Friday, August 13, 2010

Resting - Breaking Down Your Composition

At 5:00 am the mosquitoes are hungry. They've been fluttering around all night with no people to snack on, and with sunrise coming, they know they don't have much time left to feed. They attack like they're invading Normandy; wave after wave, with no end in sight, but if you can withstand the onslaught for an hour, the sun will be up and the bugs will have high tailed it to their day time hiding place, surely in the bowels of hell somewhere.

I park my truck on top of the hill near the gate of the cemetery where I'm going to shoot this morning. The old gnarled trees, the rusted wrought iron fence, and the lichen covered stones are all silhouetted against a dark blue sky. I gather my equipment and press my truck door quietly shut as if I slam it and make too much noise the cerulean blind will go rolling up uncontrollably, dragging the sun with it, and ruining my morning of shooting.

©2010 Scott Bulger, All Rights Reserved
ISO 100 ----- 60mm ----- f2.8 ----- 1/2

Oftentimes, when composing an image, I'll back the focus off of my image to verify my composition.

"What are you talking about Scott?" you ask. "How do you verify your composition by making it OUT of focus?"

The first element of the composition is always the shapes involved and their relationship to each other. The easiest way to assure that you aren't being duped is to eliminate the distractions, and reduce your viewfinder to it's simplest components. Understand the primary shapes involved; cubes, cuboids, spheres, cones, cylinders, and their 2 dimensional counterparts; squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles. Understand how they interact with each other and their place in the frame.

The second element of the composition that you need to understand is the color palette and how it works in your image. If you work in black and white like I do, you also need to understand how those colors that you are seeing are going to translate to black and white.

See what I mean? This is not a trick. The second Red/Green image is simply the first Red/Green image converted to grayscale. If you are shooting film, and don't account for this with the proper filtration at the time of shooting, you are going to be pretty much stuck. If you are shooting digitally, you'll have options, but in order to pre-visualize your image, you are going to need to recognize the issue and determine how you are going to handle it when the time comes.

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