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When the scene doesn't fit in the frame

From: Foundations of Photography: Composition

Video: When the scene doesn't fit in the frame

As sometimes happens in life, I find myself in a forest full of old car doors. And as usually happens when that sort of thing transpires, I think, boy, photo opp! I look out here at this scene and it just seems like boy, this is such a picture waiting to happen. It's all of these rusted-out car doors, and they're all old car doors. Whoever has done this has this weird fetish for old car doors and plainly has been ripping them off from cars and heaping them out here in great rows. And it's nice.

When the scene doesn't fit in the frame

As sometimes happens in life, I find myself in a forest full of old car doors. And as usually happens when that sort of thing transpires, I think, boy, photo opp! I look out here at this scene and it just seems like boy, this is such a picture waiting to happen. It's all of these rusted-out car doors, and they're all old car doors. Whoever has done this has this weird fetish for old car doors and plainly has been ripping them off from cars and heaping them out here in great rows. And it's nice.

There is all this repetition. There is all this cool rusted texture. This is just seemingly a gold mine of photographic opportunity. If I'm into details, it is. I have been prowling around here, working the details of these scenes, working the repetition, working the shattered glass, trying to find interesting textures. When the sun comes out--and we have got clouds rolling through pretty quick here. So a lot of time it's in shade-- when the sun comes out, I have got cool glints off of chrome and that sort of thing. So there's a lot of detail here that's very interesting. What I'm having trouble with is some kind of big shot of the whole thing.

To a degree, these detail shots are pretty abstract. It's difficult to really get too much of an idea of what's going on. It's difficult to get the complete weirdness of a bunch of old car doors out in the middle of nowhere in the country. So I keep thinking, yeah, there's some great picture here that's going to take it all in, and I can't find it. I can go wide, but it just looks like junk. I also got the problem of car doors are metal urban textures, and I have got all these trees going around, and so there's just a lot of leafy garbage around.

It's difficult to really get a clean shot. It's difficult to simplify. It's difficult to find a shot that's really balanced because trees are really tall and they're going out of the frame. I am just having difficulty finding it. As I prowl around some more and look at it from different angles and I am working my shot and I am seeing, well, if I come back too far, it just turns into this kind of noisy texture. If I get up real close, details look nice, but I lose the overall picture. So I am starting to realize my problem here is I don't have a subject. As fascinating as this is, it's not fascinating enough to hold down the image.

I need a subject of some kind. A lot of times when I get into a situation like this, I think, what I need is a rock band, because they could stand here and look tough and look ironic and things like this and this would be a great background, and I just don't have one with me. So I am left with a background with no subject. If I had a friend with me, I could put them in front of it, and probably get a cool portrait. But as far as this being a scene unto itself, I don't think I'm missing anything here. I think it's just not interesting enough. As fascinating as it is to be standing here, I don't think it's interesting enough to carry a photo.

Remember, photos are abstractions. The viewer doesn't get the full experience of being out here and experiencing just how weird it is to have cows walking by a bunch of old car doors. So if you find yourself in a situation like this where you think, ah! This is so obviously a photo, and you can't find it, very often, it's because a scene that seems so obviously a photo is really a photo background and you need a subject. Again, if you've got a friend with you, put them in the shot. If you can find an element that's simple enough that can serve as an anchor, then you can do that; otherwise, I am afraid you just have to enjoy yourself and let go of the image.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Composition
Foundations of Photography: Composition

