The "Golden Section" versus the "Rule of Thirds."

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jwbryson1

jwbryson1

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I'm more interested in this "expert in composition". Where do I get certified?

I don't think there is a certification, as you humorlessly suggest, but I would argue that anybody who has a degree in architecture from a top university, who received the highest award given by the university for their work in the field, and who has a masters degree in art and composition, and who teaches art as a university professor, is as close to an "expert" in the field as you will find.
 
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Derrel

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A lot of B.S. gets passed along, repeated ad nauseum, and even utter B.S.can come to be accepted as "truth". Even college professors and architecture schools keep repeating utter garbage. a few minutes searching for thorough examinations of some of these "ancient principles" will turn up papers that show the "ancient" concepts are...well...bullspit, as Buckster often call it...

Like the idea that the Great Pyramid at Giza follows a mathematically perfect layout...the CLAIMS have been made for hundreds of years, but modern electronic survey methods show that the old so-called "golden measurements" and their "proof" of an ancient adherence to a "golden" ideal of proportion and aspect ration....are utter, total... bullspit...

The Golden Section Hypothesis: A Critical Look » Naturography ? Nature Photography By Mike Spinak


http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.23...2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102542003987


http://meandering-through-mathematics.blogspot.com/2012/02/applications-of-golden-mean-to.html
 

imagemaker46

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imagemaker46 - we get that you never formally learned artistic theory; just as you likely started out never formally learning photography. But you grew up in a household with a photographer who was more than just a product photographer. Thus that influence guided your childhood - you learned without realising that you learned. You studied photos and mirrored what you saw in them in your own work - and since you viewed a wide variety your influences were thus broader than most (remember most people don't really "look" at photos or art; they just glance at them without pausing to really see or learn how to see how the elements of the photo work and don't work). **

When a child draws a picture you could apply most of these 'rules' to the vast majority of their sketches. I would say 80% of the drawings my 4 year old niece does would fit into the rule of thirds. It's not a rule, it's the way your mind works.

Compositional theories/guidelines/rules are just that - they are the summary of theories based upon observation of popular artistic works and the aim of understanding those patterns in life that we find pleasing to view. It's no surprise that we see similar patterns in creative art that we also see mirrored in life itself since our environment and life around us likely influences us greatly in what we find to be pleasing.

Yes there are new and old theories and some conflict, but the fact that many theories do work and that many are seen time and time again in works of art lends to the suggestion that the theories do work.

As for the notion of breaking and using rules remember its not a game of rules. Some here hear and read about composition but get terribly distracted by the single word "rule" when its used. They latch on and suddenly the compositional theory is lost out the window as it becomes a game of following or not following the rules (where upon several groups rise up with those who mindlessly follow and those who mindlessly refuse to follow or break the "rules").

As said many times there are no "RULES". There are one or two theories called things like "rule of thirds" but its not a rule. It's a compositional theory that aims to allow one to understand some of the science and theory behind what humans find visually pleasing within a selected frame of existence (ergo a painting, a sculpture, a photo). Learning them simply helps to broaden ones visual library of options to compose and create with; you can just as easily learn it by copy and repeat of famous works; but often understanding the theory is actually superior. That is because when you understand some of why the theory is supposed to work you can use that underlaying concept to build into your photos and use the concept itself in different ways.

The biggest thing though is to get the idea of rules out of your mind. Think of them at theories; take time to learn some; take time to experiment and play around and remember that much like when you learned exposure, the learning will feel like following a formula - like repeating over and over and like its filling your mind when you go to shoot. Then one day it won't be - it will slip to the back of your mind and become more instinctive and from that you'll be able to be far more creative within your photography (provided you allow yourself to be rather htan simply finding something that works and repeating it over and over).



Edit
** let me clarify that I'm not talking down about any form of learning. Formal learning of a subject is not the only way to learn and in no way is superior or inferior; it is just a different approach. There are many ways to learn and any way can be very in-depth and detailed. Formal methods tend to be more commonly promoted online simply because its very hard to tutor something in a subject that is very hands on like photography in a remote sense without writing books worth of content (at which point pointing toward formally written books helps a lot in saving fingers from pages of typing).

Heck many who learn from their parents at a young age might never have a degree in their subject of interest or any formal learning, but they can often be very experienced and well known within their field.


My Mother bought my Dad his first camera, he had never taken a picture in his life and was self taught, he learned without reading books etc. There was never any discussion about rules, not that I can remember. As I said before, the first time I heard about a rule of thirds was on this forum, some three decades after working as a photographer. I expect that how to compose an image without thinking just came with what I thought looked right. Learning never stops, I have remembered more about how I used to shoot, different techniques I used to use, that I stopped doing, from other photographers that have just started trying to do them. It has made me realize that the longer a person shoots the more likely they get lazy in the way they shoot, taking it for granted and sticking with what always worked, but forgetting that some of what used to work can still surprise people because it looks different.
 

amolitor

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An interesting fact about composition is this:

We compose pictures to appeal to others, to make pictures that inform, or whatever. The point of the composition is to aid in making something about the picture accessible to others, to other human beings generally within the same society that the photographer lives in.

So you, as a human being in your society, in theory have all you need to make compositions. Rules, standard, processes, whatever. If it looks good, it IS good. This is not, however, the same as saying "aw heck, anyone can do it by instinct, just reach out with your feelings" -- far from it.

