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Thread: Composition - tips and recommended reading?

  1. #1

    Composition - tips and recommended reading?

    I am new to photographing. Anyway i consider composition is the key to photography. but surprisingly there is very little about composition is written(probably i have not searched correctly). Please provide/suggest me tutorials or books about composition. (I am interested in portraits and wedding photographing)

    Anyway i have couple of issues related to composition.

    I have a 50D and it has 9 focusing points. But sometimes when I try to get the correct frame or the composition there is no focusing point on the subject or the auto focusing point on the subject is not working. What should i do in order to get the correct exposure ? (Should i go to manual focusing and getting the photo or should i just get the photo and consider about the composition while cropping ? this will not be practical all the time)

    Also this may lead to some other issues like , producing a not correctly exposed images. Since the camera try to get the exposure of the focused point and set the exposure of the other ares related to that (even in evaluational meeting mode). How to avoid it ?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by sauron View Post
    but surprisingly there is very little about composition is written(probably i have not searched correctly).
    Sauron

    I am surprised that you have had difficulty finding information about composition. I do not know if your first language is English and whether you mean that there is very little information written in your first language.

    For material written in English, a very good first place to commence is by reading Sean's contribution on this site - click here.

    I think your question takes you into two other areas that are not about composition. They are about 1) focusing and, 2) exposure. It is agreed that all elements are important in producing a high quality image. But, for the purposes of learning, I think it is important that you consider each to be a seperate subject.

    I am sure that your Owners Manual for the 50D, will explain how to use focusing points. It will explain how you can use different focusing points, or how you can focus using one focus point and have the camera hold that focus whilst you then re-compose. Similarly, you can set up your camera so that you can lock the exposure and then re-compose. All of this will be explained in the Manual.

  3. #3

    Re: Composition

    Thank you for your great reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post

    I am surprised that you have had difficulty finding information about composition. I do not know if your first language is English and whether you mean that there is very little information written in your first language.

    For material written in English, a very good first place to commence is by reading Sean's contribution on this site - click here.
    Yep, my mother tongue is not English but I am comfortable with English (at least reading..). I haven't read much about composition, but i have only encountered three major rules about composition so far (Rule of Thirds,Golden Section rule,Diagonal rule). Since some composition rules are valid for some specific types of photography I wonder(i would rather doubt about this ) there wont be more than 20 rules about the composition in photography. So does the sense of composition is inherited (from experience) rather learned.




    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post

    I am sure that your Owners Manual for the 50D, will explain how to use focusing points. It will explain how you can use different focusing points, or how you can focus using one focus point and have the camera hold that focus whilst you then re-compose. Similarly, you can set up your camera so that you can lock the exposure and then re-compose. All of this will be explained in the Manual.
    Here this is not what i mean. I am aware of changing the auto focusing points and i do it in most of time. But practically in some situations I cant achieve the rule of third or the golden section rule since the camera's auto focusing points are not aligned to a grid. (50D it is looks like a -==- rather a grid. I wonder why they dont arrange it as a grid anyway ?? ) So sometimes you cant get a frame where you have a auto focusing point in a golden section (on top of a line intersection on the grid).

    Lets say you have a beautiful tree on the ground, you want to get a better frame so you can compose the image more correctly, so you apply the rule of third and keep the horizon 1/3 of the image. also you apply the golden section rule so you place the tree in a one line intersection. but unfortunately there wont be any auto focusing point available at that point, to focus on the tree. So the only option left is to go to manual focus mode. But if you want some objects to be focused in and some to be focused out this will not work. Am i missing something here ???

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by sauron View Post
    So sometimes you cant get a frame where you have a auto focusing point in a golden section (on top of a line intersection on the grid). ... Am i missing something here ???
    Sauron

    I think the point that I did not explain well, is that it is possible to do this and still use autofocus. I use a 40D and do not know if the 50D deals with this differently.

    But, by the way you set up the menu options, you can make it so that the focus will lock when you press the shutter button half-way. So:
    • You compose your image in the viewfinder
    • You then move the camera so that your autofocus point does cover the subject you wish to focus upon
    • You press and hold the shutter half-way down (this captures the focus and locks it)
    • You move the camera back to the composition that you want.


