Composition Techniques Discussion

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dominantly, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    I just wanted to open a forum to discuss composition techniques, notably for large structures. I find it to be a fairly difficult task to nail consistently. I end up shooting from all different angles and depths with a mindset I'll get a couple keepers. Then I try and learn from those so I can go back and use similar practices.

    I recently went to an old Mission where I found some pretty awesome ruins that were huge, but I experienced overload as I couldn't really find a way to capture the scenes/feelings the way I wanted.


    Here is a shot I took pulled way back to show what was the "Great Stone Church" that collapsed in 1812 During mass because of a quake. The doors lodged shut and about 40 people inside were killed. The history makes this an interesting subject for me, so I plan on going back shortly to focus on just shooting and not family time.

    [​IMG]

    I cropped this mainly to get the small boy more attention. I thought his tiny frame with this giant structure looked cool.

    [​IMG]

    Any tips?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  2. C-Towner

    C-Towner TPF Noob!

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    I think the crop works very well. Your intent is really easy to see, and it is a well composed photo. In the original image, the boy was too small to draw interest to him, and there was not as much impact.
     
  3. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure what you're asking because we can't really help you with the composition without knowing what your intent/feelings were but I can tell you that sometimes you will have a hard time finding that composition that satisfies you. We all do. Some things, imo, just don't photograph well but I don't think it is a problem specific to large structures.

    Intent is important in the sense that I do not necessarily compose an image the same if it is intended as "art" or as documentation of the structure. "Art" will need to become the most beautiful photo you can get that still gives a good idea to the viewer as to what the place is. Documentation is more about showing the place for what it is without necessarily being beautiful. Great if it is though.

    If I'm at a place like this, especially if I can't go back any day I want to, I would shoot it every which way possible. This way, no matter how you end up using the images, you have one that fits the intent.

    Now, I don't like your crop that much because of the sliver of sky. I would prefer to see a bit more of it. And of course it would be nice if it was a nicer one. You could crop the bottom to the base of the column and add this much more sky, for example.

    Cheers.
     
  4. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    Great info, thank you for posting. I really was just posting to see what other people could say about composing for large structures. I mean do you try and encompass everything, or do you select points of interest and then compose around them? Is there anything you can see in the photo that would have interested you enough to spend time shooting?

    I didn't really have any specific direction in mind when I was there, I just became overwhelmed with the history and the size of everything.
    I did have the sudden urge to shoot with the Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye, I think it would have helped me along with the composure of a few shots.

    I am about 45mins away from this place, so I posted a thread to see if we can get a group do head over there and do some shooting sometime in the next couple weeks. Hopefully if I stare at these enough, I'll have a plan of action when I head back.

    Here are a couple more.
    This one was to the immediate left, it was probably right at the side entrance of the church
    [​IMG]

    Then this one on the right corner.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    To be honest, when I'm somewhere I'm either a photographer and I shoot the hell out of the place so that any possible future use is covered (that's probably a stock habit) or, I'm just a tourist and I'll enjoy the place without a thought to photography past getting some snaps for the family album :lol:

    And yes I see things of interest. The place is interesting. But then again I'm big into history.

    Maybe a way to get ideas on how to do this is to pick one famous place and then do a search on the web and look at all the photos you can find. Then go get a book on the same subject from your library and see how the subject is treated in that way. That should get you started.

    Again, it really depends on the intent. Are you a photographer or a tourist? I find it hard to be both at the same time myself and when I'm a tourist I used to only carry a small Olympus XA and now a digital P&S.
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    (Boy shot) Compositionally, I would say that your camera angle produces a rather flat image. I would move in closer and shoot from a low diagonal angle toward the boy even with his eyes height wise and using a wide angle focal length of about 24mm to 28mm.

    skieur
     
  7. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    I right there with ya'.
    Specifically about the "history" part; it was crazy to stand there where the church pews once sat, and people were sitting during the mass as the roof caved in. I mean could you imagine what they thought when they went to the doors and they were stuck shut? For people in that say in age they probably thought it was a deliberate act of god or something...
     
  8. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    I agree.
    I didn't really shoot it with him in mind, he was bouncing all around so instead of catching the shot with him running around, I quickly snagged it with him still :lol: I wish his parents could contained him a bit more:er:

    If it was my kid, I think I would have loved to shoot a similar shot, only with a Fisheye right behind him, to get that wide, expansive feel the 180degrees of coverage gives you.
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Btw, I forgot my favorite suggestion. Take a design class. Photo composition books are nice but they tend to not cover a lot of things that are not considered related to photo and that is a loss. I found being in a classroom helpful in that you get the reaction of your prof and fellow students and it made it easier to get some of the concepts. Something you wouldn't get from just reading books.
     

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