the only real way you could place it so in theory, placing it this way was more of a solution to what would have probably been a problem.

Rick_Massarini
09-12-2010, 01:45 AM
Sometimes bullseye is the best composition for an image. If she had offset this image, it would probably not have done as well. The Lion is looking straight forward towards you, so dead center works for this one, but it might have done better with a single mat instead of the triple matting treatment. IMO

Linda_Gregory
09-12-2010, 01:56 AM
Yes, from the critique (boy I keep mentioning that, don't I?) it sounded like the placement was fine, it was the border choice and the green tones. The KILLER image is the one my husband took of me taking that. I may have to look it up to share.

Rick_Massarini
09-12-2010, 03:20 AM
Was he standing over your shoulder waving a steak???

Linda_Gregory
09-12-2010, 03:38 AM
Our zoo has a cave where we stand with glass between us. Kids had been in there, forgotten they were at the zoo and giggling, playing tag and generally being kids. The lion stalked and jumped the window with a HUGE roar. The kids ran off screaming (I would have, too!) and I got in his face. I didn't look tender with my camera in front of my face.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhawk1000/236123878/in/set-72157594159717577/

Keith_A_Howe
09-13-2010, 01:11 PM
Should I be using a higher resolution to upload here or does the size I used work ok?

Greg, I know that Marc gave you a quick note on this but there is a thread that details posting larger images on the forum. Here is the link to that sticky thread located at the top of the Photographic Competition catagory.
http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=16257

Keith_A_Howe
09-13-2010, 01:14 PM
Sometimes bullseye is the best composition for an image. If she had offset this image, it would probably not have done as well. The Lion is looking straight forward towards you, so dead center works for this one, but it might have done better with a single mat instead of the triple matting treatment. IMO
Rick, I agree with your assement.
Linda thanks for posting.
Anyone else want to share or ask any questions pertaining to composition?
Keith

Keith_A_Howe
09-13-2010, 02:23 PM
Maybe we can get more discussion going if we for specific examples. Anybody want to share a print that shows good horizon line placement? How about leading lines or framing?

Keith

Stephanie_Millner
09-13-2010, 02:31 PM
Do they have to be comp prints that were already entered?

Keith_A_Howe
09-13-2010, 03:14 PM
Absolutely not! Just want to see more discussion about composition.
Keith

GregYager
09-13-2010, 03:55 PM
Would this be an example of framing or are you talking about matting techniques?


http://www.mymorganfield.com/forumimages/motherchild1.jpg

GregYager
09-13-2010, 05:51 PM
Here is how I have it displayed in our local pediatrician's office.http://www.mymorganfield.com/forumimages/motherchild2lowres.jpg

Tss1203
09-13-2010, 11:16 PM
I love reading and participating, but I'm not always the best at sharing my images, sorry. So in the spirit of the discussion this is one I sent to print comp this year. This image was taken only 3 days before I sent my case in, so I didn't spend too much time on it.
Actually, these threads on the 12 elements have inspired me to go an photograph this subject again.


Here is the image as I sent it in. (This is one of the images that the judge said the print wasn't as sharp as the digital file).
The judge commented that he really liked the composition of the image- the way it wrapped around.
http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j19/twinshutterbugs/print%20comp/Broken_Promises2-1.jpg
And just for the fun of it, here is the image w/the changes he recommended.
-cropping the right side and the top of the image to make it less distracting, and sharpening it.
http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j19/twinshutterbugs/print%20comp/brokenpromises_edit-1.jpg

GregYager
09-14-2010, 03:22 AM
Hey Amy, pose a bride and groom inside that and title it "Entangled" :D

Tss1203
09-14-2010, 03:26 PM
Greg, that would be totally amazing...but totally not possible :) That image is a view of a part of the defunct train bridge in town. Now, maybe I could get a bride willing to venture and get some photos near the bridge, which would be amazing!

This is the bridge-
http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j19/twinshutterbugs/print%20comp/ab.jpg

and for the sake of the thread discussion, anyone have any recommendations on how to better compose this image?

Tss1203
09-14-2010, 03:31 PM
ps-when I was deciding on a title for the first image I was really trying to come up w/something using CFP. "CFP" stands for "Cash Flow Posse"- a gang in Detroit that had some strong influences in my hometown in the '90's.

