View Poll Results: Does composition matter anymore?

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  • Yes, I'd take the efforts to ensure I have both sound technical basics and composition.

    341 82.77%
  • Nah, photography is an art, those who can't understand my pictures aren't artistic.

    42 10.19%
  • What is composition?

    6 1.46%
  • I rather hang out with my friends/buddies, taking pictures is just a by-product.

    8 1.94%
  • Other (please comment)

    15 3.64%
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Thread: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

  1. #101

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    night86mare and icebox really very free during school holidays hor?


    no leh, not free.. singapore got so many places to shoot.

    actually i think taurean has brought up a very interseting point with regards to composition. how is burst mode applicable to composition, when it is applied blindly? it is a different thing if you are trying to predict when an opportunate moment is captured.. but firing away in the hopes of getting something good is a surefire way..








    of getting a 0.00000001% success rate.

  2. #102
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    i concur with most of your thoughts. and on top of that, my opinion is that each of us just need to take care of what we treasure in our own photos, rather than to get too upset about others. i got my nice chicken wings, i like it, people like it and they sell, and it is all that matters for there should be a reason why so many people like that chicken wing and i myself know why my chicken wings are nice.

    i have filled up none of the poll option becos none fits me. the photos of cos matters to me, and thus i think composition is important, but what is sound technical basics and composition? i do think that certain things are important, but not absolute and fixated in one form. there is no single pretty women with only 1 kind of face. i generally know what types of faces are regarded as pretty with limited subjectivity, and yet i cannot define within criteria. there are pretty small eyes and pretty big eyes, pretty fair skin and pretty dark skin.

    there is basis in many things as nature has granted, but it is too difficult to be defined by anyone, let alone imposed on others. i have many times commented a lot of good and not so good works, but i'm little bothered by the response. it is my opinions and i'm just sharing. i dun get upset if it is disagreed upon, as long as personal attacks is not involved. and personally i think we should not be too bothered abt how others eventually see their approach, becos afterall it is not healthy and lead to conflicts which i think can all be avoided.

    there are pictures which serves a different purposes, and they honestly are not considered as photography, but i do respect their presence and do not judge against people who shows photos not for the photographic merit, not unless they do one thing and think otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    This is a rather strong claim. Can you look into the mind of such people? Maybe your idea of composition just differs from theirs?

    Analysing composition is mainly an aid to sort out and rationalise your own feelings about a picture. Your own analysis is not absolute. You cannot impose it on others. When it comes to the point that someone is taken to task for ignoring any perceived rules, something is wrong.

    How do you know that such feedback is ignored? Opinions, even differing opinions, can be registered and valued without the need for "followup action" (beyond maybe a simple "thank you"). Do you expect people to hastily edit/change their pictures to satisfy the whims and fancies of critics (and let others dictate what their pictures look like)? That would be utterly disrespectful -
    again, for the below, i subscribed to a more light hearted environment. i think it is fine for the enhanced versions to be put in the thread, just for sharing purposes. it is like taking out a red shoe, a blue shoe and a yellow shoe after the silver shoe is shown, so more variations can be seen. snobbish mentality is a greater and true problem, rather than subjective issues of respect. let's not think too much into it and the world will be a happier one.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    only to be topped by those "helpful" individuals who, unasked, take the picture and post photoshopped versions back into the thread.
    Last edited by zoossh; 6th July 2008 at 11:33 AM.

  3. #103
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by yehosaphat View Post
    Of cos it does! Of cos you can try taking the whole scene and try to crop your pics to get your composition right but then again... you are a photographer not a PS editor!
    and anyway cropping only changes the field of view and the apparent size while composition is more than that. that is why i always find cropping of little use.

  4. #104
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    This is by far better than comments like "your horizon is tilted" or "the subject is centered" which only focus on following rules for the sake of following rules, regardless whether they help the picture or not.
    that is a little too quick to judge. such specific comments, of cos from case to case basis, may not be for the sake of following rules but becos they really do help the picture.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    I think most photos have virtues beyond the orientation of the horizon. To reduce a critique to "horizon slanted. end of story" is IMHO a bit simplistic.
    that may be becos there is no other major issues for the picture, or that it is the major issue for the picture.
    Last edited by zoossh; 5th July 2008 at 01:35 AM.

  5. #105
    Senior Member redstone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    My view is that if your photo has a perfect composition, but with no "feeling", its useless.

  6. #106

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    I only understand taking photos makes me want to go out there and shoot - a break from work and a hobby of relaxation (although sometimes going into the wild requires some physical energy). It takes me one more step closer to nature. Photos taken as memories of my surrounding and Singapore in time to come when i look back as i age. I started triggerhappy with my very first Pns. As time goes by my prosumer takes decreases as i know what i want and expected of in most situation what the output photo will be like. My first hands-on with a DSLR takes me away from the prosumer ways when i have to judge how the photo 's exposure will be like without live view. Go into burst mode especially dealing with wildlife sentient beings that have a mind of their own, or fast paced action sports.

