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Composition can make an interesting subject bland or make an ordinary subject appear beautiful. In this course, photographer and author Ben Long explores the concepts of composition, from basics such as the rule of thirds to more advanced topics such as the way the eye travels through a photo.
The course addresses how the camera differs from the eye and introduces composition fundamentals, such as balance and point of view. Ben also examines the importance of geometry, light, and color in composition, and looks at how composition can be improved with a variety of post-production techniques. Interspersed throughout the course are workshop sessions that capture the creative energy of a group of photography students; shooting assignments and exercises; and analyses of the work of photographers Paul Taggart and Connie Imboden.
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.
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