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Thread: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

  1. #1

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    A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    "The Visual Story" by Bruce Block is actually a book about filmmaking, but the author's discussion of composition is the best I've found anywhere, and eminently usable by photographers.

    You can find out more here: http://www.filmtools.com/vistbrblne.html

    If you want a solid grounding in composition, combine the above with Betty Edwards' "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain."
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  2. #2

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Thanks for the recommendation; I am always looking for useful books on composition, but not many out there.

    Here is the Amazon link for the softcover:

    http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Story-S...d=RG0TCG33JDYG

  3. #3

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    And, for what it's worth, Bruce Block's book can be purchased as an e-Book from Elsevier:

    http://elsevier.insidethecover.com/s...=9780240807799

  4. #4

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Ok Bruce, I purchased the book. Now, will I need to have Richard build me a 19" diagonal camera? :-)

  5. #5

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bowen View Post
    Ok Bruce, I purchased the book. Now, will I need to have Richard build me a 19" diagonal camera? :-)
    Why go so small? And what about HD? Richard could invent HDULF...

    Victoria notes that a number of ideas Block discusses are ones she had to discuss in her application for a Handspinning Certificate of Excellence (which she got, only the 30th one since 1978 in the entire universe...proud husband).

    Block has cogent explanations of line, shape, form, color, tone, movement, and rhythm, and how they relate to emotional impact in their use (which is the part I've never seen). It seems to me that the only difference is that he's making 24 photographs a second, while we struggle to make one.

    It's interesting for me to remember that at Pemaquid Point with you two weeks ago, Mr. Bowen, that I was stunned by how "musical" I found those rocks to be. "Musical" became my dominating metaphor for the day - the geology was all about movement and rhythm. They danced. 432 35mm negatives later (from one day with a sore hip), as I told you privately yesterday, I've got proof sheets that I'm tallying 18 of 35 that I want to print. Yup, I'm gonna put them in the Proof Cellar to age, but Victoria looked and agreed, so 18 is not going to become 5 or probably even 10. Inspiration can be a scary thing sometimes.

    Richard and I laugh at each other - he tells me I photograph movement, and I tell him he photographs shape. It's true. We tried one day long ago to switch - he to do movement, I to do shape. We used Polaroid and compared. One look and we laughed. We miserably failed to switch. More practice needed, we decided.

    I bought the book for my budding filmmaker son, who, while he hasn't read it yet (Dad snagged it), he will likely be polite after he does and say that it validated a lot that he knew intuitively, and made it more conscious (extremely talented boy...proud dad). His (alas, digital) photography is getting very good, too - especially portraits.

    And then, we watched "Bound for Glory" last night, photographed by Haskell Wexler, one of Hollywood's all-time best. I watched the film in an entirely new way, and was greatly rewarded. I think "Days of Heaven" will be tonight's fare (Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler again). And I'm still wallowing in seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" in 70mm in a theatre a week ago. Incredible. Made 60" HD at the bar look fuzzy (and I only have one beer when I'm there, so it's not me!). Wish I'd cracked the book before I saw it.

    Good book.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  6. #6

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Hey Bruce I should have been in NE a week ago. I saw the 70mm projection of "Lawrence of Arabia" a couple of years ago in Austin. I was blown away by the cinematography. The way some compositions were connected to the essence of the film were astounding. One of the greatest shots in moviedom was Omar Sharif on horseback in the distance approaching his well. Full 5 minutes of anticipation?

    Nate Potter, Boston MA.

  7. #7
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    There's a lot to be learned from studying cinematography. We (I speak as a cinematographer, though I am not yet. I am a camera assistant and operator, still learning) traditionally didn't have the control over the image post exposure that still photographers always have. We couldn't dodge or burn. Our exposures had to be extremely consistent because the images aren't singles in a vacuum but were intercut in a scene where any mistake is magnified. Cropping was never done, we must display the entire frame with extremely few exceptions. There are more but these are some of the things that can be gained from studying the somewhat younger sister art of cinematography.
    Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by Pawlowski6132 View Post
    Grow a pair and go shoot.

  8. #8

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Paying attention to the cinematography in movies is a mixed blessing. Sometimes a really crappy movie will have great camera work, which gives you a distraction from the crappy dialog if you have to stay and watch the movie. Other times, in a great movie, you find yourself watching the camera work, then wondering what you just missed in the dialog.:-)

    The well scene is great. A favorite of mine is the graveyard scene in Dr. Zhivago, another David Lean film.

    I think movies killed my urge to do color landscapes and scenics - they do them so well I see little to add.

  9. #9

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Watch DVDs and turn off the sound, whether it's a good movie, or a crappy one with good photography (rare). Especially useful if you've read Block's book and know, specifically and consciously, what to look for.

    I think it might almost be useful to watch crappy movies with no sound, and try to figure out what to do better. I think. Haven't tried it.

    Back in the day, I could name you the cinematographer by looking at the movie - I had their styles memorized. That was back when I could remember my own name...
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  10. #10

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    Re: A good book for composition...two, in fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by ASRafferty View Post
    And, for what it's worth, Bruce Block's book can be purchased as an e-Book from Elsevier:

    http://elsevier.insidethecover.com/s...=9780240807799
    But Only for the US!!

    "Thank you for contacting VitalSource Technologies. At the moment we do not sell e-books outside of the U.S. Sorry for the inconvenience."

    Any other e-book source for this book??

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