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There are no rules in composition, really?

James Lemon

Active member
Why do you feel that way James?
My eye is taken out of the picture because of the bold diagonal line entering directly from the bottom corner of the frame and exiting the top corner of the frame my eye does not linger in the image. My attention feels divided. I think a stronger image could have been produced with these elements had the photographer stepped back a bit and framed it with a little more care or cropped it differently. As it stands the image does not work for me. No offence to Antonio.

James
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
My eye is taken out of the picture because of the bold diagonal line entering directly from the bottom corner of the frame and exiting the top corner of the frame my eye does not linger in the image. My attention feels divided. I think a stronger image could have been produced with these elements had the photographer stepped back a bit and framed it with a little more care or cropped it differently. As it stands the image does not work for me. No offence to Antonio.

James
Thanks a lot for your kind explanation James. The picture works for me for exactly the reasons you've listed. I know that the common understanding of diagonals may be in line with your views. I, however, am never disturbed by lines entering or leaving the frame, it is my choice to focus on parts of the image I want to focus on. I can ignore parts which are less interesting or perhaps even disturbing. And I like lingering on different parts of an image. It is not a division of my attention, it is more goodness to explore.
 
Hi Antonio,

This is immediately impressive. But do we have any idea why?

That's the point of Bart's question. Does it's composition follow/leverage any guidelines, tricks or mechanisms we might learn from?

Asher
I'll conjecture a speculative answer. Antonio's picture is a tour de force in diagonal composition. Diagonals have an innate suggestion of force, movement, or change. Things that remain vertical do so because they are in balance. Things that are horizontal are in repose; perhaps they have already fallen. But diagonals signal potential or actual instability. This in an old world where all creatures, human beings included, instinctively know the ineluctable force of gravity always acts normal to the earth's surface, never at an angle.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I'll conjecture a speculative answer. Antonio's picture is a tour de force in diagonal composition. Diagonals have an innate suggestion of force, movement, or change. Things that remain vertical do so because they are in balance. Things that are horizontal are in repose; perhaps they have already fallen. But diagonals signal potential or actual instability. This in an old world where all creatures, human beings included, instinctively know the ineluctable force of gravity always acts normal to the earth's surface, never at an angle.
It's interesting to ask then, what point in the photograph is moist attention getting. I think it's the places where the various lines cross one another. This intersection happen to be the junction on one of the stronger positions, according to the Diagonal Method

I have done no systematic research on my one, but find this approach, at least fascinating.

Asher
 
The Diagonal Method looks interesting but I wonder if it only one of a set of picture division protocols all of which yield surprising results sometimes. Perhaps it's like numerology which has a rich enough repetoire of algorithms to invariably find coincidences.

Here's an old photograph taken in a local sculpture garden that has no diagonals at all. It was consciously composed according to the rules of thirds so the left hand figure leers convincingly at the right hand form.
Sculpture, chez Fran Parkes #2

Gelatin-silver photograph on Agfa MCC111 VC FB photographic paper, image size 16.3cm diameter, from a Kodak Tmax 6x6 rollfilm negative exposed in a Seagull 4A103A twin lens reflex camera fitted with a Marexar Fisheye converter lens.
 

Andy brown

Active member
My (humble) contribution to this thread.

Great contribution Antonio.

The first thing that struck me was the lovely metallic sort of feel I had at first glance (I think) before my eyes starting doing the old dance around the image bit.

Far from leading my eye out of frame, the series of strong and close diagonals took my eye from edge (diagonal)to edge then zing back again down a rope then along another rope then again with a hard black line, only then did I start working out the shapes of openings and portholes and rivets.

I think its fantastic and yes, the rules work when they work!
 

James Lemon

Active member

Since this is an idea workshop and just a venture. I took the liberty of rotating Antonio's image 180 degrees. I feel that this version is a more dynamic and much stronger image with the diagonals exiting at different points. I apologize for the smaller sized version.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
First what is this?

Antonio shows a B&W picture that is essential an out of camera representation of part of perhaps a larger man made structure he found interesting.

This shows of two metal surfaces on a flat plane, separated by a dark black gap or ibdentation where there appears to be no metal at all. Each of the two co planar surfaces show linear arrangements of rivets, almost flat to the surface. Over this single plane, there are taught ccables/ropes in two sets arranged in an X pattern. There are two holes from which cable can pass. One is empty and is a strong feature, while the other is empty and far weaker as an attention getter.


My (humble) contribution to this thread.


Antonio's Correia: Untitled



Since this is an idea workshop and just a venture. I took the liberty of rotating Antonio's image 180 degrees. I feel that this version is a more dynamic and much stronger image with the diagonals exiting at different points. I apologize for the smaller sized version.
Well then, James,

In the original, the knot of cable/rope intersection feature is the most significant and attention-getting part of the image. What's more, in our culture, knots, crossings and intersections have a myriad of extraordinarily important analogs in every part of our lives. This is where things happen, people meet, agreements are made and wars break out!

So let's get back to structure once more. In your version, the weaker round hole, now on the top, fails to adequately anchor the image and the strong hole below draws attention to the now descending black line which ends up without a power function.

