Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Day four solution: Dirtying up the frame, part of 5-Day Photo Challenge: Composition.
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- Okay, here's the day four conclusion. This was the dirty composition exercise where you're supposed to be dirtying up the front of the frame with something that normally you would think to leave out. Hopefully you had an easier time of it than I did. Honestly I don't, I think I bombed this challenge here. I'm shooting these flowers in this greenhouse. I was not limiting myself to flowers, I was trying to find anything to shoot, but these orchids are really the thing here. And it's tough, it's tough to find a foreground element that serves a compositional purpose.
It's difficult finding a thing that isn't just distracting. And so I worked to try and arrange the flowers within the frame in a particular way, as you can see. Trying to fill the frame with lots of flowers, having some of them be in the foreground, some background, and the mid-ground being in focus. I switched to my 75 to 300 equivalent, because that was making it easier to compress the depth. Orchids don't grow real thick, so I had a lot of empty space to deal with. So I was using my telephoto lens to compress the depth.
That was also giving me effectively shallower depth of field and that was allowing me to blur the foreground more and less. And I found that changing up aperture was very important. There are times when you don't want that foreground dirtying element to be too smeary, so when you think, oh, I went shallow depth of field, very often we just crank that aperture open all the way. In an exercise like this it's good to vary it to control the amount of blur. So I got all of these. And another thing I was finding difficult is just I'd get a shot that I think was going to work and there'd be a pole or something that I couldn't find a way of composing around and that's just very often how it is when you're shooting vegetation.
Still I hope you can, hopefully you had an easier time and I hope you can see the value of this. That composition is not always clean and tidy, and good composition is often full and busy, but with every element serving a purpose. Some of those purposes, some of those elements can be in the foreground and they can still serve a purpose there even when your subject is behind. So here's the image that I chose and I'm very curious to see yours.
Make sure to share your results with Ben and other fellow photographers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #5DayPhoto.