Monday, May 23, 2011

Not So Random Trees ~ Mono Monday!

"Poplar, Pine, and Karst"

Someone asked me the other day why composition seems to come so naturally to me, while they struggle with it daily no matter what they aim their camera at. It took me a while to sort out an answer, and I still don't know if it's even a remotely intelligent one but I gave it my best shot.

"Firstly," I said, "we need to clear something up. Composition doesn't 'come" to anybody, naturally or otherwise. You have to be on the lookout for it. I call composing in the lens 'containing the chaos'. Creating order in the lens from subject matter that initially captivated some part of you, the photographer. Secondly, being careful about how we word the concept of composition is key here. Two things have to happen if you want to size up things compositionally. You have to understand elements of design, and be able to see the prominent elements in whatever scene you're viewing... but you also have to be able to decide if they help accomplish whatever purpose you had in taking that photo, whether it was to provide a story, emotional responses or simple information. And to be so aware of what makes up a great composition, that eventually the process from seeing to photographing becomes as easy as breathing. Some of us need more time getting to that point than others that's all."

What ensued was a pretty lengthy chat on really looking around you and seeing things beyond their immediate context to create artistic images, and so on and so forth. And that's a story for another blog post. But what they did suggest was perhaps I could review here on the blog the building blocks of composition and design and include images that would help define them for the artistically challenged, or those that just want to understand why they love certain things looking a certain way in their photos. And I thought, why not? Even if I'm the only person that benefits from it, (and I know I could)
this could be a good challenge.

As for today's image, I love the challenge of photographing the nature trails in the area. Finding a solid composition within the forest layers. Those aren't just random trees I decided I liked framed. The forest floor climbs and weaves into the scene in the foreground, the trees are fairly uniform in shape and size and have light patterning across them, and they seem to surround the one piece of karst giving it proper emphasis. It has interesting tones throughout, some nice contrasting shadows, and feels very solitary. And I knew this type of composition would translate into B&W well.

So, coming up next... examples of design and composition, and my favorite ways to use them in a photo. It won't be anything mind blowing, won't win me a Pulitzer by any means... but you get to step into my brain. If you dare.
Thanks for the ramble, and have a good one.

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