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Author Topic: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"  (Read 4129 times)

RSL

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2018, 03:56:06 PM »

+1

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2018, 04:16:32 PM »

... It doesn't hurt, here, to have some people point things out about pictures for you. Some stuff is there but it pretty hard to consciously notice unless you have someone pointing things out...

Really!? Who would have thought!?

Quote
...Turning all this material into a #3, well, you cannot algorithmize it....

And who ever said it could be or should be algorithmized!?

You (et al) are just gloriously defeating a straw man of your own making.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2018, 04:19:35 PM »

You think we learnt by rote, from primers or were encouraged to follow rules?

Far from it, we worked hard and were to encouraged to find our own way.

I wasn't thinking anything along those lines, I was simply asking. By failing to answer, you are actually confirming my point: you first had to learn something from the collective historic experience of other artists in order to "find your own way."

amolitor

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2018, 04:23:15 PM »

I will point out that the original piece literally has a flow chart in it for composing pictures, apart from the usual rot about "put the subject here, put the subject there" that it is infested with.

I submit that I did not invent the idea of algorithmizing composition.
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KLaban

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2018, 04:47:18 PM »

You never went to any art school? You just started painting?

OK, in direct answer to your question, yes I went to art school and yes we were encouraged to do that, just get on with it. It was impressed upon us that very little could be taught and that we should find ourselves before finding our own way.

Very 60s but very effective.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2018, 05:25:11 PM »

... we were encouraged to do that, just get on with it...

And it took four years of “just getting on with it”? Boy, what a waste of time and money. Just buy brushes and paint and “get on with it” on your own instead.

Rob C

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #26 on: August 09, 2018, 05:25:24 PM »

There's a bunch of different things that tend to get conflated here, largely by photographers who because they tend to lean a bit technophile are charmed by the idea of algorithmic approaches to what are essentially emotional problems.

1. How to people perceive things, especially pictures of things?
2. What properties do pictures have?
3. What should I do when I take a picture?

The photographer in search of rules is interested, of course, in #3. People seeking to provide such rules to sell their book or promote their web site, gleefully gather up items from #1 and #2 and file the serial numbers off, presenting them as #3. Often, as in the case of Leading Lines and the Rule of Thirds, they haven't even got them from category 1, they're just made up entirely, but presented as if they were fundamental laws of perception.

Now, knowing how people perceive things, and understanding properties of existing good pictures, these are great ideas. You don't need to be able to apply words to any of it, though. You perceive things much the same way others do, so you can knock off #1 simply by paying attention. #2 requires that you actually look at pictures, and pay rather more attention. It doesn't hurt, here, to have some people point things out about pictures for you. Some stuff is there but it pretty hard to consciously notice unless you have someone pointing things out.

Turning all this material into a #3, well, you cannot algorithmize it. You can't just learn the properties of flour, water, salt, leavenings, sweeteners, and be a pastry chef. If you work away on existing pastries, make a bunch of pies and have people point out the properties of a good crust, and so on, you can learn to make a passable copy of existing pastries.

But there's no algorithm that's going to get you to a new pastry on your own. To get from copying to creating, you're just going to have to try some stuff out, throw a lot of stuff out, and exercise taste and judgement based on experience, and even then sometimes you just aren't the guy. You haven't got it.


"...and even then sometimes you aren't the guy. You haven't got it."

Praise be: I've been singing that song - if off-key - for as long as I have known LuLa.

It's an unfortunate truth that the entire photographic teaching world tries to hide from the keen amateur with a coin in his sweaty little hand.

For the wannabe pro, he discovers that early on when he gets a few first jobs with the same number of clients...

It could even be funny if it were not so sad: I play music pretty much all the time, but that's the limit for me - I can neither play an instrument nor sing. That doesn't make me go on a pointless adventure trying to change the ears that I have, even though for years I was so into it that I knew all about which folks played in which jazz bands (New Orleans jazz). I just accepted that loving something didn't imply being able to do it too.

Rob C

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2018, 05:32:20 PM »

Paraphrasing from memory something that is attributed to various jazz musicians and in various forms... I remember this one as attributed to Miles Davis:

"First, learn everything there is to learn about jazz... then forget it all and play until you are dizzy."

It seems to me that some of you guys want to skip the first part and jump straight to the forgetting part. Or you are so far from the first part, years-wise, that you forgot it ever existed.

Maybe the quotation was meant with a capital d in dizzy?

I don't know... I did spent a long number of years doing a helluva lot of printing for people, and very little photography (for them).

Yet, that said, when I set out to do my own thing, I discovered that my very first fashion shoot presented me with no problems. I simply didn't think there would be any, and so there weren't. Ducks, water?

KLaban

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2018, 05:55:49 PM »

And it took four years of “just getting on with it”? Boy, what a waste of time and money. Just buy brushes and paint and “get on with it” on your own instead.

