The Tuesday Composition: Just Move!

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

Keep moving!

Skägafoss Detail
Skägafoss Detail

One of the best things about giving “shoot and critique” workshops is that I get the opportunity to see what participants can make out of a given situation. It’s great to see how different and interesting their visions are-I constantly learn things from my students by observing their photographic vision. But it’s also a great environment for me to be able to give knowledgeable feedback. Over the years, one of the most common themes I’ve seen in my feedback, particularly to beginning photographers, is suggesting that the image might have improved if the photographer had moved a little-whether left, right, forward, back, up or down.

Every movement of the camera and photographer changes the “choreography” of the images, some subjects get bigger, some smaller, and the position of the elements involved changes as well. Perhaps some appear – or disappear – around other objects. The positioning of the objects in the frame changes as well, movement is a powerful photographic tool. (more…)

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The Tuesday Composition: Composing Images with Water

Surf, Garrapata Beach
Surf, Garrapata Beach. Still images can't capture motion in water, but they can communicate the idea.

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

Like mist and fog, water is a subject that deserves it’s own consideration compositionally. With the exception of very still lakes and ponds, one of the things that makes water “look like water” to us is the way that it moves. We can’t present this movement in a still image to a viewer directly. Instead, we have to translate it into a still image by making an exposure; and we use a variety of controls such as shutter speed and composition to help communicate a sense of that motion.

When we want to capture a sense of movement in water there are several things to keep in mind. Shutter speed has a significant effect-a waterfall, cascade or even surf against a coastline will have a very soft, gentle feel if we use a long exposure. Faster exposures will stop individual droplets in air, creating a greater sense of energy.  Shutter speed isn’t the only thing to keep an eye on, though. The way we compose the path of water through a scene can also affect how viewers experience water moving through a scene. Where possible, try and make it easy for the viewer’s eye to trace along the lines of the water’s path. Your images will (all other things being equal) be more effective if the visual flow of the water isn’t interrupted by things that block the view of the water. Diagonals and  S-curves can also create an additional sense of motion. (more…)

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The Tuesday Composition: Space to Move Into, Space to Look Into

Casual Climber, Buttermilks.
Casual Climbing, Buttermilks.

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

We’ve talked a fair bit about symmetry and asymmetry, it’s time now to talk about direction-various meanings and feelings that come along with where in absolute terms we place subjects in an image. There are several concepts “in play” when we talk about direction, so I’ll be devoting two, perhaps three columns of the Tuesday Composition to the topic.

The connection between direction and movement is a significant part of deciding where to best place objects in an image. When we have a moving subject in a scene, we often find it more natural when there’s more room “in front of” the moving object than behind it. That additional space we give the object to “move into” seems to suggest more movement from the object and can be part of telling a story about where the object is going to.

In  Casual Climbing, providing the rock climber more space to ‘climb into” contributed to a sense of movement and also provided, along with other cues, a sense of danger and excitement.  We’re left with no doubt that the climber is heading up. (more…)

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