    This is the information I meant was available from within your Owner Manual. I apologise if I am not understanding your question correctly. Other people reading this will, I hope, offer their advice.

  5. #5

    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Sauron
    This is the information I meant was available from within your Owner Manual. I apologise if I am not understanding your question correctly. Other people reading this will, I hope, offer their advice.
    Well your advice and answer is quite impressive and i m so grateful for that. You dont need to apologies for any thing coz i know i have not asked it correctly. I always welcome advices and openings from the other people all the time. So thank you again.


    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Sauron

    But, by the way you set up the menu options, you can make it so that the focus will lock when you press the shutter button half-way. So:
    • You compose your image in the viewfinder
    • You then move the camera so that your autofocus point does cover the subject you wish to focus upon
    • You press and hold the shutter half-way down (this captures the focus and locks it)
    • You move the camera back to the composition that you want.
    I have not complete reading the manual yet and honestly it is so boring... I know its so impotent though. Anyway i tried your approach and it seems to be working quite impressively. So the trick here is (if not please correct me) getting the focus first (rather getting the composition first) and consider the composition once the focus is captured. That brings me directly to another question. Why we need more than one auto focus points ? since the focusing is done prior to framing, the central point can be used all the time ?? (Anyway please forgive my stupidity to ask such a question ..)
    Last edited by sauron; 30th May 2010 at 03:32 PM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    So the trick here is (if not please correct me) getting the focus first (rather getting the composition first) and consider the composition once the focus is captured.
    This is possible. However, many people consider it important that you should do the composition first. The only reason for this is so that, once you do get the focus set, you can very quickly go back and capture the shot - because you know exactly what your composition is going to be. So, it is not necessary to compose first, but it does make the whole process easier.

    That brings me directly to another question. Why we need more than one auto focus points ? since the focusing is done prior to framing, the central point can be used all the time ?? (Anyway please forgive my stupidity to ask such a question ..)
    That is a very good question. There are people on this site with a much greater technical knowledge than I have and they will, I hope, provide an opinion. But, I only use the centre spot for focusing, as you suggest. I find it works perfectly well for me.

  7. #7

    Re: Composition

    Sauron

    You have more than one auto-focus point because normally you want the nearest subject in focus (say, a shot of a person standing in front of a landscape) so the camera will select the (near) subject by utilising whatever focus point is near that subject.

    I must say, since I had my cataracts removed last year and new lens implants put in, my eyesight is very good (don't need to wear glasses obviously) and I can, and do, rely upon manual focus a lot. Many of my shots are close-ups or macro so manual focus works best for those anyway. But I also use manual focus for some landscapes. If your eyesight is good, then it is more reliable.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by sauron View Post
    ~ That brings me directly to another question. Why we need more than one auto focus points ? since the focusing is done prior to framing, the central point can be used all the time ?? (Anyway please forgive my stupidity to ask such a question ..)
    The answer will soon become more obvious if you try to shoot a moving subject

    Imagine a say, a tiger pacing back and forth in his cage, as it moves from right to left in front of you, you select one of the left hand focus points so that you get the eye sharp and the body all in frame, when it changes direction, you select one of the right hand focus points for the same reason.

    Here's an example screen grab showing the focus point I used (stored in EXIF data) from an uncropped thumbnail image

    Composition - tips and recommended reading?

    There's no time to reframe for composition with moving subjects, you have to do the best you can and having more points helps.
    If there were only a central focus point, the tail wouldn't be in shot
    or I'd have to zoom out and crop more in PP to get the desired composition.

    By the way, it was not a stupid question - just one arising from lack of experience .. to which end, I really would advise you experiment more yourself if you don't want to read the manual - I haven't read all mine either
    So get out and shoot lots of things, trying different settings, and see what works and what doesn't.

    Hopefully, from the questions you have asked and had answered recently, you'll soon reach the point where it will all begin to make more sense and hang together. The next step is you'll start working things out for yourself, trying them to confirm, then you're away with the rest of us.

    As a first step; try to think of many reasons why composing first is a good idea?
    Think of all the things that might change while you're trying to keep that button half pressed and composing ....