In the original, from the reference position of the powerful opening with cable, we traverse, left to right, descending, to meet with the lines rising boldly from the lower left. Everything meets at this one common knot/intersection of mass and complexity, the most significant feature of the entire composition. We have no fear leaving the frame as the staccato array of dots keep eyes exploring from all approaches to this main feature.

So, on my reading, Antonio naturally arranged a strong compelling composition from the outset.

However, I will revisit your version and see if it speaks more!

Asher
 

James Lemon

Active member
First what is this?

Antonio shows a B&W picture that is essential an out of camera representation of part of perhaps a larger man made structure he found interesting.

This shows of two metal surfaces on a flat plane, separated by a dark black gap or ibdentation where there appears to be no metal at all. Each of the two co planar surfaces show linear arrangements of rivets, almost flat to the surface. Over this single plane, there are taught ccables/ropes in two sets arranged in an X pattern. There are two holes from which cable can pass. One is empty and is a strong feature, while the other is empty and far weaker as an attention getter.






Antonio's Correia: Untitled




Well then, James,

In the original, the knot of cable/rope intersection feature is the most significant and attention-getting part of the image. What's more, in our culture, knots, crossings and intersections have a myriad of extraordinarily important analogs in every part of our lives. This is where things happen, people meet, agreements are made and wars break out!

So let's get back to structure once more. In your version, the weaker round hole, now on the top, fails to adequately anchor the image and the strong hole below draws attention to the now descending black line which ends up without a power function.

In the original, from the reference position of the powerful opening with cable, we traverse, left to right, descending, to meet with the lines rising boldly from the lower left. Everything meets at this one common knot/intersection of mass and complexity, the most significant feature of the entire composition. We have no fear leaving the frame as the staccato array of dots keep eyes exploring from all approaches to this main feature.

So, on my reading, Antonio naturally arranged a strong compelling composition from the outset.

However, I will revisit your version and see if it speaks more!

Asher
Asher

I will suggest that the original version did not have an anchor. My eye entered the frame slowly sped up and out of the frame. My version allows the ascending lines to exit at different varied widths and points producing a more desirable effect that does anchor the image. However I am reasonably sure that Antonio will ultimately decide on what he likes best.

James
 

James Lemon

Active member
First what is this?

Antonio shows a B&W picture that is essential an out of camera representation of part of perhaps a larger man made structure he found interesting.

This shows of two metal surfaces on a flat plane, separated by a dark black gap or ibdentation where there appears to be no metal at all. Each of the two co planar surfaces show linear arrangements of rivets, almost flat to the surface. Over this single plane, there are taught ccables/ropes in two sets arranged in an X pattern. There are two holes from which cable can pass. One is empty and is a strong feature, while the other is empty and far weaker as an attention getter.






Antonio's Correia: Untitled




Well then, James,

In the original, the knot of cable/rope intersection feature is the most significant and attention-getting part of the image. What's more, in our culture, knots, crossings and intersections have a myriad of extraordinarily important analogs in every part of our lives. This is where things happen, people meet, agreements are made and wars break out!

So let's get back to structure once more. In your version, the weaker round hole, now on the top, fails to adequately anchor the image and the strong hole below draws attention to the now descending black line which ends up without a power function.

In the original, from the reference position of the powerful opening with cable, we traverse, left to right, descending, to meet with the lines rising boldly from the lower left. Everything meets at this one common knot/intersection of mass and complexity, the most significant feature of the entire composition. We have no fear leaving the frame as the staccato array of dots keep eyes exploring from all approaches to this main feature.

So, on my reading, Antonio naturally arranged a strong compelling composition from the outset.

However, I will revisit your version and see if it speaks more!

Asher
Asher

I will suggest that the original version did not have an anchor. My eye entered the frame slowly sped up and out of the frame. My version allows the ascending lines to exit at different varied widths and points producing a more desirable effect that does anchor the image. However I am reasonably sure that Antonio will ultimately decide on what he likes best.

James
 

Andy brown

Active member
Whether or not the composition of lines and balance work more favourably upside down, the brain does realise that something is inherantly wrong (the sunlight is coming from an impossible angle).
Well it hurts my feeble grey matter anyway.
 
This is a subject worthy of attention! So.......



What guides us in composition?

  • Native intuition

  • Experience

  • Actual rules that one tried to apply as often as possible

  • Creating pleasing look

  • Attention-GettingA sense of "Unity" or disorder

  • An experience of "balance" or "harmony"

  • A sense of going against expectations

  • Some other factors


Let's share our approaches to "composition" and any references that serve as a great guide!


asher



Asher, here goes!

