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Old 12-14-2007, 01:25 PM
greg greg is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 393
Default Re: "rules of composition" for a photo

"Rules are for the obeyance of fools and the guidance of wise men"

That sounds like a rule to me - if you follow it, you'll end up a fool either way... ;)
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Old 12-14-2007, 03:00 PM
lukie lukie is offline
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Posts: 659
Default Re: "rules of composition" for a photo

Well, Rushfan's words sound like music to me. I share about the same opinion, except for the first sentence (for many things rules are necessary...).
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:47 PM
KevRyan KevRyan is offline
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Default Re: "rules of composition" for a photo

...........maybe after all 'guidelines' is a better word - a framework or structure of tested possibilities with which you can provide as a fall back should the 'instinct' not be up to par and deliver all that you wanted ........for many many years I have used the idea of compositional guidelines to illustrate how people succeed in making good playgrounds for the eye - either to catch and/or hold attention......most of us are beyond the 'point and shoot' mentality and actually begin to or are advanced in using our viewfinder as a picture plane upon which we may deliberately choose the positioning of the elements of an image. i introduce people to 10-14 compositional devices and then say come back in an hour having seen and reproduced a gallery of these ways of making a composition - the surprise that people get when they see the improvement in the images they are capable of making is often fantastic.

1. Most photographers know about the rule of thirds - in portrait or landscape format the placing of a main object of interest or action at the intersection of the thirds acts as a natural draw to they eye........BUT what about the 'rules' of competing and complimentary thirds? A competing third is where two seemingly unrelated strong focal points of interest rest on different thirds - the eye wanders between them unable to settle and the rest of the image is lost. A complimentary third is one where the relationship between to focal points of interest on the thirds, tells a story, evokes and emnotion or simply creates a unifying visual link. Of course you can effectively use a competing third to convey a particular idea - let's say - a dysfunctional relationship for instance.

2. The use of the the third and the complimentary third is often used in conjunction with the oblique line bi-secting or suggesting a bisection of the image plane (corner to corner - left or right facing). Inded it is not uncommon to have more than two compositional guidelines being deployed in the same image.

3. Layering or use of horizontal banding is a strong compositional device - especially for landscape photographers. Again you are satisfying the eye through providing something to read backwards and forwards across the page.

4. Most of us will know not to have an object leaving the frame or near to the 'leaving edge' of the frame because then all of the space behind that object is redundant BUT rather than slavishly placing all objects to provide a space for them to move into also watch for the traces of their passage which people leave behind - this enables us to project into their time frame (as past) as well as exercising our capacity to image their future.

5. Passive and Dynamic framing refer to the retention of all main objects of interest within the frame as opposed to cropping elements of them which place them beyond the image you are looking at - the latter is dynamic because they may lead the eye away from the picture itself into the story ofg what may be happening elsewhere in the context or may be about to or have just happened in time. In a passive frame the same questions may arise but visually your interest is contained within the frame.

There are further things on this I can write if anyone would like me to but right now I've been up all night working on a mag design which we just got to the printers and I need to chill out before our works christmas party in an hours time!! Perhaps i could do the above with illustrated examples when I get a moment and some others too. Let me know if anyone would find that useful>

best wishes kev
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:00 PM
rushfan2112 rushfan2112 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 460
Default Re: "rules of composition" for a photo

Couldn't agree more, Greg - but only where the obeyance of the rules is truly critical - health & safety, criminal law.

As you've probably guessed, I like to play "Devil's Advocate" occasionally and, to be honest, how we shoot a photograph might not conform to the accepted "rules" but what the hell....it's only a photo!

Paul (;^))
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