COMPOSITION

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ELEMENTS OF ART & COMPOSITION:

ELEMENTS OF ART & COMPOSITION Chapter 12

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EVALUATING PHOTOGRAPHS When evaluating a photography, there are 3 aspects to consider: The technical aspects – quality of light, exposure, depth of field, focus, etc. Visual elements (elements of art) – texture, line, color, shape, form, tone Design elements – composition, balance, space, emphasis

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VISUAL ELEMENTS These are the “ingredients” – what you are photographing. Choice of interesting subject matter is the first step in taking a good photograph. TEXTURE LINE COLOR SHAPE FORM TONE

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TEXTURE Like form, texture depends on light for its impact. You can take a photograph of a textured surface in a couple of different ways and get completely different results. Texture creates drama, and is also one of the most useful tools we have as photographers for making a two dimensional image look three dimensional.

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Out of the six elements of design, line is the strongest and most influential. Without line, none of the other five elements of design can exist in a photograph. Lines lead the viewer’s eyes towards the point of interest, and they also portray emotional feeling through their unique thicknesses and directions. LINE For example, a jagged line might be perceived as forceful or threatening, whereas a curved line might be perceived as soothing & relaxing.

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COLOR - Color is one of those elements that we notice on a subconscious level, which can make it a powerful expression of mood and emotion. Warm colors (reds, yellows and oranges) can make a viewer feel happy and optimistic or angry and irritated. Cool colors can create feelings of tranquility and peace.  

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To effectively use color, know the color wheel, and try different color combinations.  Complimentary colors (those that are opposite on the color wheel), can make a very striking composition, as can analogous colors (those that are next to each other on the color wheel).

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Monochromatic colors (varying shades of the same color) can also be used to good effect.

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SHAPE - can be thought of as the outline of an object, or that which gives it its two-dimensional appearance.  Good examples of shapes are spirals such as those found in seashells or plants and negative shapes, such as the necks of two facing birds.

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FORM - is like shape, but instead of being concerned only with outline it is also concerned with the subtle shading that makes an object appear three dimensional. 

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TONE - Tone is using varying degrees of light and dark to add contrast and give liveliness to an image. Tone can be used to make your subject stand out through contrast . Black and white photos rely completely on tone because of their lack of color. Tone can be used to make your subject stand out through contrast.

THE Principles OF DESIGN:

THE Principles OF DESIGN The different arrangements – or compositions - of the ELEMENTS of design to create artistic, interesting, more visually powerful photographs.

What are the Principles of DESIGN?:

What are the Principles of DESIGN? Emphasis Balance Unity Contrast Movement/ Rhythm Pattern/Repetition

Pattern/Repetition:

Pattern/Repetition An element that occurs over and over again in a composition. Can repeat the element in a consistent pattern. Can repeat the element in a variation of the pattern.

EMPHASIS or Focal Point:

EMPHASIS or Focal Point Emphasis  in a composition refers to using points of interest to pull the viewer’s eye to important parts of the image Emphasis can be achieved through use of selective color… …or by using depth of field to emphasize one area or subject in an image… …or light can be used for emphasis.

Balance:

Balance a sense of stability in the body of work. Balance can be created by creating a feeling of equal weight.

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Symmetrical Balance – is achieved when either both sides are the same, or the top and bottom are the same.

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Radial symmetry – occurs from a center point

Unity:

Unity is seen in a picture when all the parts equal a whole.

CONTRAST:

CONTRAST refers to the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark colors, rough vs. smooth textures, large vs. small shapes, etc.) in a piece so as to create visual interest,

Movement:

Movement adds excitement by showing action and directing the viewer’s eye throughout the picture plane.

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Rhythm is a type of movement in art. Rhythm is the repetition of an element to achieve movement in a composition.

Elements and Principles in Photographic Composition:

Elements and Principles in Photographic Composition The Elements and Principles are used in making photographs – not just taking photographs. You have to know and understand the elements and principles of art to see them all around you and capture them in your photos.

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Now. How do you apply all of this to your photography?

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This image has no obvious focal point. The viewer’s eye tends to travel randomly, looking for something to focus on. Have a focal point

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The focal point in this picture is emphasized by using a very shallow depth of field. What other elements of art and principles of design can you find in this image?

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Rule of Thirds Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The rule of thirds  says that you should position the focal point in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.

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Compare these two pictures. The one on the left follows the “bulls-eye” technique that most amateurs use. The one on the right establishes the context of the environment around the tower. The eye is led up the hill toward the tower.

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When photographing a moving object, leave more space on the side of the image that the subject Is moving towards. SPACE

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The same concept applies to subjects looking away from the camera. Leave more space in the image for them to look toward.

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Place horizon lines either above or below the center, unless you are trying to emphasize symmetry.

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When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey "through" the scene. There are many different types of line - straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc - and each can be used to enhance our photo's composition. Leading Lines

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Symmetry and Patterns We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made., They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene. The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner.

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Point of View Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on. The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo.

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The most unlikely subjects become more interesting and abstract when photographed from a unique viewpoint.

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Consider shooting from below your subject.

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Avoid shooting “down” at small children. Get on their level for a different angle. Getting creative with shooting angles allows you to position people to include desirable backgrounds.

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Background How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from the subject. The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo.

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Always be on the lookout for poles, trash cans, and power lines.

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Depth Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognizes these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth. Emphasize your scene's depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. 

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Objects in the foreground add depth to the image.

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Framing The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest. Here, the surrounding trees form a natural frame, and lead the eye to a focal point.  

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Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background "noise", ensuring the subject gets the viewer's undivided attention. Fill the Frame Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewer's attention focused on the subject.

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Fill the frame might be the most effective composition technique for helping the viewer to see your subject in a new and interesting way.

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Filling the frame is also effective in portraits.

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Which one do you prefer? Why?

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Compare these two images..

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Camera Orientation Compare these two images. On the left, the horizontal composition makes the subject appear to be the pool area. On the right, the vertical orientation make the trees more prominent.

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Compare these two photos. Using a vertical composition on a vertical subject allows you to get in closer and eliminate empty space.

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Just a couple of steps forward or backward can drastically improve your shot.

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