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Archive 2012 · Composition by content and exclusion
  
 
ben egbert
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p.1 #1 · Composition by content and exclusion


For landscapes I always level my camera to avoid distortion. I then choose a place to stand, and a focal length that includes what I want to show and excludes what I donít like.

I either lower the camera, use shift on my TSE lens or crop to make minor adjustments to the horizon placement. I ignore rule of thirds. When not using a TSE lens I will aim up or down but only very slightly.

A nearly centered horizon is not at all unusual from a standing position and looks perfectly natural to me. The horizon is what it is.

I walk around to include leading lines, avoid roads or manmade stuff, shadows etc. I then wait for light, or rush to avoid missing it.

As I was driving the Nebo scenic loop Wednesday, I kept seeing these yellow flowers. Then I saw this scene with the fence, flowers and tree backdrop. I tried several compositions but chose these two to show here. Nothing great about either, but they provide an opportunity to talk about how to solve a problem.

The first is my favorite image, but there was no way to avoid my own shadow. You can probably see where I lightened it. Even as I was composing I was thinking about how to clone it out. But I prefer avoidance or reduction to substitution. Advice requested. IE, clone, crop or lighten?

The second one is from a very low position getting closer to the flowers and is aligned to avoid my shadow, but the overall image is not as pleasing to me. These two were pretty much the only options I could see.
Any and all comments welcome.





First composition

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/13.0    1/60s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






Second Composition

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/11.0    1/160s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Aug 11, 2012 at 02:03 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · Composition by content and exclusion


Not that it mitigates the issue of being in the path of the light and casting a shadow, but tripod, timer and "run" (or duck/lay down) my shadow out of the frame has been a mainstay for me.

Of course, that is most effective when the tripod/camera height is not casting its own shadow into the frame, but it's my typical strategy @ avoidance. But when faced with non-avoidance (kinda like shooting spherical chrome and the camera reflection showing up), my experience is that cropping obviously has the most success at making it so the viewer never knew you were there, but it changes your comp.

That being said, if you PLAN for the crop by shooting a bit wider view, you can have you shadow out of the cropped scene. I realize that in the case of use foreshortening technique and relative scale/balance, even this changes things a bit due to the different shooting perspective, but it can be an effective strategy at times.

Good cloning is probably easier to "match" with organic subject matter where the viewer "doesn't detect" the clone as readily. Lightening is probably the toughest. I've had the most success with lightening when working with shadows and only desiring to lighten them vs. remove them. This works best for me when the shadow is "natural" to the scene and it is an issue of "reduction" rather than "elimination" to reduce the pull of the contrast from it. (i.e. Horseshoe Bend shadows)

Of course, a shadow from me & my tripod/camera are anything but "natural" to the scene. Ramblings behind me, you've done a pretty good job with the shadow in the first one ... I had to look for it to find it, even knowing it was supposed to be there.

Shifting to comp ... I prefer the second one, mostly because I'm a foreground junkie and the first one has leading lines that take you "out" of the frame vs. "in" to the frame.

Not sure if you could have shot the first one from the other side of the fence to get a comp you like, but you could have had your shadow on the same side of the fence as the fence shadow. Then it becomes less "unnatural" to the viewer as it doesn't "tell" on itself as much, since the viewer already expects shadows being cast from the fence. The problem becomes amplified when your shadow is cast in an area that the viewer expects none to be cast.



Aug 11, 2012 at 03:55 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #3 · Composition by content and exclusion


ben egbert wrote:
For landscapes I always level my camera to avoid distortion. I then choose a place to stand, and a focal length that includes what I want to show and excludes what I donít like.

I either lower the camera, use shift on my TSE lens or crop to make minor adjustments to the horizon placement. I ignore rule of thirds. When not using a TSE lens I will aim up or down but only very slightly.

A nearly centered horizon is not at all unusual from a standing position and looks perfectly natural to me. The horizon is
...Show more

Thanks for the comments Rusty. First on the comp, content always sways me over compositional rules, and I really like that stand of trees in the first, you know I will be back this fall for those babies. But I know what you mean about the second.

I have another comp closer to the flowers and fence and with only my camera/tripod in the shadow. But the fence is not well positioned.

As soon as I took that first shot with partial cloud cover over the sun, the sun peeped out and it got brighter. I took some with this light and as you can imagine a very prominent shadow. No chance to lighten that. So I selected another grass area and covered it. Here is the result, bare in mind this was in brighter light.

I will also include the other shot near the fence. I did not like the fence post so close to the corner in this one. But the clone job seems better here.





Brighter light

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/8.0    1/160s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






Closer to fence

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/11.0    1/160s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Aug 11, 2012 at 04:16 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #4 · Composition by content and exclusion


No worries @ comp "rules" (see other threads) ... I'm @ comp "tools" and ROT isn't even one of my fav's.

As to the content ... I'd have figured it was the fence, not the trees, that was your content of interest. Looking ahead @ fall colors, I can see how that would be otherwise, but atm, the fence draws me more than the trees (tonal value variation & lines) ... hmmm, would have to think a bit on this one regarding approach to strengthen the trees.



