Composition: Beyond the Obvious


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Presentation visuals presented to the Jefferson County Photography Club. It's intended to cover principles of composition not normally considered or discussed (at least in our club).

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  • ISO: 100 f/4.5 1/80
  • ISO: 100 f/4 1/1000
  • Contrast in Color Value HDR ISO: 100 f/4
  • ISO: 200 f/5 1/100
  • ISO: 200 f/4.0 1/20
  • Contrast in Texture HDR ISO: 100 f/4
  • Examples: Circles are more “ fun ” than squares because they remind us of things that bounce. Curvilinear, organic shapes are more natural, sensual, and creative than geometric shapes.
  • ISO: 100 f/4.5 1/160
  • A whole discussion can be spent on balance alone. The ways to achieve this are numerous: value, color, shape, texture, position, eye direction, physical weight, asymmetry, radial, formal, variety, depth, repetition (size variation, repetition, variety)
  • We can minimize busy areas by placing them in shadow or enhance them by lighting them well. Large simple areas can be enhanced by even bright lighting or by breaking them up with shadows, thereby making them more complex.
  • Balance by Shape and Value HDR ISO: 100 f/4
  • ISO: 200 f/5.6 1/640
  • ISO: 100 f/4 1/500
  • Absence of balance can create tension ISO: 100, f/13, 1/25
  • We live in a 3-dimensional world, yet photography is a 2-dimensional medium. A sense of depth can allow the viewer to feel like they ’ re viewing the scene and not just a flat representation of your scene.
  • Absence of balance can create tension ISO: 100, f/13, 1/25
  • Perspective ISO: 800 f/6.3 1/250
  • The building that narrows in the distance conveys depth. HDR, ISO 100, f/4
  • While not a long distance, the depth of field conveys depth. ISO: 200, f/4, 1/320
  • Depth of field and perspective together. ISO: 100, f/4, 1/250
  • The table and chair belong together, or at least appear to. ISO: 400, f/5, 1/8
  • First ask audience: “ What ’ s the story? ” “ The old man and the sign. ” Their proximity suggests that he ’ s waiting for the bus. What would the story be if the sign were 50ft further back? ISO: 100, f/4, 1/500 (Strong winter morning sun - 10:30)
  • Exercise: put image up for a few seconds and then black. Discuss. What do they remember? The two people are “ related ” in that they are connected in the story. However, the dissonance is what makes this compelling.
  • ISO: 100 f/4 1/1250
  • ISO: 100 f/4 1/1000
  • ISO: 200 f/4.0 1/200
  • HDR ISO: 200 f/4.0
  • ISO: 100 f/6.3 1/60
  • ISO: 200 f/6.3 1/2000
  • ISO: 200 f/7.1 1/2000 I get the sense that they ’ re repelling each other.
  • Composition: Beyond the Obvious

    1. 1. CompositionBeyond the Obvious
    2. 2. Today’s Principles...• Contrast• Balance• Depth• Leading Lines• Proximity• Common Fate
    3. 3. Contrast
    4. 4. ColorHue: Position on the color wheel.More distance = more contrast.Value: Relative lightness or darknessSaturation and Intensity: Purity of a hue
    5. 5. Hueexample
    6. 6. Valueexample
    7. 7. Saturationexample
    8. 8. OrientationAn object’s orientation relative to otherelements in the composition can createmeaning by focusing attention on anomaly.
    9. 9. TextureShifts in tactile quality or pattern can createfocal points.
    10. 10. ShapeWe often ascribe personality, meaning, oremotion to different shapes.Contrasts of shape engage both our ability tonotice form and our cognitive associations withthose configurations.
    11. 11. Balance
    12. 12. ValueThe eye is attracted to contrast, so a small areaof high contrast will balance a larger area of lowcontrast.
    13. 13. ShapeA small complicated shape can balance a largesimple shape. Also, a large uncluttered area canbalance a small busy area containing manyshapes.
    14. 14. SymmetricalBoth sides are essentially mirrored. Sometimescalled formal balance.
    15. 15. AsymmetricalGenerally more interesting than symmetricallybalanced images. More casual, dynamic, andrelaxed.
    16. 16. Absence of balance can create tension.
    17. 17. Depth
    18. 18. DepthThe illusion of distance or a third dimension.This can be achieved through perspective oroverlapping objects.
    19. 19. Proximity
    20. 20. ProximityElements that are close together are perceivedto be more related than elements that arefarther apart.
    21. 21. Photo © 2013 Osman Orsal
    22. 22. Lines
    23. 23. LinesLines lead the viewer into and around thescene. Leading lines direct the viewer towardsa focal point in the image. Lines can also besymbolic, depending on their orientation anddirection.
    24. 24. Vertical LinesTall and balanced, solid, and firm. Theysymbolize strength, power, and stability.
    25. 25. Horizontal LinesPeaceful and static, the horizontal line suggestsstability, permanence, and tranquility.
    26. 26. Diagonal LinesDiagonal lines are active and dynamic, creatingtension and bringing to mind action and motion.
    27. 27. Curved LinesLike diagonal lines, curved lines suggest motion- but slower motion. The greater the curve,the more dramatic the tension.
    28. 28. Common Fate
    29. 29. Common FateElements that move in the same direction areperceived to be more related than elementsthat move in different directions or arestationary.
    30. 30. Further Reading...••••
    31. 31. ...and some books(that I used)• Composition Photo Workshop - Bruce Fier• Universal Principles of Design - William Lidwell,Kritina Holden, Jill Butler• The Information Design Handbook - Jenn + KenVisocky O’Grady