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I'm in the process of reading Ian Plant's book Visual Flow, which contains many tools and techniques related to image composition.  I have a question for all of you "serious" photographers out there.  How many of you take a deliberate amount of time to study the fine details of a potential photo before pressing your shutter button?  Do you look at a scene and actually tell yourself "Maybe if I move a little to the left I'll be able to create a dynamic triangle in this image?"  Or, "If I move to a higher elevation I'll be able to take advantage of some strong diagonal lines?"  Do any of you get that specific in your photography, making it a conscious process, or do you just keep moving and looking through your viewfinder until you find a composition that strikes you as being pleasing or powerful or colorful or sedate or whatever without giving any serious thought as to why you feel the way that you do about the scene?  In other words, how much of your photography is deliberate and how much of it is purely visceral?

   
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Registered: 01/21/11
Posts: 12
Location: Maryland's Eastern
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Great question Roger. Speaking for myself, often my composition is purely visceal, but definitely not all the time. When in "visceal mode", I'll take a photo, then move around, covering the same scene from different angles, etc. However, even in visceal mode, I'd say I definitely the compositions I pick are honed by years of photography, such that selecting a composition is ingrained.

There are many time, however, where I do more thinking before pressing the button. Rarely are these thoughts conciously about creating dynamic triangles using diagonal lines. Instead, my thoughts analyze the scene to encorporate concepts such as dyanmic triangles, the golden rule, leading lines, etc without specifically articulating those concepts in my mind. I also try more conciously to separate my subject from distracting backgrounds, create spaces between objects, and look for distracting foregrounds.


Joe Becker
Tacoma, Washington, USA

   
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Registered: 01/13/11
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Location: Tacoma, Washington,
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Thanks for your reply, Joe.  I'm certainly not a professional photographer, but I think that my approach is similar to yours.  I examine a scene first without the camera, looking for interesting elements to include in the composition or interesting points of view, then I'll frame whatever I think will work by looking through my camera's viewfinder.  If I don't get too excited and begin rushing the process, as I look around at the scene through the viewfinder I'll (hopefully!) notice things like crooked horizon lines or unattractive elements that should be eliminated or main subjects that merge together, etc., and then make on-the-spot adjustments.  I guess my approach is more emotional (visceral) than logical, as I'm looking for something that will make me say "Wow!" when I look at it without giving any conscious thought as to what's making me say "Wow!".  If there is such a thing as having "an eye for photography," then maybe that's the approach that I use (or maybe I'm just naively flattering myself).  I certainly have a lot of room for improvement, and I'm always willing to learn.

   
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Registered: 01/21/11
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Location: Maryland's Eastern
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