Which is exactly what I'd encourage any budding photographer to do.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2018, 07:17:06 PM »

...You can't just learn the properties of flour, water, salt, leavenings, sweeteners, and be a pastry chef. If you work away on existing pastries, make a bunch of pies and have people point out the properties of a good crust, and so on, you can learn to make a passable copy of existing pastries.

But there's no algorithm that's going to get you to a new pastry on your own...

Perhaps it won't make you a new Michelin 3-star chef, but it might help you make some edible pastry for your kids for breakfast. What is wrong with learning how to make a passable copy of a decent pastry? Who says that the only worthwhile goal in life is to become the new Picasso of pastry (or photography equivalent)? Millions of photographers would be perfectly satisfied to make something reasonably passable, rather than the deluge of visual crap we witness daily.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2018, 07:25:14 PM »

...
1. How to people perceive things, especially pictures of things?
2. What properties do pictures have?
3. What should I do when I take a picture?
...

To get from copying to creating, you're just going to have to try some stuff out, throw a lot of stuff out, and exercise taste and judgement based on experience...

And that experience is what 1 and 2 are the building blocks of, among other things. That includes primers, books, visits to museums, monographs, rules of thumbs, concepts, etc. All that at some point sinks in and is mixed and combined, with hopefully some talent/genes, into a unique mix that forms an individual approach. That is how you end up with the "taste and judgement based on experience."

Alan Klein

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2018, 09:44:26 PM »

The rules reflect what the brain already knows what is pleasing to it.  After a while, you move the viewfinder around to select what the brain finds most pleasing.  And there's your shot. 

FranciscoDisilvestro

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2018, 12:40:01 AM »

I agree with Slobodan on this issue, as long as you use the rules as a means and not as an end.

No rules and you end up with abominations such as vertical videos

Viewing the work of other photographers is ok, but I have seen many times that people just end up trying to copy someone else.

Use the rules as a guidance, practice and practice more and find your own way

Farmer

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2018, 04:00:40 AM »

Wait, someone thinks that baking doesn't benefit from algorithms?  That you just randomly experiment until you get it right rather than being taught very clearly by more experienced chefs or cooks about ratios of ingredients and temperatures and so on?

What a lot of nonsense.

If someone wants to get into photography, why not read through a basic primer to get some ideas and then head on out to start learning and looking at masters and those whose work you like and admire?

I'm with Slobo - too many people here have either forgotten what it's like to learn (this is hardly the first thread to demonstrate that), or have such immense opinions of their own ability that they presume they were capable of training themselves to the level of master without and basic tips (and that such tips would have somehow sullied their creativity).
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Phil Brown

KLaban

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2018, 06:10:52 AM »

Wait, someone thinks that baking doesn't benefit from algorithms?  That you just randomly experiment until you get it right rather than being taught very clearly by more experienced chefs or cooks about ratios of ingredients and temperatures and so on?

What a lot of nonsense.

If someone wants to get into photography, why not read through a basic primer to get some ideas and then head on out to start learning and looking at masters and those whose work you like and admire?

I'm with Slobo - too many people here have either forgotten what it's like to learn (this is hardly the first thread to demonstrate that), or have such immense opinions of their own ability that they presume they were capable of training themselves to the level of master without and basic tips (and that such tips would have somehow sullied their creativity).


Any judgement I make on any image maker is based on what they do, not what they say.
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Rob C

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2018, 06:14:56 AM »

Wait, someone thinks that baking doesn't benefit from algorithms?  That you just randomly experiment until you get it right rather than being taught very clearly by more experienced chefs or cooks about ratios of ingredients and temperatures and so on?

What a lot of nonsense.

If someone wants to get into photography, why not read through a basic primer to get some ideas and then head on out to start learning and looking at masters and those whose work you like and admire?

I'm with Slobo - too many people here have either forgotten what it's like to learn (this is hardly the first thread to demonstrate that), or have such immense opinions of their own ability that they presume they were capable of training themselves to the level of master without and basic tips (and that such tips would have somehow sullied their creativity).

That's one point of view.

However, even within the domestic scene of cooking - let's leave pro cheffing work aside here - there are exceptions to hard rules. Of course, you have to try to differentiate the difference between seeing something done once or twice, reading about it in a book (cooking or otherwise) and having a natural talent for whatever.

I met my future wife when we were both teens in school. Even then, she'd come back to my family home after the movies or something, see what was available and rustle us up a meal for two. I don't remember her ever being taught how to cook anything - and she was only fifteen years old. She went on to make the most amazing meals throughout her life, give successful parties and even in a crisis, never lose her cool (I never will forget when the potatoes she had to hand did not translate well into the gnocchi my uncle had asked if she could make: as soon as she discovered they wouldn't work properly with the flour, she switched to something else entirely and her smile made even my disappointed uncle forgive and forget! The stew that was to go with it was still perfect). So yeah, anecdotal, but still a valid point about nature and what it lets you do.

