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Composition Help

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Empireme, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    I'm aware that this forum is based mostly on gear and I've learned a ton from the members here. But I want to ask a "radical" question and try to see what articles, youtube videos, books were the most helpful to you all.

    I know that many will tell me to just go out and shoot and I absolutely do that all the time, but shooting in itself isn't going to teach me about the rule of thirds and other bits of wisdom that I wish to know.

    So can you fellas share links or offer your own knowledge? We're all ears! :2thumbs:
  2. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    To clarify, I've read "Understanding Exposure." I know how to get the correct exposure and I also almost always use manual mode. So I'm not asking questions on how to use my camera, but compositional techniques / knowledge that will enhance my pictures.

    And have any of you guys taken any photography workshops? Were they helpful? I think an MU-43 meet would be really cool, too.
  3. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    Like I was telling on the other thread, I'd definitely recommend "The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman. Has a lot of information about composition.

    There was this other link (too bad I didn't save it) which would talk about composition for paintings which had a lot of useful information. Let me see if I can get that link again.

    EDIT: I have taken a 2 day photography workshop 2-3 years back. I knew most of the technical stuff but I wanted to interact with a good photographer to understand what goes through one's mind. I learnt a lot from that person and still attribute a lot of my inspiration to him.

    SECOND EDIT: Found the link, here's what I was talking about:
  4. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco

    There is a wealth of information available on the web, and perhaps from your local library or photo club.

    Maybe you can start on Wikipedia with this:


    And then follow the links at the bottom for additional information.

    Where are you located?

  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Empireme... where do you live? If it's in the U.S., most community colleges offer workshops or full courses in photography... many of which are quite good. If that doesn't work for you, visit local photo shops for information about local photo clubs. The good thing about clubs is that you have repeated interaction with others. If you can't find a club, sometimes the shops organize photo outings where you can meet like-minded people or mentors.
  7. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    Thanks fellas for the great links. I'll be studying them for sure this weekend when I have a lot more free time. And I'm located in LA!
  8. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Take pictures! Practice will be a big help too.

    Once you have a pic , look at it, stare at it. If it looks good then chances are you have good comp. If it looks bad then you probably have bad comp.

    You might want to use the auto functions and just concentrate on your composition, this will allow you to use all your brain artistically and not worry about the technical.

    You could also post some pics here and have the other members critique them. When I first started my pictures sucked!!! But with practice and some input from more experienced photographers I improved.
  9. taran

    taran Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    Stay away from photo clubs, too many chiefs and not enough indians, everyone is an expert locked into some god forsaken zeitgeist that makes them believe their way is the only way.

    Try and find a local art gallery that sells photographs and find out what sells, the more expensive the better (although this should hardly qualify the photograph as being anything more than middling).

    Carry the bag of a local photographer who is getting paid to work events. You can learn more at one wedding with a seasoned pro than you can in months of recreational shooting. If you can volunteer at the local newspaper that is good too, but don't sign away the rights to the photos for perpetuity, try and just give them one time publication rights... you can find a simple contract for this online, but IANAL, so fair warning.

    I agree that a youtube feed can be helpful, especially one that features complex lighting setups, and different kinds of photography. There are a ton of these, and to be honest I just look up the ones with the most views.

    Good luck.
  10. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States

    Ah cool!

    Samy's Camera offer very reasonably priced tutorials every month. Check their website. You get a discount coupon after each class that you can spend on anything in any of their stores. I've taken several classes and have learned something each time.

    I have taken a few 2 and three-day seminars at Brooks College in Santa Barbara over the years. I like to attend these seminars in the Fall when the leaves turn color. They make for fantastic backdrop. Santa Barbara is one on my favorite cities for landscape photography; mixing the serenity of the ocean with the charm of East Coast vegetation/foliage.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Books for Beginners.

    *Life Guide to Digital Photography by Joe McNally. Also available as an iPad app.
    *The Photographers Eye - Michael Freeman. Also available as an iPad app.
    *Light, Science and Magic - as important as "Understanding Exposure". An essential read for photographers.

    After you got the basics of technique.
    *Anything by David DuChemin. he has four books about the process behind creating and shaping an image.
    *Hot Shoe Diaries and The Moment it Clicks by Joe McNally - for everything to do with small flash.
    *Scott Kelbys Books are great, but some don't like his writing style.

    • Like Like x 1
  12. peterbee

    peterbee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 2, 2011
    Huddersfield, UK
    Peter Bartlett
    This really is the great photographic challenge! Some photographers have a natural ability to "see" a great compositions, but for most of us it's a skill learned by experience and trial and error. The great golfer, Gary Player used to say "The more I practice, the luckier I get" and this in my view is true of photography.

    You can go on a course and/or spend lots of cash on tuition, but the reality is that whilst you'll get some great images, they often flow from the ideas provided by the course tutor rather than from your own original thoughts.

    Over 40+ years, I've found that some of the answers to this question (and by no means all of them) lie in:

    • Taking lots of images, but be selective in the ones you post-process and share with others
    • Study or look at lots of images made by acknowledged experts in the field(s) of photography that interest you (through books and exhibitions etc.)
    • Find a subject that really interests you and keep taking pictures of it over a prolonged period of time - the more you take, the better your images will be (remember Gary Player!)
    • Set yourself photographic goals and objectives
    • Try developing mini-projects and themed sets or panels of images - not all the images will be "winners" but odd ones will be and you will have a rewarding set of images that tell a story or have a message
    • Study/look at art (exhibitions/books)
    • Learn the basic "rules of composition" - there's loads of stuff for free on the web
    • Once you've learned the "rules of composition" remember that often the most successful images break "the rules" and create a visual tension that captures the viewer's attention.
    • Consider joining a local Camera Club - I know there are those who will dismiss that idea - You wil get considered feedback on your images (as well as similar feedback on other people's). You will not agree with all the feedback, but over time you will build up a good understanding of what is good composition and what makes a compelling image.

    Of course, the list of options is endless!

    Unfortunately unless you have the gift of "the seeing eye", something only a few people have, it takes time and practice. But, isn't that the real fun of this hobby of ours.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Mercurio

    Mercurio Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 17, 2012
    Bogotá, Colombia
    I found the following video related to the subject of this thread, that can be helpful to improve our photos:

  14. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    If you like street, check out The Street Photographer's Manual by David Gibson. Does a really good job providing a breakdown of compositional techniques, like juxtaposition, reflections, etc etc etc, with decent examples of each one.
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