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Thread: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

  1. #1
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Ok, here's something I just haven't settled on; when a subject is in motion I know it's preferred to lead them/it a little so they 'have somewhere to go'; my approach has been that's not as important when subjects are still.

    What do you think?

    Here's an example; clearly the activity (I'm still considering this a still shot) is in the right side of the frame however I'm more or less trailing the subject by placing the negative space camera left:

    Composition | When to lead and when to follow

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Having space for a moving subject to 'move into' just works and creates a balanced image IMO.

    Rules are meant to be broken though, using the opposite effect can create tension which can add or detract from the image.

    In this case it's kind of working but maybe a wider field of view to capture more of the boy and his bike would improve it.
    Last edited by dubaiphil; 9th September 2012 at 04:33 PM.

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    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Thanks Phil! I've maxed out how much bike is available in this shot but there's always next time - appreciate the perspective (pun intended)...

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Moving to a 24 f1.4 gets a bit pricey!

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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    With this particular scene, I think I would crop the left side and end up with a different size ratio, say 5 x 4 ratio or something similar.

    However, if you need the current size, the shot still works.

    I wonder if showing more of the bike would actually add confusion over the subject matter and detract from the boy.

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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Oh, you know, being me, I want to see nothing but the child. His face is to precious to have all those other distractions! I'd crop it real close. Just me . . .

  7. #7
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by dubaiphil View Post
    Moving to a 24 f1.4 gets a bit pricey!
    You bet!

  8. #8
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    With this particular scene, I think I would crop the left side and end up with a different size ratio, say 5 x 4 ratio or something similar.

    However, if you need the current size, the shot still works.

    I wonder if showing more of the bike would actually add confusion over the subject matter and detract from the boy.
    Thanks Geoff, I think you're right; bikes are a mess of poles and angles so at his size one could easily overwhelm the composition. Was taken in the entryway of Flagler college in St. Augustine, Florida; neat place...

  9. #9
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    Oh, you know, being me, I want to see nothing but the child. His face is to precious to have all those other distractions! I'd crop it real close. Just me . . .
    How's this?

    Composition | When to lead and when to follow

  10. #10

    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    While I agree that rules (or rather guidelines) are made to be ignored they are guidelines for a reason.

    Empty space works when there is a good reason for it - IE when it generates a feeling. The example of a moving subject is a good one - empty space in front helps give the feeling of motion. Empty space behind can give the feeling that they have come from somewhere. However, empty space behind a static subject doesn't elicit feelings of motion (it would feel strange if it did). In a shot of an lone object/person viewed from a distance empty space can also work to enhance the feeling of loneliness/space.

    In this photo the subject is the boy's interaction with the bike. Does the empty space enhance the feelings generated by this - for me no. It is just dead space that my eyes have to traverse to get to the interesting part of the image. If there was an additional interaction taking place (say a family member looking on from a distance) then empty space would add to that interaction - but as it is it adds nothing for me, and therefore detracts from the impact of the image.

    I much prefer Robert's crop of the OP.

  11. #11
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    Re: Composition | When to lead and when to follow

    Maybe just me, but I would crop out the window, I find it distracting (too bright).

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