What makes a good photograph in digital photography?


TPF Noob!
Jun 6, 2013
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Hi guys, here is an assignment I have just done for my school research project. Here are the results that I obtained:


The most important factor that creates a good photograph in digital photography is composition, however subject matter and computer editing are also factors that will influence the intrigue and the quality of the photograph.<o:p></o:p>
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Key Finding Number 1: COMPOSITION<o:p></o:p>
Composition is the causal element that if used correctly will produce a good photograph. Without it, a pictures impact would be lost, no matter how provocative the subject is (Peterson, 1988). The laws of composition lay the foundations for good looking art in general (Lowe, 2013). These principles of design govern the placement and structure of an image (Bear, n.d).<o:p></o:p>
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Line describes a shape or outline and creates texture (Bartell,2012). The most common line rule referred to in photography is the diagonal or horizontal line rule. Having a horizontal or a diagonal line is more intriguing than vertical lines. This is because they keep attention for longer as people read horizontally across the page (Rockwell, n.d). Therefore Linear elements such as roads placed diagonally along a photograph are perceived as more dynamic than vertically placed ones (Anon,n.d).

Rule of thirds:
Dividing the photograph into thirds and placing the subject into one of the third lines makes the photograph interesting, as it is more appealing to the eye than if the object is placed in the centre of the image (Williams, n.d.). Placing the subject in the centre creates a static feeling, making the viewer feel tense (Hedgecoe, 1994).

Symmetry is very easy and attractive to look at. When perfect symmetry is disrupted by something, this immediately becomes the point of focus. For example the bucket in the corner of this photograph (Williams, n.d).

When a photograph is close, but not perfectly symmetrical, immediate attention will be drawn to the imperfection. This can enhance or destroy an image (Rockwell, n.d). This have a destructive effect on an image was displayed in the results of the survey when the participants were asked which photograph they preferred and why, 35% commented that they did not like Brendan Richards photograph because of ‘the angle the shot was taken from (not symmetrical)’ or similar.
Framing makes the image lighter, drawing the eye to the middle of the image where the subject is (Williams, n.d). This means that no lines should lead out of the image, prohibiting the viewers eye from wondering from the focus (Rockwell, n.d). Framing the image limits the field of view and calls attention to the subject. This also creates perspective, bringing a sense of depth to a composition (Peterson, 1988).

The situation of colour in a photograph is fundamental as it is the colours in a scene that initially grab the viewerÂ’s attention (Hedgecoe, 1994). Colour has three properties; chroma, intensity and value. The colour wheel is a way of showing the chromatic scale in a circle (Bartell, 2012).

Complimentary pairs (colours which are next to one another on the wheel) will create a comfortable, relaxing vibe. These include reds and yellows or yellows and greens. Contrasting colours (those which are opposite to one another on the wheel) include orange and blue or magenta and green (Ephotozine, 2012). These will stand out when placed next to each other and appeal more dramatic:
Lighting is the most important element of composition as it dictates the degree of contrast and the line and colour that draws the eye to an image (Bartell, 2012). A broad light source lessens shadows, reduces contrast and suppressing texture whereas a narrow light source does the opposite. Front lighting de-emphasizes texture however lighting from the side, above or below emphasizes it. Any surface that light bounces off will add to its colour. The colour of early morning and late afternoon sunlight is warm in tone, while open shade at midday is bluish (Richards, 2013). In the survey, the strong lighting that illuminates the colours was displayed to be the main reason of why people liked my photograph over Brendan Richards, 95% of the participants saying they liked my image because of the ‘lighting’ or the colours used that were enhanced by the lighting.

Simplifying a pictures visual elements helps to satisfy the viewers need to identify the subject (Peterson, 1988). This means having a strong point of focus, otherwise the viewerÂ’s eyes wonÂ’t settle. Without a focal point, there is nothing to draw them into the photo (Rockwell, n.d). Contrasting colours can make the focal point pop and complementary colours can ease the background (Ephotozine, 2012). Making a photo more complicated takes away from the focal point (Rockwell, n.d).