You need, generally, some help.

The first thing you need to do is "normalize" your taste, which is to say you need to understand what your society sees, likes, understands as visual art. You don't have to like the same stuff everyone else does, but you should at some level understand it. This basically means "go look at a bunch of pictures, mostly good ones, and think about them"

The second thing you need to do is get some grasp of the elements that affect how people see pictures, how your society interprets, feels, connects with pictures. This includes basic obvious semiotics like The Cross as a christian reference, but also the use of lines, the ideas of balance and visual weight, and so on.

Some people CAN just do it by instinct, or can do enough of it. We all, mostly, have the stuff inside us to do it by virtue of being people who look at and connect with pictures, just like our audience. Most of us need some help turning that raw material into skills capable not of connecting with pictures, but of making pictures that people will connect with. Not everyone does, but most of us do.

Not everyone is going to get the same results, either. We cannot all be concert pianists. Most of us can learn to play the piano passably, a few cannot. A few of us need almost no help at all to be incredible pianists. Ditto all matters in which taste and emotion play a role.

Pretty much anyone can learn to, just to pick an example, focus stack to a very very high level of technical excellence. You simply work away at it until you get it right. NOT everyone can learn to make truly excellent compositions. Most of us are fated to get pretty good at it, at best. Pretty good is still pretty good, though! And there will be moments of excellence.
 

The_Traveler

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I expect that how to compose an image without thinking just came with what I thought looked right. Learning never stops, I have remembered more about how I used to shoot, different techniques I used to use, that I stopped doing, from other photographers that have just started trying to do them. It has made me realize that the longer a person shoots the more likely they get lazy in the way they shoot, taking it for granted and sticking with what always worked, but forgetting that some of what used to work can still surprise people because it looks different.

me, too.

This is an excellent thread and could/should be retitled and made a sticky.
 

The_Traveler

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An interesting fact about composition is this:

We compose pictures to appeal to others, to make pictures that inform, or whatever. The point of the composition is to aid in making something about the picture accessible to others, to other human beings generally within the same society that the photographer lives in.

So you, as a human being in your society, in theory have all you need to make compositions. Rules, standard, processes, whatever. If it looks good, it IS good. This is not, however, the same as saying "aw heck, anyone can do it by instinct, just reach out with your feelings" -- far from it.

You need, generally, some help.

The first thing you need to do is "normalize" your taste, which is to say you need to understand what your society sees, likes, understands as visual art. You don't have to like the same stuff everyone else does, but you should at some level understand it. This basically means "go look at a bunch of pictures, mostly good ones, and think about them"

The second thing you need to do is get some grasp of the elements that affect how people see pictures, how your society interprets, feels, connects with pictures. This includes basic obvious semiotics like The Cross as a christian reference, but also the use of lines, the ideas of balance and visual weight, and so on.


Some people CAN just do it by instinct, or can do enough of it. We all, mostly, have the stuff inside us to do it by virtue of being people who look at and connect with pictures, just like our audience. Most of us need some help turning that raw material into skills capable not of connecting with pictures, but of making pictures that people will connect with. Not everyone does, but most of us do.

Not everyone is going to get the same results, either. We cannot all be concert pianists. Most of us can learn to play the piano passably, a few cannot. A few of us need almost no help at all to be incredible pianists. Ditto all matters in which taste and emotion play a role.

Pretty much anyone can learn to, just to pick an example, focus stack to a very very high level of technical excellence. You simply work away at it until you get it right. NOT everyone can learn to make truly excellent compositions. Most of us are fated to get pretty good at it, at best. Pretty good is still pretty good, though! And there will be moments of excellence.

To say I agree with the above in bold black is understating the case. What Andy has written is the very core of how I see successful photography being done.

What he says in the bold red is something in a different vein. Really good photography takes some talent.
Just the acquisition of skills is not enough.
With the innate smartness of digital cameras standing in for so much of the skills acquisition, we see many more photographers quickly getting to the point at which their further progress is limited by their level of talent.
What new photographers can't see or understand is that jumping off place from skillful to talented. Witness the number of posts linking to a top level image and asking, essentially, 'what button do I press to get this'?
 

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7 reasons why 'composition' is like sex


  • thinking about either one in the abstract isn't very rewarding because, in reality, there are always situations, objects and people to deal with
  • when one is new at either, style and planning aren't usually issues to be thought about
  • there are 'rules' in the abstract about how to arrange things and where important things are placed in both, but in reality, if everything works out well, no one really cares
  • it's nice if one person likes the final end product and is satisfied but if someone else is satisfied also, that's really terrific
  • different styles in execution are possible but generally one falls back one one's main preference.
  • you can do it well by accident once or twice but doing it well consistently takes work and thought
  • however satisfying it is, one always wants to try it again
 
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Ilovemycam

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I have to wonder...if you need a computer to crop your pix. What are you guys and gals going to do on the street? You got to compose in 2 or 3 blinks of the eye? No computer to compose for you.
 

pixmedic

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I have to wonder...if you need a computer to crop your pix. What are you guys and gals going to do on the street? You got to compose in 2 or 3 blinks of the eye? No computer to compose for you.

Shoot wide and crop.
The computer doesnt do the composition, just the cropping. The photographer still has to point the camera in the right direction.
 

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