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Author Topic: Fifteen Remarks on Composition  (Read 16168 times)

LesPalenik

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Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« on: April 22, 2015, 09:37:04 am »

Fine article and great photographs. Thanks, Allain!
However, Google folks may cause you to rework one of your arguments:

Quote
However, your camera cannot compose a photograph anymore than your car can drive itself
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amolitor

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 10:27:40 am »

While the remarks themselves are fine, the listicle format is not. Substituting randomly ordered bullet points for an organizing principle will be the death of our civilization.
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Coyotebd

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 10:36:33 am »

First, as a blogger myself I have debated the use to listicles. My conclusion is that what is an essay but an unordered listicle without headers?

Second, for the article, #3 had the most impact for me. When I approach a scene to photograph I've always been thinking: How do I compose this? and then struggling.

I never made the connection between the feeling which made me stop to take the picture and what the end result of the picture will be. Sure, I wanted to "capture" the scene, but I was composing because that's the difference between taking a photograph and a snapshot. Now I realize I should compose the picture to look like how I saw the scene in the moment when it caught my eye.
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AlfSollund

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 12:59:26 pm »

Thanks for this essay. I have missed this type of content. Please keep up the good work  :).

I totally buy the message(s) about making a personal statements, so a great composition comes from the photographer. If I were to state this I would say "what are you trying to tell, whats your message?"
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alansky

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 01:33:44 pm »

The author says,"In a way composition is unforgiving because once the photograph is taken the composition cannot be changed."

This is not entirely true. For many photographers, cropping an image on the computer screen is an important part of creating the final composition. Some photographers pride themselves on "not cropping" their images; but this is a personal choice, not a sacred requirement.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 01:47:03 pm »

While the remarks themselves are fine, the listicle format is not. Substituting randomly ordered bullet points for an organizing principle will be the death of our civilization.

Now my hate has a name!

NancyP

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 07:22:14 pm »

Slobodan, may I assume that you think that PowerPoint is the "tool of the devil"?
I use PowerPoint for lectures, but I don't try to make more than one or two points per slide. No listicles for my students! It helps to be getting into the reading-glasses age and automatically using bigger fonts.

However, Alain's points are valid. And I would like to thank him for his effort, whether in listicles or in paragraphs.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 07:38:06 pm »

Slobodan, may I assume that you think that PowerPoint is the "tool of the devil"?...

Nothing against PowerPoint. Just against the ever increasing cliche titles and articles like "Top 10 This," "15 That," "7 Secrets of...," "17 Things You Didn't Know About...," "12 Blah, Blah, Blah." Didn't know that despicable practice got its own name though.

Ray

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 09:20:39 pm »

Fine article and great photographs. Thanks, Allain!
However, Google folks may cause you to rework one of your arguments:


Quote from Alain:
Quote
However, your camera cannot compose a photograph anymore than your car can drive itself.

I get your point, Les, that Google has invented a driverless, robotic car. However, as far as I know, no-one has invented a functioning robotic camera in relation to composition choice, although I did outline the design for such a camera several years ago on this site.  ;)

I took my inspiration from the Mars Rover. It occurred to me that a similar, portable device could be designed purely for photography. It could be easily transported in the boot of the car when travelling to scenic locations one wanted to photograph.

The device would essentially be a small and very lightweight all-terrain vehicle, made of strong carbon-fibre plastic, housing sophisticated computer programs and literally hundreds of thousands of images of all the great art works of the past.

The integrated camera with zoom lens would be attached to a flexible arm which would automatically rise, fall and turn in any direction as the small vehicle negotiated the rough terrain in search of any scene which resembled the composition of one or more of the images of the great masterpieces stored in its computer.

One could program the rover to make a trip of a certain duration whilst one enjoyed lunch at the scenic location. One could examine the shots taken by the robot on its return to the starting point, and if not satisfied with the results, one could reprogram the device to set out again on a different route to take some more shots whilst one enjoyed one's dessert.  ;D
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paulbk

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 09:45:31 pm »

This is the best piece on composition I've ever read. One reason it's so effective is its style of presentation: simple, informative, and not laden with artsy-intangibles.
Thank you Alain Briot.
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Isaac

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 10:08:37 pm »

… a functioning robotic camera in relation to composition choice … and if not satisfied with the results, one could reprogram the device to set out again on a different route to take some more shots…

http://www.google.com/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/
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jerryw

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2015, 12:05:02 am »

This is the best piece on composition I've ever read. One reason it's so effective is its style of presentation: simple, informative, and not laden with artsy-intangibles.
Thank you Alain Briot.


I don't know that this is "best piece on composition I've ever read" - though it is an excellent one and, IMHO, one of Alain's better articles.

I completely agree that its very "effective is its style of presentation: simple, informative, and not laden with artsy-intangibles".

For me, his writing crystallizes in words some things that I felt intuitively inside, thus strengthening them in my mind - and adds a few things I hadn't thought of as well.