35% of the people who did not like Brendan Richards photograph commented that it was because the cluttered colours and objects in the background distracted from the focal point of the image.<o:p></o:p>
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The photographer Brendan Richards knew nothing of compositional structure, and when his photograph of the fountain in Rundell Mall was compared to mine, 95% of the participants preferred my photograph that used the above techniques. I found that these vital composition guidelines were not taught at Adelaide photography TAFE courses, which instead just taught the ‘technical skills’ (TAFE SA, n.d). When interviewing Jane Kennett (an attendant of a 2012 TAFE photography VET course at Marden Senior College), she stated the course taught her how ‘to edit photographs on Photoshop and Lightroom’ and how to use the camera, adjusting ‘aperture and exposure’. However she thought that visual arts ‘taught me how to think artistically’ and therefore helped her to develop better photographs rather than this VET course(Kennett, 2013).<o:p></o:p>
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Key Finding Number 2: EDITING PROCESS<o:p></o:p>
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A good editing process enhances the most prominent structural elements of an image and does not hinder the imageÂ’s effect. However without a good compositional structure, there is no matter how good the editing is, the photograph will not be appealing (Rockwell, n.d). Most photographic editing is done on the two computer manipulation programs Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. These programs mimic all of the options that one could do with a photograph that they could do if they had every lens, every filter and utilised the operations in there camera (Bottoms, 2012).<o:p></o:p>
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Over editing: <o:p></o:p>
There is no way to easily say if a photograph is over edited as it depends on the intent of the photographer. However if the photography appears unnatural and clearly edited this is an indication (Shutterstock, 2010). Therefore an example of perfect editing would be to enhance the prominent structural components of the photograph already. <o:p></o:p>

Editing light:
In Lightroom and Photoshop, the lighting of the photograph can be edited by adjusting various measures. As lighting is a fundamental part in determining other compositional elements such as colour, editing is important in digital photography to achieve the desired effect.
The natural light in the foreground of this photograph was prohibiting the detail to be displayed, however when edited to emulate the light that would appear at an earlier time of day and the background of a later time of day, it displays a lot more detail to be appreciated. (Bottom, 2012)<o:p></o:p>
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Key Finding Number 3: SUBJECT<o:p></o:p>
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The importance of subject is dependent on the type of photography. For the most of photography, it is never about the subject. Subjects are chosen because they support or create a structure, providing the shapes or colours to lay down the basic designs of an image (Rockwell, n.d).<o:p></o:p>
<o:p>Subject is especially important in specific photography such as portraiture or wedding photography for example. When the subject is being themselves, this can never be re-done. Subjects add a whole new dimension to the photograph (Christian, 2009). Subject can connect with an audience the way that structure cannot, making the viewer nostalgic or emotional (Stubbs, 2009). However the same photograph of a subject would not be as touching if it had no compositional structure, it would be just another photograph of a person or an animal (Rockwell, n.d). As displayed in Brendan and my photograph of the same subject (a water fountain) where 95% of the people surveyed preferred my photograph because of the composition.<o:p></o:p>
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Compositional structure makes good art in digital photography. Without a sound structure, the subject matter and the editing of the image will not create a good photograph.<o:p></o:p>
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She mentions emotion in Key Finding Number 3: Subject.

Anyway to the op: I quite like your article though it would have been nice to be able to see the images you talk about. I've got one major gripe with it though, which is percentages of people who liked your photograph are meaningless without context - you need to tell us how many people were involved in your survey, what question you asked and how the photographs were presented so we can decide how relevent that is. I also think that if you are quoting references you need to tell us where you got them from, not just quoting a name and date.

Other than that pretty good job IMO
For an essay of this size, it looks pretty good to me. I could quibble over this and that, but it would be quibbling about details.

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