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th May 2010 at 08:31 PM.

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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Here's an example screen grab showing the focus point I used (stored in EXIF data) from an uncropped thumbnail image

    Composition - tips and recommended reading?

    ,
    Dave, can you please tell me which bit of exif gumph tells you where the focus area is? I sometimes look back at images and think 'What the hey was I focussing on?'

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    Re: Composition

    Sauron,
    I also have the 50D and when I first got it decided I should read the manual. Very quickly realised it told me things but didn't explain things. I got hold of the Canon EOS 50D Digital Field Guide by Charlotte Lowrie from Amazon and have now put the manual in the rucksack and have almost worn out the pages of the Field Guide.
    It tells you things and explains things in terms I can understand. For Example with the Custom Functions it explains fully what happens with each choice you can make. Even has a section on DPP for RAW processing.
    I would suggest it is a very good investment to get to understand what the 50D is capable of.
    Has a good section on the AF points which will go a long way to answering your question.
    David

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    Re: Composition

    >> Dave, can you please tell me which bit of exif gumph tells you where the focus area is? I sometimes look back at images and think 'What the hey was I focussing on?

    I'm not Dave but I can answer the question. If you have a Nikon you can use ViewNX, which is a free program that comes with the camera. There is an option to turn on the focus points. Canon likely has something similar.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Dave, can you please tell me which bit of exif gumph tells you where the focus area is? I sometimes look back at images and think 'What the hey was I focussing on?'
    Hi Kit,

    I don't read it from the EXIF, this graphical representation is what you get using Nikon's ViewNX (the free one) on the CD-ROM or downloadable from Nikon's website - well, it is in Europe, hope it is where you are.

    I use ViewNX for copying them off the memory card (in laptop reader) and saving to ext. USB HDD because of this feature and mainly the (fairly) quick and easy 100% positionable loupe function. It has other shortcomings, but on balance, for now, works for me.

    When I want to edit, I don't change anything in ViewNX; I right click the image and open with Elements Editor, which opens ACR first from the .nef RAW files.

    Cheers,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    ~ I'm not Dave but I can answer the question. If you have a Nikon you can use ViewNX, which is a free program that comes with the camera. There is an option to turn on the focus points. Canon likely has something similar.
    Beat me to it, thanks Ben

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    Re: Composition

    One thing to remember about composition is that the rules are written to be broken.

    There is something about a scene which grabs your attention which makes you want to capture the shot. that is where you start, Fine tuning the composition follows, but always keep in mind the original scene which grabbed your eye. Sometimes, you just can't get the shot which adheres to the "rules." That is called "Tough, kiddo."

    The rule of thirds, golden section and others are guides. Tho camera captures and stores the photograph. The picture was what grabbed your attention in the first place. This is true of posed shots as well as walk-about shots. You have a picture in your mind. That is what you concentrate on, using the rules to get you close and using your mind and eye to create the picture. If the frame under the rules doesn't add or make the picture, don't use it.

    Pops

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    Re: Composition

    Hi,
    I never walked "about shots".There were many situations when,having the camera in my bag,I forgot about it saying myself "what a wonderful image I'm so sorry I have no camera!"
    That is me,I'm so sorry!
    Radu Dinu
    Last edited by Radu Dinu Cordeanu; 1st June 2010 at 06:04 AM.

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    Re: Composition

    Dave & Ben: yes, I do have a nikon and never did load that particular disk. I just whack the card into the laptop card reader and download that way, but I'll have to have a scrabble under the bed and find that disk, now. Thanks!

    @ Radu: mate, that is the story of my life. I generally have the camera with me, but just choose the lens I think will be needed. Murphy dictates that it will always be the wrong one...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Dave & Ben: yes, I do have a nikon and never did load that particular disk. I just whack the card into the laptop card reader and download that way, but I'll have to have a scrabble under the bed and find that disk, now. Thanks!
    Hi Kit,

    Might be easier (and less dusty/fluffy?) to try the website, this is for UK, so it may not work for you;
    http://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/a...49/r_id/127673 - this is the link to view a page before downloading ViewNX 1.5.2

    Good luck,

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