Since you asked about the development of individuals compositional habits or education or peculiarities, (or whatever), it is with some insecurity that I offer my bizarre process. I had all of the composition and color classes in art school in the 60's and followed them as if they had been handed to me by Giotto himself. I passed on to graduate school and entered a two year Masters program in painting, while under an assistantship teaching photography and darkroom skills. Did my same painting stuff through the first year, adding more of an interest in the Spanish and Mexican painters (interested in the hardships of the working man), then fell apart when I realized that I knew nothing about hard work. I was just making up pictures. I was spending more and more time with a sculptor on the faculty who had studied at Yale with Naum Gabo. I went and helped when he cast bronzes of some of his large sculptures, and we talked a lot about the idea of creating an object rather than a "picture." That began for me, a 30 year experiment in which I worked to do away with all pictorial composition. I initially set up a set of simple rules. Only work on a square format, and only use thalo blue and cadmium red (later adding metallic particles of bronze and aluminum). I wanted to create two dimensional OBJECTS. I've added a few examples.
The first is one of the first attempts for me at creating without composition,





The second is later and out of graduate school and was included in a show in Paris, of "up and coming young painters (of which I am no longer young and only rarely paint).






The third was a later piece as I went to creating larger and larger objects.




The last object is a photograph. As I began to move from the painting arena and focus most of my efforts toward digital photography, I transferred my grand experiment toward my new work. It's very different working with what I find rather than what I create, but still I work with my non compositional ideas to try to be true to the object.







Probably makes no sense, but it works for me!
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher, here goes!..............


The first is one of the first attempts for me at creating without composition,





The second is later and out of graduate school and was included in a show in Paris, of "up and coming young painters (of which I am no longer young and only rarely paint).






The third was a later piece as I went to creating larger and larger objects.




The last object is a photograph. As I began to move from the painting arena and focus most of my efforts toward digital photography, I transferred my grand experiment toward my new work. It's very different working with what I find rather than what I create, but still I work with my non compositional ideas to try to be true to the object.







Probably makes no sense, but it works for me!

Bill,

This is a huge challenge, in itself to get one's mind around your more than 30 year journey! You only show one photograph. If this was your whole body of work, which of course it isn't, i's venture to say you have moved from obsessional geometric order to "selected disorder". I am not sure what I will think when you share more pictures you believe are made from your strict philosophy.

Asher
 

Alain Briot

pro member
These are nice.

I'd argue that there is composition, but that there is so much of the original subject removed that we reach the level of abstraction, where we no longer know what the subject is and we are left with the contents of the image alone.
 
Bill,

This is a huge challenge, in itself to get one's mind around your more than 30 year journey! You only show one photograph. If this was your whole body of work, which of course it isn't, i's venture to say you have moved from obsessional geometric order to "selected disorder". I am not sure what I will think when you share more pictures you believe are made from your strict philosophy.

Asher
I like your referance to selected disorder. I am reminded of a small flyer that I picked up in the 60's called Chance-Imagery by George Brecht. What is a real challenge, is to keep going.
 
These are nice.

I'd argue that there is composition, but that there is so much of the original subject removed that we reach the level of abstraction, where we no longer know what the subject is and we are left with the contents of the image alone.
Thanks for your comment. I don't disagree. As much that is removed, only offers visual changes to the subject. I think I'm refering to the object as being it's own self, rather than a picture of something that is itself the real thing. In the end, now, I'm pretty sure you can't ever exclude composition, as it defines the very space that our visions live in and create.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
I'm working on an essay on composition. I'll post it here, or a link to it, which I think will be better. I'll post here when it is ready.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Thanks for your comment. I don't disagree. As much that is removed, only offers visual changes to the subject. I think I'm refering to the object as being it's own self, rather than a picture of something that is itself the real thing. In the end, now, I'm pretty sure you can't ever exclude composition, as it defines the very space that our visions live in and create.
Removing elements is not removing composition.. Otherwise abstract images wouldn't just be abstract, they would be devoid of composition. And since you cannot not have composition there would be no abstract images.
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Call them observations/concepts or what you like...what do you think is at work here?


Just walking in my garden a little while ago, I noticed this setup. Thought I would post it. I have not played around with it. Just some color balance and contrast.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I notice the elements, not the composition yet.

That large elongated leaf on the way to being skeletonize, I find the most fascinating and that would occupy me for 20 minutes shooting it in different light.

I recognize the two sets of shadows - one on the wall and the other on the grass. Normally they would dominate if the surfaces were white stone or plaster. But there is too much rich detail distracting me from that potential drama.

Could be that I am interested in the concrete of the wall and the thin border made up of stones and mortar and then there are deciduous leaves - I say to myself, is this Saudi Arabia or perhaps Canada?

Then what's that red object lying along the end of the line of pebbles and mortar?

I would have to draw lines to replace what's there to realize better the composition or else it will appear to me in the morning! I am too alert and distracted by the details, LOL!

Must be my aging brain!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Andy brown

Active member
Alain, excellent reading.
Excuse the simple question, but do you go through all the colour channels in similar way to the example you used with the yellow?
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Tahnk you Andy. Yes, I do go through all the color channels. I only showed the yellow for simplicity's sake and because of space limitations.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Alain,


This is an excellent read and really worthwhile read! Even advanced photographers will enjoy it!

Is it better titled "Getting to rich sunset from daylight stitched-Grand Canyon pictures"?

Asher
Thank you Asher. Your title is more specific than mine. We could also say "Getting to rich sunset from daylight stitched-Grand Canyon pictures converted in lightroom, processed in photoshop, optimized with layers including curves, selective color, RUSM and more.' ;-)
 
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