Saturday, January 21, 2012

Applying Trigonometry to Composition!

The weather was sunny and balmy here in North Carolina earlier this week, so I decided to go out and try to illustrate some basic lessons in composition.  Although there are no hard and fast “rules” in photography, and although it is completely possible to be self taught, there are some universal esthetic principles that date back to the Greeks (look at pictures of the Parthenon, for example) and which were first put to extensive print analysis in Luca Pacioli's Divina Proportione in 1509.
Usually known as the Golden Rectangle, a mathematical theory was developed by the Greeks and explored more scientifically by Pacioli which has been followed by artists ever since. Distilling this theory to esthetic principles is known as the Rule of Three or Thirds in photography. Essentially the goal is to divide your frame into third, not halves or fourths. The thought here is that thirds give a picture some dynamic tension, whereas halves or fourths are so centered they tend to make the picture feel “at rest.”
In any even the goal of thinking about this “rule” as you take pictures is as much about getting you to actually “think” about your composition as it is to get you to follow any “rule.” In other words, position your primary objects carefully ,and above all, avoid clutter! Think about “three” – no more than three major objects or groups of objects in a picture (often including sky and other blank space). And above all, don’t center your central object – have it slightly off center to create the feeling of dynamic tension I talked about above.
With that in mind, I explored an old country store and related outbuilding – carefully setting up each shot, always knowing exactly what was in my frame and where each object was. How do you think I did?oHow do you think I did?


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