A while back I said I’d report on my progress from time to time. It’s part of my attempt to be more aware of the state of my photography and where I want to take it. Now if I can only remember what they were. Oh right, here they are –
1. Improve composition; read a book or two, podcasts, tutorials, essays etc.
2. Strive for more distinctive images
3. Maintain post-processing workflow discipline
Hm. Will you look at that.
Yes I have read a few articles that deal with composition, but I haven’t done anything really serious about it. No books have been bought. Mostly because I’m still not working full time and what with the internet being free and all… But I am on the trail of a full time job and when that lands (positive thinking all around!) I will buy a book or two. That being said, I have been more conscious of the rules of composition when I’m out in the field. Hardly ever in the past did I deliberately think about composition in my head. It’s always been very gut-level for me. I walk around, frame, pace, line up, but never do I recite mantras to myself. Now I sort of do. One I keep in mind is relationships…creating relationships between objects in my image. Here’s one –
In this one I deliberately set opposing geometries together. Vertical aspect, horizontal wall in foreground, vertical trees in background, that first horizontal row of nearly square headstones, going from short to tall, the tall monument on the left reinforcing the vertical nature of the shot. All sort of clashes, but also flows really well. I did it deliberately. Oh sure I tried other compositions, but none worked so well. I even left out the rather terrific gate because it broke up the flow too drastically. It blocked the flow. Out it went.
On to the next one. Have I striven for distinctive images? Yes and no. In my mind, this means shooting a more typical view in a different way. Lately I haven’t been presented with much that’s typical so my images remain my own take on the world I see. The only one that approaches anything near this is this shot of Mt. Monadnock –
No, it isn’t that great a photograph. The view to the mountain was difficult and narrow. I had to climb on the top of an escarpment to get clear of the trees in the immediate foreground. The lighting wasn’t particularly helpful either, so I decided to try to make the mountain look small by using a lot of sky. If they sky hadn’t been interesting, I wouldn’t have, but I think as a snapshot, this works. Are there other shots of mountains taken this way, I’m sure there are, but most people wouldn’t even try I don’t think. Maybe I’m foolish to have, but I think even a snapshotty image adds to the impression of a place.
And how is my post-processing work-flow these days? Pretty good actually. Using specific folders, tags, labels, ratings and keywords has made it much easier to find stuff even though I haven’t shot much yet. So far, so good.
So there you have it. An update. Crossing my fingers that the weather cooperates for one last major winter shoot this weekend. I’ll be trying to manage #1 and 2 more fully and hopefully #3 will be habit by now and will fall into place automatically.
i always like graveyard shots … and yours is beautiful.
but i like the mountain shot, too. all that sky makes it feel vast, and open.
Like the graveyard shot. Something about snow covered graves that imbues a sense of calm serenity but also loneliness and solitude. There is a graveyard near where I love that looks amazing under snow (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevie_gill/sets/72157600047295756/),though I don’t think the photos I took at the time do it justice.
Anyway, if you looking for a book on composition I can highly recommend Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye (you can find it on Amazon). He’s very good are articulating what makes a good composition and breaking this down into its key elements (eg graphic elements, proportion, colour/tones, light and intention). However, he avoids the dogmatic and strongly encourages the reader to think for themselves, rather than shoving his own style down your throat. Some nice photos to look at too.
thanks so much. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds cemeteries soothing.