Linda_Gregory
09-14-2010, 03:45 PM
Amy, what is off to the right of the structure? As it is now, it's got too much blank space on the left and foreground. (mpho! [my personal humble opinion])

GregYager
09-14-2010, 05:15 PM
If i was to try and tell the story of this structure in a single image I would look for a busy roadway to combine with it. Shoot it at either late dusk or early dawn using a small aperture and a slow shutter speed to streak the lights of passing traffic. Title the image "Frozen in Time"

Tss1203
09-14-2010, 06:09 PM
this bridge goes over the river, and is on a large piece of vacant land. That would be an awesome idea though Greg!

Off to the right is a bunch of boat houses.

Just an FYI-this shot isn't anything special to me. I In fact, other than merging the exposures for HDR, it's pretty much SOOTC. (I think I did crop it some, too)

GregYager
09-22-2010, 02:40 AM
Are we ready for the next element?

Keith_A_Howe
09-22-2010, 02:47 AM
Funny that you should bring that up. I was just thinking about it. Being gone to SWPPA has really wrecked my scheduale. I have a couple more examples of composition stuff that I want to post tomorrow. Then I'll move on to the next element.

Keith

GregYager
09-22-2010, 03:05 AM
That works for me. I've been working on my composition while you were gone. I figured out my problem btw. I think I have way more experience than I have knowledge if that makes sense. I feel like I'm learning photography all over again but that's a good(great) thing to me. My clients love my work but to be real honest I don't. I see it's many mistakes and I'm anxious to fix them all.

Keith_A_Howe
09-22-2010, 02:44 PM
I understand about more experience then knowledge. You know when it looks right but you can't say why it looks right. The good thing about competition is it will help you understand why something looks right and why sometimes wrong looks even better then right. Once you understand that then you can repeat it at will rather then waiting for serendipity.

Keith

GregYager
09-30-2010, 04:23 PM
Hey Marc, you've got some excellent work. Why don't you jump in and help Keith out here for a while on these elements. It was really going good there for a while and I'd hate to see people lose interest.

Keith_A_Howe
09-30-2010, 05:54 PM
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/GoingPlaces-1.jpg
I finally got (made) some time to add a couple things here before we move on to the next element. So here is an image by Jeff Dachowski. It was at least a general collection image and I think Showcase book. I asked Jeff if I could share this print because it breaks a lot of composition "rules" and does so in a way that helps the print. I added the black line around the outside to make it easier to see how it was actually presented. The title of the image is "Going Places" (a Holly title by the way). This portrait is telling the story of an active senior citizen who is on the move both literally and figratively. So what "rules" does this break? First is rule of thirds. Her face - the main center of interest - is no where near an intersection of thirds either in the image area or within the overall presentation. Next she has no space to move into, she is tight up against the right hand side. Next she is facing out of, not into the image. So taking all that into consideration think about what the title told the judges, this woman is on the move and the composition shows a subject about ready to run right out of the frame. The other great composition element this print has going for it is the strong leading line of her leg and back drawing your eyes right up to her face. Remember diagonals also convey a sense of motion adding to the idea that this subject is on the move. This image is a great example of breaking the rules for a purpose. Jeff used what he knew about composition to add to the story and it was rewarded. He got a merit on a print that breaks the rules.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
09-30-2010, 06:00 PM
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/Jenny_level_10.jpg

Here is another merit image of Jeff's. I wanted to point out the use of framing. While this image would have been striking without the veil, notice how it draws attention to her eyes. The veil on either side of her face acts as stoppers to frame the center of interest.

Keith

GregYager
09-30-2010, 06:37 PM
This is beginning to make more sense to me. The senior citizen image was more of a story telling shot and by placing her outside the boundary of thirds it helped to tell the story. In contrast the bride image was more striking than story telling so framing elements were incorporated to draw attention to the most striking element which in this case was her eyes.

I tend to put things in my words to insure I'm grasping a concept so I apologize if it sounds like I'm repeating you.

My reason for urgency on this element is that I have a shoot this weekend that the family member in charge brought this element out specifically. It's a family of 20(large group + individual families) and she said she doesn't want a typical lineup of people for these shots. She's looking for "a composition that shows each person for who they are and put together in a way that looks comfortable yet professional".(her words)

Keith_A_Howe
10-01-2010, 12:28 AM
Greg
Yes you are getting it.
Framing could also be elements that show a forground to add depth. Anyone else want to post on this element or ask any questions???

As for your family, it sounds to me like she would like a loose grouping. Where each sub family is grouped togeather but in a way that reflects their personality or age. Maybe teen agers turned out from parents as they are working toward cutting the apron strings so to speak. toddlers maybe hanging on to moms / dads leg etc. I am sure you have your own ideas but I posted this for anyone that might want ideas.
Keith

Marie_M
10-01-2010, 12:45 PM
Images like these really inspire me!