86 video lessons · 55642 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 12m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Using this course
      7m 27s
    3. What you need to know
      2m 50s
  2. 2m 47s
    1. What is composition?
      2m 1s
    2. All form, all the time
      46s
  3. 12m 34s
    1. How your camera is not like your eye
      2m 52s
    2. Looking vs. seeing
      2m 25s
    3. Vision and attention
      2m 13s
    4. Dynamic range
      1m 59s
    5. Seeing exercises
      3m 5s
  4. 36m 48s
    1. What all good compositions have
      1m 8s
    2. Subject and background
      3m 5s
    3. Balance
      7m 20s
    4. Point of view
      3m 22s
    5. Simplicity
      2m 59s
    6. Finding and capturing a good photo
      2m 11s
    7. Working the shot: Why one is never enough
      6m 41s
    8. Practicing
      3m 24s
    9. Why black and white?
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Practicing the fundamentals with points
      4m 17s
  5. 41m 48s
    1. Lines
      7m 7s
    2. Analyzing lines
      6m 35s
    3. Exploring a town
      4m 7s
    4. The Franklin Hotel
      2m 7s
    5. Shapes
      10m 13s
    6. Repetition: Arranging the elements
      1m 37s
    7. Rule of threes
      1m 36s
    8. Perspective
      1m 47s
    9. Symmetry
      1m 10s
    10. Focal length, camera position, and depth
      2m 27s
    11. Intersections
      1m 41s
    12. Exercise: Practicing fundamentals with geometry
      1m 21s
  6. 10m 38s
    1. Working a shot, revisited
      3m 21s
    2. Understanding the photographic impulse
      2m 58s
    3. Warming up
      2m 16s
    4. Exercise: Get your feet moving
      2m 3s
  7. 35m 7s
    1. Thirds: How rectangular frames are weighted
      2m 20s
    2. Tonal balance
      3m 52s
    3. Content balance
      1m 20s
    4. Squares: Weighting the corners
      2m 24s
    5. Composing people
      3m 42s
    6. Composing landscapes
      3m 53s
    7. Sometimes you can't get the shot
      1m 12s
    8. Practicing thirds with points and geometry
      1m 45s
    9. Practicing squares with points and geometry
      1m 12s
    10. Image analysis: The work of Steve Simon
      13m 27s
  8. 19m 6s
    1. It's the light
      1m 50s
    2. Direction of light
      8m 30s
    3. Texture
      2m 7s
    4. Shadows and negative space
      1m 19s
    5. Exposure concerns
      2m 44s
    6. Keeping one eye on post
      58s
    7. Light as subject
      1m 38s
  9. 18m 59s
    1. Introducing the workshop location and instructors
      1m 2s
    2. Assignment: Finding light
      5m 17s
    3. Shooting the light
      3m 14s
    4. Critiquing the light assignment
      9m 26s
  10. 22m 11s
    1. The basics of color
      1m 4s
    2. When to shoot color
      3m 56s
    3. How to shoot color
      2m 47s
    4. Practicing color composition
      1m 4s
    5. Image analysis: The work of Paul Taggart
      13m 20s
  11. 16m 48s
    1. Entry and exit
      5m 41s
    2. Framing
      2m 17s
    3. Examining the composition of this set
      2m 28s
    4. Narrative
      1m 55s
    5. When the scene doesn't fit in the frame
      3m 13s
    6. Guiding the viewer's eye
      1m 14s
  12. 13m 36s
    1. Assignment: Foreground and background
      3m 4s
    2. Shooting foreground and background relationships
      2m 19s
    3. Critiquing the foreground and background assignment
      8m 13s
  13. 34m 24s
    1. Planes
      5m 13s
    2. Controlling depth
      4m 54s
    3. Juxtaposition
      2m 58s
    4. Fear
      4m 3s
    5. Layers
      55s
    6. Image analysis: The work of Connie Imboden
      16m 21s
  14. 41m 21s
    1. Recomposing an image with the Crop tool
      7m 23s
    2. Resizing an image
      8m 9s
    3. Tone
      8m 54s
    4. Altering the perspective in Photoshop
      4m 38s
    5. Changing composition through retouching
      6m 16s
    6. Vignetting to drive attention
      6m 1s
  15. 10m 22s
    1. Workshop wrap-up and exhibition
      3m 13s
    2. Workshop students' final thoughts
      7m 9s
  16. 1m 0s
    1. Final thoughts
      1m 0s

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