Aug 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM
sadja
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p.1 #5 · Composition by content and exclusion


Hi Ben, Since there is nothing in either image that 'has' to be in it to make sense, I would crop out the problem. Your image 'closer to the fence' is superior to the original because the flowers add some color in the center of the frame. However, I would crop out some of sky to bring the flowers into greater prominence. Of your 2 original images, I prefer the 2nd by a long shot. Unlike bland 1st shot, the flowers bring the 2nd to life.


Aug 11, 2012 at 04:49 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #6 · Composition by content and exclusion


Hi Rusty, I stopped for the flowers. I was just looking for a scene in the right direction and a parking place. As it was I had to park on the road. I am a sucker for old wood, so the fence was a second interest, but I am also a tree lover. Also the road cut appears in the second comp if you know its there. Getting low mitigated that, but haunts my feelings for the shot.

So the first comp includes all three interests and favors the trees at the cost of a more favorable leading line.

I do composition with a few of my own engineer mindset rules as stated in this thread and the rest intuition. I posted this at least in part to reveal my unorthadox ideas. This scene did not well illustrate my acceptance of centered horizons, but does show my approach.

I take the images and never know how well they will work until I am home. But over time, I can return to a location and choose the one I like. I do an awful lot of repeats on scenes. The best ones may follow some accepted comp rule, but I never think much about it in the field and especially not the first go around.

I count most shots as practice and most keepers as accidents







Aug 11, 2012 at 05:05 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #7 · Composition by content and exclusion


sadja wrote:
Hi Ben, Since there is nothing in either image that 'has' to be in it to make sense, I would crop out the problem. Your image 'closer to the fence' is superior to the original because the flowers add some color in the center of the frame. However, I would crop out some of sky to bring the flowers into greater prominence. Of your 2 original images, I prefer the 2nd by a long shot. Unlike bland 1st shot, the flowers bring the 2nd to life.



Thanks Sadja. My reply to Rusty may help explain my prejudice to the original second image. In fact, I think that image would benefit from some bottom crop to pull the main group of flowers even closer. I also think I liked the light of the first better, the rest were a bit too bright.

On the closer fence, making the flowers more prominent was exactly my reason for moving here. I guess I liked it ok except for the way the fence intersects the bottom of the frame.

I often crop WA shots to 16/9, and so far none of these are cropped. As usual your suggestions are very good.



Aug 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · Composition by content and exclusion


Gotcha ... that being said ... the last one works best for me. You might consider a 4:3 format. The foreground fence leads to the flowers leads to the trees. I'm still partial to the second one as well.

Here's a rough sketch at how my eye travels through the scene. The draw varies with elements of tonal values, lines & scale. The sequence varies, but it still shows the concentration area of the draw and the circular ability of it to hold the viewer in the frame while being able to still move about the scene. Good stuff, imo.

Also, there is a degree of symmetry (not mirror) A : B & C : D in the areas of scale & balance created by your leading lines. More good stuff. Not that any of that is a "right" or "wrong" ... just noting some of the subtle differences that can impact how the viewer's eye responds to an image.

Yet, for all my rambling ... I'm still torn between your second one with the strong foreground flowers and your last one in it's original format. I think the choice comes down to "What's your point?" "What is the message that you want to convey to your viewer?" ... i.e. the flowers or the trees as to which represents the "better" of the two. Of course, that largely depends on who your viewer is ... yourself vs. others.

Now I must return my attention to a different landscape & tool ... my yard & my other landscape (non-blue) nemesis, the weed-eater.

















Aug 11, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #9 · Composition by content and exclusion


Hey, Ben in spite of your frequent comments about not having much interest in composition, I have seen you work at it in the field and in discussions. I have come to prefer the term "design" since that helps to connote a positive effort and avoids the ugly "R" word.

Just a couple of quick comments. First you did a great job with your shadow. It is not an issue at all.

Next I prefer the second image. The leading lines of the fence and trees pull our attention into the scene. I am going to need to think about Rusty's post with all the numbered areas with orange and pink areas. I seem to look at these images differently. In theory our eyes are drawn to strong colors, bright areas, high constrast and sharp versus out of focus areas, and the shapes and leading lines also direct our eyes. In your images, everything is sharp and in focus. To my mind there are not any intense colors, or very bright areas at grab our attention so the strong leading lines become very important. My eyes don't seem to bounce around Rusty's areas, instead they are drawn down the fence line. For your second image, the bright patches of yellow flowers help to keep my attention in the center of the image, but the line of the fence still seems to be the most powerful element.

Finally, I think these are the sort of images that would just not receive much interest on the landscape forum. There are no purple skies or explosions of color or weird features. Instead I think they reflect your interest in capturing a beautiful scene with good focus, exposure, and realistic processing. It is certainly a beautiful area and your images make me feel like I am standing there looking at the real scenery.



