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  1. #1

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    question/musings on composition

    Bear with me, and I'll try to get to the point ASAP:

    I am somewhat intrigued with images that contain some very small point of interest, that the viewer might not notice right away, but which looms large once spotted. Two examples that come to mind are these:

    Brett Weston's "47th Street" (named by others?):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/40045986@N00/3067167042/

    Wynn Bullock's "The Limpet" (second from left, second row):

    http://lumieregallery.net/artists_wp...h/index_8.html


    Now changing gears a bit; I recently became aware of the work of a painter named Clyfford Still. (He may become as famous as he'll ever be because of this: http://news.yahoo.com/colorado-woman...051057896.html )

    Many of his paintings have broad swaths of several colors, but many also contain a small bit of some very different color, attracting your eye like the like the small objects in the above photos. See the small spot of blue in the second painting, and the bit of red in the third, here:

    http://raggedclothcafe.com/2007/03/2...sandy-donabed/

    Many of the paintings also contain bits like this right on their edges. Just Google him under "Images" or check out the one in the above news article. Of course we all hear that it is bad to have something like that on the edge of our photos, drawing the eye out of the frome. However, it seems to work in his paintings (or perhaps only I think that?). Maybe because there is often also something larger to draw us back into the interior each time we are pulled to the edge.

    So now I finally get to the point: does anyone know of examples of this in photography? That is, putting something of major interest on the edge of a photo, cutting it off partially or almost entirely? Have any of you tried this?

  2. #2

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Check out Arnold Newman's Stravinsky portrait.

  3. #3

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Don't generally see this and can't quickly find an example. I generally would classify this sort of thing as a gimmick unless a clear connection is made between the artifact and the rest of the picture. There needs to be some sort of connection, however elusive.

    Perhaps some of this technique I recall from Cartier Bresson where he employs his "moment in time" approach. A number of his images have events within the same images widely separated in space and sometimes virtually at the edge of the frame and even partly out of the frame giving the sensation of time gone by.

    Interesting approach though.

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  4. #4

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Thanks, Tom. I really like Stravinsky's music, and had never seen this portrait. I think it is the kind of thing I'm looking for.

    Nathan, I see where you are coming from, but I would question whether it would be any more contrived than the near-far compositions popular with wide lens owners. Well maybe that is just a gimmick too!

  5. #5

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    h2oman, I just read that news article you included in your first post.
    Imagine someone rubbing their buttocks and urinating on your work...

  6. #6

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom J McDonald View Post
    h2oman, I just read that news article you included in your first post.
    Imagine someone rubbing their buttocks and urinating on your work...
    That's why my chosen medium is electrified barbed wire.

  7. #7

    Re: question/musings on composition

    I've always thought the whole idea of art and composition, etc, was ideally a very selfish undertaking. A come from within sort of approach. Everyone else takes what they can out of it. Some even know it wasn't made for them.

    I remember making a close-up picture of a leaf. Simple. Straightforward. Lots of texture, which I liked. I recall a guy leading a group of people looking at the picture and giving a very long, dry, draw-out explanation of the composition. And one person in the group said, "It's f@cking leaf," which made me smile.

    The leader of the group announced the artist's presence (me) and asked what I felt, what I thought, what emotions were brought to the creation of the composition. I told him I had a cold that day and I saw a f@cking leaf.
    "I meant what I said, not what you heard"--Jflavell

  8. #8
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom J McDonald View Post
    h2oman, I just read that news article you included in your first post.
    Imagine someone rubbing their buttocks and urinating on your work...
    Quote Originally Posted by ericpmoss View Post
    That's why my chosen medium is electrified barbed wire.
    I'm going for photographic emulsion on straight razor blades attached to a heavy-duty drill amidst Jacob's ladders. Oh, yeah, and the sharks with freakin' lasers!

    "What does, 'THIS SIDE TOWARDS ENEMY,' mean?"

    Oh, and there'll be a tiny blinking red light to catch your attention...
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  9. #9
    austin granger's Avatar
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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Here are two pictures that came to mind as I read the thread. The first one is a photo that I seem to like better than anyone else, but there's no accounting for taste, right? Anyway though, what I was trying to do here was give a sense of foreboding and claustrophobia, and draw attention to those two opposite corners, so that the "DO NOT ENTER" becomes not about the shrouded building but about that little escape hatch of sky at upper right. That weird little white patch up there is everything in this picture. Also, I like the way it looks like the photo itself is torn in the corner, or as if you could just peel everything else away.

    Shrouded, Portland


    This next one is more of a hidden object of interest type photo. Though it'll be difficult to see on your computer, I think the large man hanging off the roof in the background really makes this.

    Frankies Franks, 82nd Avenue, Portland



    http://www.flickr.com/photos/austingranger/

  10. #10

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    Re: question/musings on composition

    Quote Originally Posted by h2oman View Post

    So now I finally get to the point: does anyone know of examples of this in photography? That is, putting something of major interest on the edge of a photo, cutting it off partially or almost entirely? Have any of you tried this?
    I can offer this, my "Freeway Portrait, 1967".

    http://www.mergross.com/pictures/freeway_portrait.html

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