Systematic Approach to Solid Composition

The following is my book review for Michael Freeman: The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos. This review was originally written on February 14th, 2009. Wording slightly revised here.

To maximize the quality and visual impact of a photograph, solid composition is essential. The figure I uploaded, "composition triangle", illustrates my understanding to major aspects of a solid photo composition after reading Michael Freeman's book The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos. Three vertexes are tool, skill, and intent. To maximize the area of the composition triangle, all three vertexes need to be well positioned.

Three essentials of the tool are camera body, optics and lighting. A small part of Chapter 3, 4 and 6 does discuss the impacts of different tools (optics, exposures, light, post-processing software) to composition and proper situations for employing them.

"Skill" comprises the following aspects:

  • High familiarity of the mechanic control of the tools.
  • The ability of swiftly executing all necessary procedures for making a photograph that expresses/translates clearly defined intent. Be the intent from oneself or directed/instructed by others. This ability comes from compositional knowledge and photo-shooting experiences.

A great part of this book elaborates design principles in art with many picture examples. It is very well organized educational text on both gestalt theory:  frame proportion, visual balance, visual rhythm, visual contrast, etc,  and photographic elements (point, line, motion, etc.).

The intent is the most elusive part of the "composition triangle". It is what the photographer wants to express/translate in photographs. It might have nothing directly to do with one's photographing experience, sophistication of one's mind and purity of one's heart are what really matter here. However elusive this part is, the author tried to categorize some common intents and approached this topic in considerable clarity and fluency, in chapter 5.

This book has systematically addressed compositional techniques and philosophy in a focused, clear and concise, non-pretentious writing style. The author's text is as beautiful and intelligent as his photographs. My high admiration and respect to the author Mr. Michael Freeman.

PS: Chapter 2 of this book discussed about Constrast. This is a photo I took in Capri, 2006. My pick for demonstrating the "Contrast": toughness vs tenderness; straight lines vs curves; dark, lifeless colour of the iron grid vs bright and vigorous green leaves. 

No comments:

Post a Comment