I think its worth bookmarking this article and re-reading it every once in a while. 
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2015, 05:26:55 am »

I'm with those who hate the 'List' format in general.  But I have to say the article was interesting and worthwhile to me, so in this case the list served it's purpose.  Many thanks Alan.

Jim

By the way I am in the process of compiling an article on the 1000 most pointless lists of all time......
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LesPalenik

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2015, 07:10:56 am »

Quote from Alain:
I get your point, Les, that Google has invented a driverless, robotic car. However, as far as I know, no-one has invented a functioning robotic camera in relation to composition choice, although I did outline the design for such a camera several years ago on this site.  ;)

I took my inspiration from the Mars Rover. It occurred to me that a similar, portable device could be designed purely for photography. It could be easily transported in the boot of the car when travelling to scenic locations one wanted to photograph.

The device would essentially be a small and very lightweight all-terrain vehicle, made of strong carbon-fibre plastic, housing sophisticated computer programs and literally hundreds of thousands of images of all the great art works of the past.

The integrated camera with zoom lens would be attached to a flexible arm which would automatically rise, fall and turn in any direction as the small vehicle negotiated the rough terrain in search of any scene which resembled the composition of one or more of the images of the great masterpieces stored in its computer.

One could program the rover to make a trip of a certain duration whilst one enjoyed lunch at the scenic location. One could examine the shots taken by the robot on its return to the starting point, and if not satisfied with the results, one could reprogram the device to set out again on a different route to take some more shots whilst one enjoyed one's dessert.  ;D


Ray,

you took it in a different direction than I originally intended, but you made an excellent point of exploring new angles and compositions.
I've been also longing after a possibility where I could instruct the camera to scout out certain terrain and let me see various compositions. It seems that our prayers have been answered. Instead of a land based rover with a fkexible arm, light quadcopter / camera combos with an ability to program a fixed route are available now.  We can now program the flight route, get the first-pass pictures,  review the pictures and send out the camera out again on a modified route with altered positional adjustments. I'm looking forward to try it this summer.
 
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mecrox

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2015, 07:54:06 am »

Thank you very much for this article, helpful as always. Maybe "the strongest way of seeing" also sees that life is fluid, provisional and full of rough edges. Some compositions can be just too perfect, too smooth, for me at least, and so lack life and bite to my eye. I like something in an image that's a teeny bit off, just not quite right. Call it the Stitch of Allah, perhaps, but it makes the whole thing feel more authentic than Photoshop perfection.
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Ray

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2015, 09:55:42 am »

Ray,

you took it in a different direction than I originally intended, but you made an excellent point of exploring new angles and compositions.
I've been also longing after a possibility where I could instruct the camera to scout out certain terrain and let me see various compositions. It seems that our prayers have been answered. Instead of a land based rover with a fkexible arm, light quadcopter / camera combos with an ability to program a fixed route are available now.  We can now program the flight route, get the first-pass pictures,  review the pictures and send out the camera out again on a modified route with altered positional adjustments. I'm looking forward to try it this summer.
 

Les,

The chief innovation in my idea is not so much the flexible, lightweight all-terrain mini vehicle which can be programmed to take a particular route and return to a particular base, but a sophisticated computer program which can analyse in real time each of the many scenes that the robot camera 'sees' as the vehicle trundles up and down slopes, zooming the lens in and out, and swinging it around at all angles.

If software can be written to enable a camera to recognise a human face for autofocus purposes, I imagine that software could be written to recognise a number of sets and combinations of compositional rules similar to those mentioned by Alain, such as a striking contrast of colour and light, a juxtaposition of a dominant foreground against a large background, a moving object against a static background, a variety of different sizes and shapes, converging lines, and of course the 'rule of thirds'.

At each position where the vehicle momentarily stops to examine the surrounding scene from a number of different angles, using different focal lengths, different apertures and different focus points, a shot would be taken only when the composition of the scene matches, to a predefined approximation, one of the numerous sets of compositional rules stored in the camera's computer.  ;)
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MatthewCromer

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2015, 10:29:14 am »

Not usually a fan of "Listicles", but in this case I was pleasantly surprised.

This is probably my favorite AB article so far! Worthwhile advice on composition, well organized, terse, and cheerfully presented.
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Isaac

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2015, 11:16:55 am »

If software can be written to enable a camera to recognise a human face for autofocus purposes, I imagine that software could be written to recognise a number of sets and combinations of compositional rules similar to those mentioned by Alain…

Sony Auto Object Framing since 2012.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 12:17:34 pm by Isaac »
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amolitor

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2015, 11:39:48 am »

How does the act of sifting through thousands of semi random images to select the good ones differ fundamentally, from photography as we know it today?

Related: http://photothunk.blogspot.com/2012/08/pre-vs-post.html
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 11:43:01 am by amolitor »
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NancyP

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Re: Fifteen Remarks on Composition
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2015, 11:47:38 am »

I prefer to sift before, not after, taking the photo. I want the experience of being in the environment.
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