To illustrate, probe, demonstrate and refute guides
or schemes for enhancing composition of pictures.
Free wheeling social discussion and anecdotes,
will likely be moved here.
Every time I hear people say that there are no rules to producing good photography, or even worse there are no composition rules, I can only smile. Of course the making of a photograph can serve many goals. One may want to evoke a feeling, or just document a happening. But for those who want to earn their keep, or even just want to make more appealing images, the saying "beauty sells" will have an attractive ring to it. It becomes interesting if we realise that most people recognize 'beauty' instinctively and instantly, and that there are indeed rules. When we realise that there are rules, we can try and use them to make our images more "beautiful", or by deviating from the rules perhaps create something a bit unsettling (if that's the emotion we are after).
Here is a short lecture by Chris McManus, professor of psychology at the University College London, a fascinating lecture about the difference between looking and seeing. He uses some of Piet Mondriaan's later paintings to get his message across. It was recorded in the Netherlands and (unfortunately) has a Dutch intro and subtitles for the TV broadcast, so just skip the intro and go to 1:07 and enjoy (you can also skip the 2 following contributions in Dutch in that video if you like):
Interesting stuff, isn't it?
P.S. Here are some related papers by Prof. McManus, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medical-education/reprints/1997EmpiricalStudiesArts-GoldenSection.PDF and "Beyond the golden section".
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