• Foundation 1292 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 12:32 p.m.

    I am sorry to see no takers for discussion of this or the other topics proposed by Alan: I was hoping to learn something from the responses.

    I guess my problem is that I am more often than not unable to analyse or describe my own response to art, whether it is visual art, books, or music, though I am heavily into all three. For instance, I can tell you that, among others, I am very fond of the paintings of Turner and Feininger, while I have absolutely no time for Klimt or Botticelli, but I cannot give objective reasons that justify this. A lot of the comments that I see here and elsewhere on member’s photos seem to be exercises in box ticking. (“Great contrast”, “nice lines”, “this object is well balanced by that object”, etc.) I just dont look at things in that way and maybe this “disadvantage” is obvious to others when they see my photos! 😀


  • Members 1143 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 4:16 p.m.

    These after the fact compositional breakdowns of pictures, always leave me a bit perplexed. I would hazard to say the photographer came across this scene and liked it, without really thinking why, took the picture, and made the analysis afterwards.

    I must admit that when I take a picture, I do not consciously analyse anything very much. I see a scene I like and try to sort the contents of the scene into something I like visually, whilst looking through the viewfinder. It might be a quick shot with the 24-200 or it might be one of my more considered shots taken using my shift lenses. Some "rules" might come into play like the "Golden Section", but I do not consciously seek out balance, leading lines or the other rules in the composition cookbook, when I look through the viewfinder. I do look for distracting elements, protruding objects splitting the frame edge, and that sort of thing.

    Principles of composition in photography by Andreas Feininger, www.goodreads.com/book/show/79953.PRINCIPLES_OF_COMPOSITION_IN_PHOTOGRAPHY The best book I have ever read on the subject of composition, is quite scathing in its criticism of leading lines and most other "rules" of composition, citing scientific studies of how we read a photograph. This book that I bought in my early years in photography, has had a huge influence on my photography.

  • Members 1143 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 4:41 p.m.

    A work of art should move us in some way, be it a painting, a photograph or a piece of music. I believe if an artwork needs a lot of "art speak" explanation to get its message across, it has failed. So I do not think you have any problem.

    I have tried truly to understand a lot of the conceptual photography, that seems to be the thing at the moment, but it seems the more I read the less I understand, I wonder if a lot of critics really understand what they are looking at, or if they are going with the flow. The Emperor's New Clothes parable comes to mind, very often.

    As for your "box ticking" comment. Maybe a comment about how the photographer has handled certain aspects like contrast or balance are valid compliments, that are important aspects of how the picture "works". Or maybe it is a way of being polite when subject matter is not very interesting. You are correct. Without interesting subject matter, the skilful use of leading lines and such, is not very important. But "pictorialism" and its academic rules of composition still weigh very heavily in the world of photography.

  • Foundation 1292 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 6 p.m.

    Many thanks for your comments.

    If "the academic rules of visual composition" are anything like those sometimes associated with musical composition (which I do know something about), then they mean nothing to me! Even the photographic "rule of thirds" does not seem to me to be very helpful as a guiding principle.


  • Members 599 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 6:57 p.m.

    Jean luc Godard broke all the established rules of filmmaking and rewrote them. He shaped cinematic history with his provocative contributions to the French New Wave.
    Just like Ornette Coleman did for Jazz music...

  • Removed user
    Nov. 18, 2023, 7:02 p.m.

    I have a name for that - I call it SPV (Standard Photographic Vague). Like yourself, I prefer specific text with examples and even credible references.

    By coincidence, I had just now written elsewhere:

    To continue this discussion, we need to be a lot less vague than "it will eventually", "absorbing the heat", "doesn't dissipate as quickly", etc.


  • Members 508 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 7:32 p.m.

    There is a lot of BS spoken and written in the word of art and photography, it’s been that way for a long time.
    I’m not referring to any of the posts in this thread… btw.

    “There are no rules here -- we're trying to accomplish something.”
    Thomas Edison


  • Members 1143 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 10:05 p.m.

    The rule of thirds is a crude approximation of the classical "Golden Section", which is a ratio of about 5:3 or 1:1.618033988749.... if you want precision.
    With 1/X = 0. 612 this is quite different to 0.66 that the rule of thirds gives us.

    Feininger, writes that the Golden Section can be useful if you wish to convey harmony, but the rule of thirds is to far off the mark to be useful.

  • Members 679 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 10:14 p.m.

    There are so much BS going on around the SP. For me the above article is part of this BS. But I kind of liked the other article you posted. Our personality, how we see the world and people, our interests, surroundings , peers. They all affect our style. The challenge is to break routine and try different things.
    I make too far many photos by using the architectural elements, geometry, light and try to combine them with some human elements.

    I think I can say that I get some reasonable results. But I dont want to take this sort of shots, I want to make photos that show emotions, interactions of human beings. To be able to do this I need to get closer to people.

  • Members 960 posts
    Nov. 18, 2023, 11:40 p.m.

    The point of the resources is to improve our photographic awareness. None of these things are absolute rules to be adhered to blindly. The best breakers of rules know the rules and understand why they break them. Meanwhile, articles like these can improve both our own photography and our appreciation of the photography of others.

  • Foundation 1292 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 9:41 a.m.

    Sorry! It’s also too intellectual to be of any assistance to me.


  • Members 613 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 1:42 p.m.

    I have read two things recently that struck me:

    1 was: "Look at what you are seeing, and see what you're looking at".

    Take the time to really look at the scene in front of you. What was it about the scene that caused you to want to take a picture of it in the first place? And then, really look at its form and composition and texture and light. How do the elements in the scene work together?

    The other was from an Army Ranger or a Navy Seal or someone who said that his drill instructor constantly hammered home the need to read the terrain from right to left.

    We are used to reading things from left to right. We anticipate what's coming and overlook things. We get complacent.
    Reading the scene from right to left forces you to slow down and really concentrate on what you are looking at.

    I thought those were two good maxims.

    Steve Thomas

  • Foundation 1292 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 4:09 p.m.

    I wonder whether that depends on which side of the road they drive on in one’s country...


  • Members 613 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 5:29 p.m.


    He was talking about reading a book, or the sentence you are looking at right now.

    Steve Thomas

  • Foundation 1292 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 5:38 p.m.

    But what if you are used to reading Hebrew also?
    I do think the concept of looking before crossing the road is also relevant. That is much closer to "reading a scene".


  • Members 599 posts
    Nov. 19, 2023, 7:33 p.m.

    ...or possibly the street you are crossing in London:

  • Nov. 19, 2023, 9:52 p.m.

    I really like this idea.