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Thread: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

  1. #11
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    ...I have almost no familiarity with the work of artist-photographers whose native language reads either right to left or top to bottom.
    Mind you, photographers using a view camera compose upside down.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  2. #12
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    I would guess that this 'reads left-to-right'.

    http://www.digoliardi.net/another-another-becky.jpg

  3. #13

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    I would guess that this 'reads left-to-right'.

    http://www.digoliardi.net/another-another-becky.jpg
    Touché, Jac.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  4. #14

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams



    The first part of my music lessons covered theory and technical exercises - which were very important.

    After some time the teacher would say: "OK, enough of that. Let's play music." Then we would deal with interpretation, expression, feeling.

    There's no end to either study. They complement one another.

  5. #15

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    Look like arbitrarily placed lines to me. The image is such that you could place them almost anywhere.

  6. #16
    Sean Mac's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    William Mortensen, by way of contrast, made his thinking known in "The Command to Look". It's an entertaining read if nothing else.

    The arrival of the camera affected the painters sensibilities too. There are Impressionist paintings with figures only partially within the frame. Edgar Degas was known to take photographs using gaslight.

    After two years formal study of painting and drawing my favourite take on the subject is from Mark Carder of drawmixpaint.com.

    "For every Rule of Composition there's a great painting that breaks that Rule"

  7. #17

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    Maris, I hope my poor writing conveyed some hint, at least, of my agreement with your, shall we say, deep skepticism of formal analysis. Perhaps I failed to communicate my intention well. In any case, it is somewhat intriguing to me that an artist of your caliber finds the thirds, or fifths, a valuable referent. Yet what you say about being able to run through the lot of "constructive" devices trumps reliance on one or two. Your composition is fluid and surely more intuitive than reference to the thirds or other "rules" might seem to imply. Regarding your image above, perhaps I see its composition very differently from your view of it.

    We live, I believe, in a universe that is a unity because of principles which we may discover and comprehend increasingly clearly over time. whether we explore the language of music or visual art, we find form. How we understand it, and thus employ it, touches on what I sought to convey in my original post, taking a single principle as one worthy of examination. I did not mean to suggest that the rectangle has no lawful "internal" ordering principle. My argument is with the nature of the imposition of "Euclidean" forms substituting for, or in contradiction to, the creative act of composing. As you put it, "how it is laid out rather than what's it of."

    Best, Philip
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  8. #18

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning frm Ansel Adams

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    I really liked Arthur Wesley Dow's "Composition" book better than formulaic basic photography instruction as it was about harmony of shapes and tones. I am not certain, but suspect it was a popular teaching book for photographer's of AA's period.
    This book was a standard text for White's school, had a strong Oriental influence and was a strong influence on Modernism. Through memory and experience Maris's mind is able to assess a scene and develop an approach to an image that he thinks might work. Without your camera, spend you whole day looking at everything with those rules/ guidelines/ principles in mind of thirds, fifths, Golden Ratios, symmetries, repoussoirs, diagonals, leading lines, framing
    Mortensen is a good and relevant read as well. You can always try the reverse of the above, but the failures will be greater and the occasional reward will be greater. Eventually you will learn what you like.

    this application can help you put pictures in for assessment and quickly learn what makes sense and what is a bit out there
    http://photoinf.com/Golden_Mean/photo-adjuster.html
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  9. #19

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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    Mind you, photographers using a view camera compose upside down.
    Some also compose by directly looking at the scene, and perhaps using hands to help to realize the framing.

    Anyway (IMHO) viewing the image upside down may help to analyze better the composition, because the subject itself distracts less in that analysis, I guess.

  10. #20
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on composition, learning from Ansel Adams

    If it looks and feels good to your brain, then you're following the rules of composition.

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