Compositional Rules?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Battou, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    God dammit, I am sick of making the same mistakes over and over again resulting in wasted time. When I attended photography classes I never really payed attention during composition theroy. I was too busy drawing pictures instead of learning how to take pictures and now I am beginning to regret it.


    Please, take some time and explain to me some of the compositional rules. Please, feel free to post examples along with explinations ifins you could.


    Also don't bother with the rule of thirds....I am well aware of that one, don't need it.
     
  2. dseidman

    dseidman TPF Noob!

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    To tell you the truth, the only rule I can even remember is the one you have already mentioned.
    A quick Google search found this:
    How to Make a Killer Photo using 8 Simple Composition Rules

    I'd say just practice sticking strictly to these rules for awhile and eventually you won't need them anymore. I don't even think about rules when I'm composing a shot. It just becomes naturally with some practice.
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Rule 1: There are no rules, disregard rules 2 and 3.
    Rule 2: Rule of thirds, keep interesting subjects on the intersections of frame thirds.
    Rule 3: When not using rule of thirds, fill the frame with the subject.
    Rule 4: See Rule 1.

    Really the only rule that should exist is make an interesting photo. It's up to your style to what you find interesting. If you know you're making mistakes then you should be able to train yourself to avoid them.
     
  4. dseidman

    dseidman TPF Noob!

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    Agreed. I feel rules are good just as guidelines for learning. You'll develop your own preferences and style over time.
     
  5. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Want to learn about composition? Good. Here's how to go about it.

    [WARNING!! What follows is most certainly not a list of rules!]

    Begin by going to your library and getting out books on composition. It matters not whether they're for oil painters, watercolorists, those working on paper in pastels or charcoal or pencil or color photography or b&w. [In photography, Freeman's 'The Photographer's Eye' comes to mind.]

    Then look, and read. Relate what the author writes to the illustrations. Go back and get more books. Repeat.

    You'll find [surprise!] that there are really no hard and fast rules, but rather a whole batch, ftntm, of guidelines. As you continue to read and internalize these guidelines, look at books of photographs -- Steichen's 'The Family of Man' and any of the 'Life' compilations are good starting points. Look carefully at those photographs which stand out and try to see, compositionally, why they 'work' for you. This will help you to 'fix' the guidelines in your mind.

    With time, you'll develop a mental 'toolkit' of guidelines, hints and tips. They'll run in the background of your mind just as programs are running in the background of your 'puter as you read this.

    Whenever you're wandering about with a rig, whether DSLR, film or pinhole, these internalized guidelines willl, somewhat mysteriously, pop up ideas as to how to go about putting a frame about what you see. It's rather like playing chess -- you select a certain series of moves from the uncounted billions available without knowing exactly why they will 'work'. But they will. And like chess, no-one begins at the master player level.
     
  6. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    If you want to be a commercial photographer or learn technical composition, then perhaps you should regret not paying attention, otherwise pick up a few books on graphic design if you want to be told how to make a photograph.

    A photographer interested in art photographs by feel and intuition, something that can not and should not be taught. It is discovered by doing and personal growth.
     
  7. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is the basic jist of it right there. It's not necessarily wanting to shoot commercial photography but emulating commercial photography at the very least is something I am finding interest in. When I was in class I was there to learn how to use the camera, commercial photography or anything resembling it was not my goal at the time, but I can take a picture of a scratch in a cars clear coat or a dent on a white car if I needed to.

    The last two attempts I have made in that effort I made the same friggen mistake drawing attention away from the intended focus, the first one was a contrasting black pen on a white surface in the background of a predominately amber setting and the most reasent was a set of white lines leading into a large white space to the right of a black subject.
     
  8. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Composition in photography, painting, drawing, or any other art form is the same ... isn't it? It is all about placing objects within a defined space.

    btw... I really hate the term "rule of thirds"... it isn't a rule.. more like a suggestion.
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    But there is conventional thinking.

    We often hear one must learn and understand the "rules" before breaking them. This is just another way to say when one breaks from convention and thinks "outside the box," one should be fully aware of it.

    I've heard a story about a judge at a PPA competion critiquing a photograph said, "This is an example of a photographer who remembered to be different, but forgot to be good."

    Many people (many clients) are quite comfortable inside the box.

    And even though the shape and size of the box is ever changing, much of the conventional thinking is rather sound.

    -Pete
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    Rather than finding rules, guidelines or tips on composition...I think the key is learning to visualize your image. Much of the time, we can pick out the compositional flaws in our images...sooner or later. It seems that the problem here is that you are picking them out, well after the photo shoot is over.
    Try forcing/training yourself to evaluate the image in the viewfinder before you shoot...or at the very least, on the LCD right after.

    It's quite easy to get caught up thinking about certain aspects of the images...exposure and lighting for example...and completely forget about something else, like composition. If you can consciously slow yourself down and remember to evaluation your composition while shooting...I think it can be a big step in the right direction.
     
  11. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Re-read what BigMike wrote.

    Feel your subject. Taste it, smell it. Savor the emotion about it you want to convey and then make it look like that. And then take the shot.

    If it doesn't live in you, it won't live outside of you either.
     
  12. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This should be done sitting cross-legged on the floor, candles lit, incense burning, chanting the mantra, "[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZhrKr09MWg&feature=related"]Come into focus[/ame], come into focus...."

    -Pete
     

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