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Thread: Need help with composition

  1. #1
    abhi's Avatar
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    Need help with composition

    I am working on a composition exercise to show rocks in their environment. The constraint being that the shape of the rock(s) should not be the focus, but they ought to be like point elements and that the overall composition should be pleasing. I have now identified three or four locations that I feel would work, but I have taken a total of like 4 shots because I cannot decide how to shoot. Here are a couple of shots from location #1:

    Need help with composition

    Need help with composition

    The first was taken early in the morning, and second towards the evening.

    For the first one, I was trying for a composition where the rocks provide an impression of holding/stiching the top and bottom half of the image together. I like the light and shadows in the photo, and the rocks stand out a little in colour, but something about it keeps bothering me. I don't know what though.

    In the second one, I feel the tree/bush in the center competes with the rocks in being the main element, and the shot itself is ordinary.

    So, do you think this location has potential? How would you shoot it? If it helps, the rocks face west.

    About "points", this is what the book "photography-the art of composition", that I reading, has to say:

    Although the geometric point is invisible, when doing the exercises you can consider
    a point to be any object that occupies a small compact portion of an image
    A point is dominant if its importance to the subject matter and its position in the image
    determines the overall effect of the image. An example is the placement of a flower head in a
    floral arrangement. In such cases, the composition is constructed around the dominant point.

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    Re: Need help with composition

    My first thought was shoot from ground level, "face to face" as if taking a portrait of them from left, right, center etc., getting shadows for the texture..

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    Re: Need help with composition

    I think Henry has the right idea as to angle, but if you are after rocks in their natural surrounds, then I think you need to make your depth of field much shallower - open up at least two stops. As it sits now, there is way too much conflict between the foliage and the rocks.

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Quote Originally Posted by henry17106 View Post
    My first thought was shoot from ground level, "face to face" as if taking a portrait of them from left, right, center etc., getting shadows for the texture..
    Henry, the second photo is taken from about two feet from ground level. Do you suggest getting even lower? I took another shot from ground level with more of the foreground, but I felt that it took away the focus from the rocks.
    Last edited by abhi; 8th June 2011 at 03:44 AM.

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    I think Henry has the right idea as to angle, but if you are after rocks in their natural surrounds, then I think you need to make your depth of field much shallower - open up at least two stops. As it sits now, there is way too much conflict between the foliage and the rocks.
    Thanks, Chris. I will try this later tomorrow morning so that I can use some of that dappled sunlight through the foliage as side lighting. Maybe with a composition similar to #2, so that the dapple on the ground does not compete with the rocks.

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Well imagining the situation in my head, I would get the camera down to the ground and see how it looks - I sometimes put the camera right on the ground if I have to I know this sounds weird, but I think of things, flowers, rocks trees animals, as if they were people taking a portrait and it helps me. Don't me wrong haha I know they arent alive but its my way of trying to get the photo to come alive. I would probably take photos throughout the day, there may be perfect lighting you havent seen. I am saying all this because you mentioned you want the rocks to be the subject...also, these are just my thoughts, not a teacher haha just like alot of us also here to get suggestions on my own photos. Mind if I play around with these photos?

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Quote Originally Posted by henry17106 View Post
    Well imagining the situation in my head, I would get the camera down to the ground and see how it looks - I sometimes put the camera right on the ground if I have to I know this sounds weird, but I think of things, flowers, rocks trees animals, as if they were people taking a portrait and it helps me. Don't me wrong haha I know they arent alive but its my way of trying to get the photo to come alive. I would probably take photos throughout the day, there may be perfect lighting you havent seen. I am saying all this because you mentioned you want the rocks to be the subject...also, these are just my thoughts, not a teacher haha just like alot of us also here to get suggestions on my own photos. Mind if I play around with these photos?
    I will try what you suggest Henry. Sounds interesting. And feel free to play around with them. Let me know if you wish to work with the raw or a larger tiff. I can upload those, and send you the link.

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Just a thought - what about taking the picture at 90 degrees to where it is now, so along the line of the rocks instead of face on ? Either small rock to large, or the other way round.
    There would then be a line of rocks with a line of tree stems running along side - may make an interesting composition incorporating the rocks but not being the main focus.

  9. #9
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    Re: Need help with composition

    Quote Originally Posted by mk00 View Post
    Just a thought - what about taking the picture at 90 degrees to where it is now, so along the line of the rocks instead of face on ? Either small rock to large, or the other way round.
    There would then be a line of rocks with a line of tree stems running along side - may make an interesting composition incorporating the rocks but not being the main focus.
    Thanks, Mike. I tried this today. It didn't really work because there was nothing that the line led to. I spent a lot of time throughout the day trying out various angles as suggested by Henry, and was not happy with my results. Based on a discussion with Jiro, I think I will let this one be for the time being and move on to simpler subjects. The rocks are in shade for most of the day, and front-lit in the evening, which I feel are making it difficult for me. I will probably come back to it when I am better equipped (in terms of my experience and skill) to handle the situation.

  10. #10

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    Re: Need help with composition

    Hi Abhi - okay, thanks for trying and letting me know why it didn't work. Sometimes you have to know when to give up with something and there's bound to be something else out there that will work for you.

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    2 penny for the guess..

    Re: Need help with composition

    Abhi,

    The second one (B&W) is a bit closer from what I imagine for this. Rocks are "solid" meant to last for thousands of years, plants are fragile, volatile, compared with rocks. If you want, and have the possibility to go back, can you try another shoot ?

    Lay down on your belly, and keep the camera in portrait format. Stay at 40cm-50mm from that small plant, which is between rocks and cast shadow on the left rock, and compose that using the crack in the stone as "diagonal" line in the picture. Rotate the camera in landscape format and compose again.

    As a personal opinion, those stones are to close to trees to be able to isolate them on other way then the lower point possible ( at least I dont see one). A second possibility is the first from the left (top picture), from very top (close enough to fill the frame) and compose using the difference in rock colour

    Anyway, if you don't want to go back anymore, you have another point of view in this matter (I can really understand, from time to time is better to abandon a subject for a while)

    Leo
    PS: If I should pass one exam based on this subject ... I'll be still in first class

  12. #12
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    Re: Need help with composition

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoLeo View Post
    Abhi,

    The second one (B&W) is a bit closer from what I imagine for this. Rocks are "solid" meant to last for thousands of years, plants are fragile, volatile, compared with rocks. If you want, and have the possibility to go back, can you try another shoot ?

    Lay down on your belly, and keep the camera in portrait format. Stay at 40cm-50mm from that small plant, which is between rocks and cast shadow on the left rock, and compose that using the crack in the stone as "diagonal" line in the picture. Rotate the camera in landscape format and compose again.

    As a personal opinion, those stones are to close to trees to be able to isolate them on other way then the lower point possible ( at least I dont see one). A second possibility is the first from the left (top picture), from very top (close enough to fill the frame) and compose using the difference in rock colour

    Anyway, if you don't want to go back anymore, you have another point of view in this matter (I can really understand, from time to time is better to abandon a subject for a while)

    Leo
    PS: If I should pass one exam based on this subject ... I'll be still in first class
    Thank you, Leo. I think I have a composition in mind that would work to produce a decent photo, but I will have to wait to find the right lighting situation. I like both your suggestions, specially the one of shooting from top. I will try them at a later time. Right now, I want to show how they fit (or do not fit) in their environment. So, I would not want to isolate the rocks too much from the trees which is part of their environment. As you noted, it is also almost impossible due to the proximity of the rocks to the trees.

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