composition help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by mykill, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. mykill

    mykill TPF Noob!

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    how do you experienced photographers go about taking your shots (placement and subject matter) i am very new and struggle shooting anything...i would just like some general pointers and overall help about subject matter and how to shoot it...

    sorry if i am not being clear
     
  2. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    I see alot of beginners that get stuck into the dead center composition trap. The idea for me is to make it interesting, so by changing the composition and/or angle gives a more interesting perspective. My suggestion would be to try to move your subject around in the viewfinder and find something different. Take a look at some photographers websites and find compositions that interest you. This may give you inspiration to try different things.

    Hope this is what you where looking for.
     
  3. JDS

    JDS TPF Noob!

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    One simple rule of thumb to follow is the rule of thirds. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board on your viewfinder/lcd screen as you compose your shot. Try putting your main subject on one of the intersections...
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    composition can not be summed up it twenty words or twenty thousand. It isn't the same thing everytime. For me and I've been doing this as an art or a job for well over thirty years, it's more about balance than anything else.

    The rule of thirds is often over stressed without a complete understanding of it. If you stick a subject on the right third of a frame but nothing in the other two thirds that is NOT good composition. The picture looks as though it will fall off the wall all by itself.

    To me the most often screwed composition is shooting and/or cropping verticle subject horizontal just because the camera frame or the computer monitor is a horizontal frame.

    Get yourself some books, Look at pictures that work for you, put three different items on a table tops and shoot them several times. Pick out what you think are the two best shots and post them here.

    Read, read, read, then shoot, shoot, shoot, Just one old school photographers advice.
     
  5. mykill

    mykill TPF Noob!

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    thank your for the advice...i really appreciate it and the how quickly you responded....ill try the table top bit now and post some pics here...

    and mystery do you have any suggestions on books to get?
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Not really, There are lots of people here who read Adams, I never liked Adams but he is one of the early authorities. My training tends to be more in the art side than the technical side.

    I had a rather hard to find set of Edward Weston daybooks. He wrote them as he day to day created his work. It was more about his feelings than any technique. Things like how trying to quit smoking tortured him. How even as he was creating masterful still life pictures, He was worried to death how he would make his next car payment.

    There was an interesting bit about how had his son built him a backdrop from playwood that could be tillted to change the color of it by capturing more sunlight or less depending on the mood he was trying to create. Just a passing remark that led me to understand the use of backgrounds a little better.

    I personally view old painting from the old masters. They tend to teach a lot about mood and composition of portriat. I do a lot of still life and it comes in handy.

    I shot a boat load of portraits over the years based on a set pattern of light and dark areas. The difference being only the faces of the people and the expressions on their face. I see a lot more drama in the portraits here than I produced for pay. I like the lighting I see here and appreciate the drama the photographers here create.

    I would say look at the pictures here as well and ask the shooter how he did it, but more importantly why he did it like that. If you ask that second question you both might learn something about the craft that moves you both forward a bit.

    As for posting I post good bad and ugly here. So don't be afraid to ask for critique it's a good thing. It is my opinion that everone should allow others to edit their pictures here. What that does is let the shooter see if anyone can improve on their work. That is always a good thing.

    Then get back on and ask "why did you do that?" If they cant answer you and/or you dont think it is really better then dismiss it out of hand. Being more experienced does not necessaryily make them right on every image. If you think it is better then take the lesson to heart. This can be your composition 101 class but only if you have patience.

    Let me add one more thing, understanding a picture is not always an easy thing. A painter friend of mine a few years ago sent to me see one of her painting at a gallery. I looked at the painting and it was just a nice little landscape and I was about to dismiss it, but as I turned to go something in the picture moved. Yes it was an illusion of movement. I looked harder and there seemed to be a movement again. Finally I looked very very close at the individual parts of the picture, Inside the green and yellows of the meadow grass she had inserted tiny flakes of red and purple. Not even noticeable when I viewed the painting from a normal distance. What those flakes did was translate in my brain as butterflies without me consiously seeing then. When I changed my perspective even slightly, they seemed to move. But I never actually saw the movement, my brain filled in the movement to explain why the butterflies were in a different view.

    That story probably makes no sense, except to say composition is not always what it seems to be. It can be a lot more complicated than it first appears.
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Take drawing, painting, and design classes. They put more effort into learning composition, and it can all be applied to photography.

    Here's a link to all sorts of articles on composition.

    http://photoinf.com/
     
  8. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    You can find some books at your local library. As Matt said, painting and drawing is very helpful. Get books by famous painters. There are quite a few books just about composition in photography, that will discuss in depth the different things to look for, like 3rds, leading lines, tangents, etc....
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    If you are going to take classes I'd take basic photography as well.
     
  10. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    This is some good advice. Most photography books you'd find at a library will give a good overview of composition rules. To Mysteryscribe's point though just think of these as guidelines. There won't be any steadfast rule that is the golden ticket to better pics but if you can keep these "rules" in mind while out shooting pics you should be able to judge what looks better and what doesn't. You will find there are instances where the pic looks better by ignoring the rules.

    The one thing I try to ask myself before taking a shot is "What is my subject and why is it interesting?". It sounds basic but I find it helps sort out some of the lamer pics I might take on impulse.

    As long as you do a bit of reading and put some thought into your shots instead of randomly snapping the shutter you should notice an improvement.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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  12. mykill

    mykill TPF Noob!

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    thank you for the links and the comments....

    you guys are great....and do a great job of making ppl feel welcome :D
     

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