A downside to this was that every time we went back visiting to the UK, to either parental home, she was instantly handed the apron.

But the point is this: I watched her cook day after day, this and the other, yet today, left to my own devices, I can't cook a goddam thing that's worth the electricity.

Photography isn't that far removed: basically, it is a simple matter of making an exposure, as we all know. Of course folks with agendas will translate it into a huge deal, and it can be until you learn the mechanics of digital cameras and basic Photoshop. But that isn't photography: that's mechanics, as I said, and certainly a thing that can be taught. Photography is about the grey matter inside your skull, and even a brain surgeon can't put talent into that space if talent ain't there.

David Bailey trained with John French, very well-known in fashion circles at the time. During an interview, Bailey remarked that he had to unlearn everything he'd learned at the French studio. In my own case, I dropped out of photographic night school when the tutor told me, face to face, that he'd abandon photography is he made pix like Bailey. What was I going to learn there? How to be redundant? I already knew more about where I was going than any tutor out there could teach me.

Of course, perhaps the use of the word talent is part of the problem: some without it see it as a word denoting superiority or an attitude of elitism. What it is really, is nothing more than the natural ability you have to perform a particular kind of task. Because one may have it in one sphere does not imply one may have it in any other, so a sense of a broader superiority can be very misplaced indeed.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 07:31:12 AM by Rob C »
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Rob C

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2018, 06:20:54 AM »

Any judgement I make on any image maker is based on what they do, not what they say.

Which is exactly what commercial clients do, too!

It's all that matters.

Rob

KLaban

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2018, 06:24:38 AM »

Which is exactly what commercial clients do, too!

It's all that matters.

Rob

Indeed, and for any given client we were/are only as good as our last job.

It's a tough gig.
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Rob C

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2018, 07:52:45 AM »

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UADOYRGGIp4

Anyone think you learn this in books?

You do it because you do it. Same with the girls: models stopped making silly geometrics back in the 60s.

Rob

RSL

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Re: "Photography Composition: The Definitive Guide"
« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2018, 08:03:38 AM »

That's one point of view.

However, even within the domestic scene of cooking - let's leave pro cheffing work aside here - there are exceptions to hard rules. Of course, you have to try to differentiate the difference between seeing something done once or twice, reading about it in a book (cooking or otherwise) and having a natural talent for whatever.

I met my future wife when we were both teens in school. Even then, she'd come back to my family home after the movies or something, see what was available and rustle us up a meal for two. I don't remember her ever being taught how to cook anything - and she was only fifteen years old. She went on to make the most amazing meals throughout her life, give successful parties and even in a crisis, never lose her cool (I never will forget when the potatoes she had to hand did not translate well into the gnocchi my uncle had asked if she could make: as soon as she discovered they wouldn't work properly with the flour, she switched to something else entirely and her smile made even my disappointed uncle forgive and forget! The stew that was to go with it was still perfect). So yeah, anecdotal, but still a valid point about nature and what it lets you do.

A downside to this was that every time we went back visiting to the UK, to either parental home, she was instantly handed the apron.

But the point is this: I watched her cook day after day, this and the other, yet today, left to my own devices, I can't cook a goddam thing that's worth the electricity.

Photography isn't that far removed: basically, it is a simple matter of making an exposure, as we all know. Of course folks with agendas will translate it into a huge deal, and it can be until you learn the mechanics of digital cameras and basic Photoshop. But that isn't photography: that's mechanics, as I said, and certainly a thing that can be taught. Photography is about the grey matter inside your skull, and even a brain surgeon can't put talent into that space if talent ain't there.

David Bailey trained with John French, very well-known in fashion circles at the time. During an interview, Bailey remarked that he had to unlearn everything he'd learned at the French studio. In my own case, I dropped out of photographic night school when the tutor told me, face to face, that he'd abandon photography is he made pix like Bailey. What was I going to learn there? How to be redundant? I already knew more about where I was going than any tutor out there could teach me.

Of course, perhaps the use of the word talent is part of the problem: some without it see it as a word denoting superiority or an attitude of elitism. What it is really, is nothing more than the natural ability you have to perform a particular kind of task. Because one may have it in one sphere does not imply one may have it in any other, so a sense of a broader superiority can be very misplaced indeed.

Beautifully put, Rob. I've seen this in fields other than art. Music, of course, is a classic example. I also found that in computer programming the same thing applies. Either you have it or you don't have it. That has nothing to do with intelligence or even hard work, though both may be necessary to exploit your inborn talent. I also can tell you that some brilliant programmers are dumb as rocks in other areas. I suspect the same thing's true of musicians and composers.
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