Aug 11, 2012 at 07:10 PM
 

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ben egbert
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p.1 #10 · Composition by content and exclusion


RustyBug wrote:
Gotcha ... that being said ... the last one works best for me. You might consider a 4:3 format. The foreground fence leads to the flowers leads to the trees. I'm still partial to the second one as well.

Here's a rough sketch at how my eye travels through the scene. The draw varies with elements of tonal values, lines & scale. The sequence varies, but it still shows the concentration area of the draw and the circular ability of it to hold the viewer in the frame while being able to still move about the scene. Good stuff, imo.

Also, there
...Show more

Rusty, this is just what I wanted to read. I was a project engineer for the last half of my career, so planning is as much influence as the technical part. That said, I want to avoid a purely mechanical approach to photography.

The camera and its operation are very technical, so I try to learn as much technique as possible here. So I allow composition to be more intuitive and emotional to sort of balance things. I allow my gut feelings to choose what to include and then get all technical in the shooting part. But I usually take enough variations to allows some choices at home.

I have been doing all prime lenses for the last year which also places some limits. I want to add a zoom in the 24-70 range for more framing choices.

Analysis after the fact is a good learning thing for me, and I am getting quality stuff here.




Aug 11, 2012 at 07:47 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #11 · Composition by content and exclusion


Camperjim wrote:
Hey, Ben in spite of your frequent comments about not having much interest in composition, I have seen you work at it in the field and in discussions. I have come to prefer the term "design" since that helps to connote a positive effort and avoids the ugly "R" word.

Just a couple of quick comments. First you did a great job with your shadow. It is not an issue at all.

Next I prefer the second image. The leading lines of the fence and trees pull our attention into the scene. I am going to need to think about
...Show more

Jim this is a wonderful reply, and much appreciated.

I did that wheat field composite the other day and its one of my best images, but I can't print it. Not one of my framed prints today are even blends let alone composite. They are all single shots. I did not even think about it until I started considering printing it.

I guess my goal is to capture the image as clean as possible. I am not against spicing up my images a bit, but the fact is, my favorites require the least processing. I hope that explains my approach to how I take pictures.

My goal at this forum is to improve the capture and the processing with that goal in mind. My problem at other forums is that they seemed to be pushing a goal change rather than help me meet it.






Aug 11, 2012 at 07:54 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #12 · Composition by content and exclusion


Here are a couple crops.

The first was suggested by Sadja, The "close to the fence image with some sky cropped out.

The second is the low shot with some foreground and right side and sky cropped. This might have been the way I would have framed it with a zoom lens.

Rusty already showed a good crop.




Sadja crop

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/11.0    1/160s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






Tight crop of 2nd image

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/11.0    1/160s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Aug 11, 2012 at 10:39 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #13 · Composition by content and exclusion


Diggin' the last "tight crop of 2nd image" ... a vantage point to remember for the future return, imo.

Maybe a bit more on the right side of the frame on the re-shoot, but I like the foreground flowers, and the leading lines of both tree lines intersecting with the fence line ... everything (harmony) taking you "into" the frame.



Aug 12, 2012 at 11:00 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #14 · Composition by content and exclusion


Thanks Rusty, I store this sort of stuff mentally and try to apply it next visit. Of course next visit the sun will be further south, the grass will be dead and the trees will be red and gold if I my luck is good.


Aug 13, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #15 · Composition by content and exclusion


The tight crop of 2nd image is working better. Its the best of the lot. Although keep in mind that some scenes just do not work well in a wide angle view when viewed small on a monitor since a lot of detail is lost. Even so I think with this scene, although the wide angle view was temping (as always) I would have gone with a more telephoto view to get more depth percepcion, focusing on the fence and flowers.


Aug 13, 2012 at 01:28 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #16 · Composition by content and exclusion


You are right about losing something vital when viewing small. These images all have a different feel on a 26 inch monitor. The flowers have a lot more detail for example.

I have a 24-70 on order, but this is a new lens and not shipping yet. For this shot, I could have added a 1.4X to my 24TSE, and retained the tilt feature to keep those flowers in focus without losing the trees. I should have done that.

My next regular prime was a 35 then a 50. Both would have been hard pressed to get it all sharp without focus stacking. I will probably need to resort to that when I get the zoom lens.

Focus stacking only works with perfectly still air. Not the same as a burst for exposure brackets that take a couple seconds. Focus stacking requires very careful focus adjustment between shots without moving the camera.



Aug 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #17 · Composition by content and exclusion


I love the 24 TSE and use it a lot. You could have gotten down and dirty closer to the ground and the fence with the 24 so as to make the flowers larger in the frame while still showing the fence in perspective and the trees in the back.


Aug 13, 2012 at 04:59 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #18 · Composition by content and exclusion


Well I was already as low as I bend. Less than 2 feet. I need a remote viewer to get any lower. My head does not bend enough to view any of the camera controls. But to get as narrow a view as this crop would have required a longer FL. The 24TSE with a 1.4x is still plenty sharp.


Aug 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM





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