Composition

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by three_eyed_otter, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. three_eyed_otter

    three_eyed_otter TPF Noob!

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    When I look at photos I notice that sometimes the photo has cut off part of a body part (e.g., the top of a head, an elbow, etc.). Is this considered good composition or not, or is all up to personal preference?

    have a good one
    3Eo
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Pretty much.

    There are some 'compositional' rules...but this is an art form and rules were made to be broken. Of course, it helps to understand the rules before you break them.

    One rule is to avoid cropping through a joint...so don't cut the image off at someones elbow...either cut it off at the forearm, upper arm or don't cut it off at all.
     
  3. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I get mad at myself any time I accidentally cut off someone's feet (which I consider to be extremely "snapshottish"), but on the other hand we once had a TPF Photo Challenge (at the time still provided by Corry) on "fill the frame" for which I took a photo of my daughter's face that I had fill the frame completely, which means, of course, that at the top, to the left, to the right and below EVERYTHING that was part of her head but not of her face was "cut off". For that challenge I did it on purpose.

    When you stop taking photos of the entire body of a person (a portrait, for example), you HAVE TO cut off parts of that person's body, that is quite self-evident, isn't it?

    I put out your self-same question in connection with a particular photo I had just taken at the time, photo and the ensuing "discussion" (there was none, I'm afraid, just comments, most of them made by myself) - if you are interested- are here .
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Composition comes down to what looks good. Trace over the photo with your eye very carefully. If you find your gaze wandering down the pants onto the shoe laces, and then dammit that's the edge of the frame, then the shoes would probably have been important.

    Balance what you want to show, with what should be in the picture. Sometime a photo with a foot cut off can be saved simply by zooming in and cutting a lot more off.
     
  5. three_eyed_otter

    three_eyed_otter TPF Noob!

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    I am finding myself a bit annoyed as I look @ photos and find things cut out that I really feel should be in the photo (e.g., a couple--the womans face is completely w/in the frame and then I look over to the man and his head is cutoff just above his hairline). The thing that really bugs me about a photo like this is that, at first, I get lost in the moment that the photo is capturing and then poof it's all gone because so is part of the guys head.:soapbox::raisedbrow:

    It's kind of funny because I can only think of examples w/humans in the photos. I don't see any photos where a horses ear is cut out or where the tower of a building is cutoff at the apex.

    have a good one
    3Eo
     
  6. ksmattfish

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

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    You should compose your photos as you deem best. While there are plenty of common composition suggestions, there are plenty of examples of wonderful 2D art that blatantly disregard those suggestions.

    The only one I really try to follow myself is the don't crop at body joints, although I'm sure I do it occasionally. I think the reason why this can look funny is that we think of our body as parts connected, and it's too easy to perceive a crop right at a joint as severing the limb.

    In a close up portrait of one person or a couple it's often the eyes or face that is the main subject. The rest of the head(s) becomes part of the background. I'm usually more concerned where the eyes are placed in the composition, than if the top of the head gets cropped.

    One of the earliest assignments I remember in design class (for anyone who hasn't taken design class it's a beginning art class that teaches basic concepts of tone, color, and composition) is to make drawings where the subject is composed so that it breaks at least three of the four image sides. In photography this is often referred to as "filling the frame". To fill the frame it's usually necessary to crop some of the subject. Obviously you shouldn't crop parts of the subject that are important.
     
  7. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Otter....If you look at 'big Mikes' avatar, you will see that the top of his head is cutoff from view. Also the left (his right) hand is cut off at a mid-point. His left hand however is cut off at the knuckles.

    The first 2 are acceptable as they do not interfere with his primary facial features or the main focal point which is his T-shirt emblem. The 3rd one violates the 'cut off at a joint' guideline.

    My avatar, on the other hand, is quite perfect in every respect and is above reproach or criticism.
     
  8. Groupcaptainbonzo

    Groupcaptainbonzo TPF Noob!

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    In the days of film. I used to have a Viewfinder which reproduced about 87% of the view on the film. This meant that I could compose my image in the viewfinder, knowing that I was pretty safe in that if I wished to extend the image, it was on the film (Unless I had made a REAL BooBoo..And I have to admit that I made a few of those....). When I printed the neg I could crop it to fit the image that I had envisaged.
    When going digital I didn't have that luxury as most digital cameras had 2 or 3, at best 4 megapixels. It was a good discipline and taught me to be more careful.
    Now however we have 10 or 20 Megapixels or so. and we can afford to be generous again.... (Swings and roundabouts..). So, take an image that you thought was at best mediocre. and crop bits here and there. Just experiment. Some you will find, look like a small part of a really ordinary picture (Could be a reason behind that). And some will be a real improvement. Do a few squares, a few letter box shapes. some at an angle ... Anything that you can think of. in the process you will teach yourself some "rules" as to what works and what doesn't. (And most importantly of all, What happens when you break them. which can be good as well.).

    Short answer..

    Yes. It's often personal preference..

    Last hint:-
    If you make images to impress yourself, then at least one person in the world likes them.
    If you make images to impress others, then maybe no-one will like them.....(Ask Tracey Emmin)
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :er:
    Well, I do have an excuse...I didn't take the image in question...so I can't be blamed.
    Not to mention that the can in the image is filled with a delicious liquid that is 5% alcohol.

    Well, the focal point of the image seems to be the lens...and it's pretty well centred...which makes for a boring composition. How's that? :D
     
  10. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Good one Mike ! and now that I look at it, your right.
     
  11. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    While my avatar is not the rear end of a horse, depicting me, I think it's fine for a photog. as a nosy, snooping watcher... :lmao:

    Cutting off body parts? Does Jack the Ripper visit this forum?

    As everyone else already answered, it depends on what you are trying to do. If it's a portrait, you may only have head and shoulders. For cars, it's kind of funny. Nose to center or 3/4 is OK, but center to back, missing the front, seems to look like a mistake and unattractive. However is someone crops just to the center, then it's OK again.

    If it looks good and balanced, it's right. I don't know of any hard and fast rules. Yes, if you cut people off at the ankles, it looks poor in general. Above the knees, is fine. I don't know! :lol:
     
  12. three_eyed_otter

    three_eyed_otter TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the insight! It's well appreciated. I think I'll go bust some knee caps now:confused:

    have a good one
    3Eo
     

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