Thursday, 5 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

I came across a book called "All about Composition and your Camera" a couple of weeks ago. This book is over 50 year old and explains Composition in photography which still holds up today in this digital age. I will be over the next couple of weeks be posting extracts from this book for you to read and hopefully learn from.
The posts will cover the following starting with the introduction here and then - Eyes and the Lens - Artist's and Photographers - Limitations - Be Direct - Get Close - Try to Simplify - Size - Definition - Light - Colour - Depth - Movement - Unity of Purpose - Unity of Matter - Unity of Manner.
So let's get started.

All about Composition and your Camera.



As a matter of fact, I should have preferred to call this a spelling-book of photographic expression. Whether you will have any need for it at all I don't know. Happily, some people seem to be born with all kinds of knowledge. Others must just pick up their wisdom as they go, almost sub-consciously. Still, most of us feel more confident with some sort of reference-book within reach.
I am sure, however, nobody will expect to produce masterpieces of photographic art merely by memorising rules and adhering to them. Nobody is known to have ever become a poet by studying the rules of rhythm and rhyme; or a painter by reading all the theories on colour. But millions of people have been enabled to produce nice letters by learning how to organise their thoughts into paragraphs and how to compose their words into sentences.
"Composition" does not seen to have a complicated meaning after all. To compose a sentence, a letter or a picture, means merely to put it together in an orderly, purposeful fashion. Similarly, composing a photograph is just to organise its contents as clearly as possible : making our picture show the subject and only the subject which we meant to take, and to show it as we saw it.
Camera manufacturers promise a lot, but they cannot possibly claim to do this for you. True, you press the button and can be sure to get a picture. the question is only what kind of picture you get. You may be pleased with it, because you know what you meant to take and the image seems to show you what you saw. But look at the faces of your friends as they go through your images. If they are not very self-controlled, they seem often enough unimpressed, a bit douthful, almost critical. They may even be inclined to ask you questions.
Is that grey patch in the background the Wicklow mountains? And are these blurred lines in the left corner Sarah's toys?
This inquisitlveness is the more embarrassing as the picture in question was merely meant to show a family group picnicking - and just a family group picnicking. Not for a single moment were you considering the Wicklow mountains and Sarah's toys. Of course, they were there and some other things, too, but you did not care about them when pressing the shutter button. And although one cannot help noticing them now, they should still be of the same unimportance. Why should your friends bother about them ? Why on earth should other people's attention be fixed on such trifles?
I am afraid the main trouble is caused by the peculiar way in which our eyes perceive things and the definitely different methods of the camera lens.


  1. This could prove very useful. Thank you.

  2. How very true, I think photographers are so critical of our own work, but as I say everytime I go out "shoot lots get lucky sometimes" lol