    In the digital age a camera is not limited for the use in the hands of a photographer. Its for everyone. There are basics and academic levels to composition i believe but i am not bounded by that. Photos are memories to me. It don't matter if the composition is way off. Just take things and comments light heartedly. Life is short, shoot hard.

  7. #107
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    As the saying goes, Garbage in, garbage out...

  8. #108
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by redstone View Post
    My view is that if your photo has a perfect composition, but with no "feeling", its useless.
    is there even such a thing called Perfect Composition ?

  9. #109

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    hi, i think it a reality. photography moves with time and i compare photography with movie making. those who does composition would probably come from the film era or has tried film photography.
    look at the old movies, how were they shot. look at the modern movies. the style of cinematography has changed. take for example "Cloverfield" the entire movie was based on the playback of a movie camera. how many ppl accepted this kind of movie?
    with digital format, new learners does not understand how to utilise each shot effectively. they just shoot and check later. it's not in the mind set whereas during the film age, there were being resticted by the film processing cost.
    all in all, composition is one of the important component in photography. i think it's being taught in photography class or in books.

  10. #110
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by All Blue View Post
    hi, i think it a reality. photography moves with time and i compare photography with movie making. those who does composition would probably come from the film era or has tried film photography.
    look at the old movies, how were they shot. look at the modern movies. the style of cinematography has changed. take for example "Cloverfield" the entire movie was based on the playback of a movie camera. how many ppl accepted this kind of movie?
    with digital format, new learners does not understand how to utilise each shot effectively. they just shoot and check later. it's not in the mind set whereas during the film age, there were being resticted by the film processing cost.
    all in all, composition is one of the important component in photography. i think it's being taught in photography class or in books.
    i dun think there is a significant difference in composition due to the media used. whether you shoot once on a film, or three times on a digital before getting the composition right, the composition is the same, except one is more disciplined and more efficient in its approach.

    if one say that the liberty of using digital with less restriction in storage, and that one may experiment more with composition and get more creative beyond the old school of teaching, that also does not mean composition is not important. defying classical teaching about composition does not mean that one does not care abt it. new attempts/techniques open up new insights.
    Last edited by zoossh; 28th September 2008 at 01:22 AM.

  11. #111

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by zoossh View Post
    i dun think there is a significant difference in composition due to the media used. whether you shoot once on a film, or three times on a digital before getting the composition right, the composition is the same, except one is more disciplined and more efficient in its approach.

    if one say that the liberty of using digital with less restriction in storage, and that one may experiment more with composition and get more creative beyond the old school of teaching, that also does not mean composition is not important.
    i cannot disagree here.

    i mean, certainly a disciplined/efficient approach is going to have its advantages, but perhaps when one is new being haphazard, while actively learning is better. while trying to anticipate the moment for a one shot one kill shutter press.. you might miss it. that is not to say that one should just do that his whole life.. it would be a severe waste of shutter count. but in the end, it is all the end result we see - does it matter if i took 100 shots and only kept this one? or if i did a one shot one kill? i don't think it matters to viewers. but it might matter to the photographer himself.

    but yes, composition is no less important, and i cannot imagine anyone who would say otherwise.

  12. #112

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    to me, although i'm new to this dslr business...i do find that composition is very very important. it makes the picture. without composition, i felt that the picture will lose impact, more so than the impact from the use of colors(or lack thereof) or textures...IMHO.
    as for technical competencies...its not a be all end all kinda thing...prolly dats y digital cameras are so darn easy to use. just point, focus, compose and shoot.
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  13. #113

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    IMHO what gives composition a bad name is the suggestion that there rules in composition. What determines composition is the purpose - the intent of the photographer. Nonetheless, awareness of what you want should generally come before you make compositional decisions. The proliferation of digital cameras abuses this aspect by making it easy for one to just simply raise their camera and shoot off without thinking - if they are unhappy with the results, just delete and try again until they got it 'right'.

  14. #114
    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Genie In A Lightbox View Post
    IMHO what gives composition a bad name is the suggestion that there rules in composition. What determines composition is the purpose - the intent of the photographer. Nonetheless, awareness of what you want should generally come before you make compositional decisions. The proliferation of digital cameras abuses this aspect by making it easy for one to just simply raise their camera and shoot off without thinking - if they are unhappy with the results, just delete and try again until they got it 'right'.
    Respectfully disagree with your argument here.
    There are certainly some general principles involved in composition, though I would say these shouldn't be rigidly categorised as "rules." and the connotation they carry.

    Concepts like filling the frame, subject placement, visual weight, dividing the frame, contrast, balance etc. all invariably are connected to the dynamic role of the frame in composition. Unless the photographer is somehow conscious of or has these these general concepts ingrained, it is difficult to have conceive a purpose much less intent.

    And even if there is an intent, how is it to be translated into an actual photograph? To give an example, if a photographer's intent is to do a still life of vegetables in a rustic setting, how is it to be executed? Having a purpose alone is not nearly enough.

    Photography is a process of selection from real scene and events. Potential pictures exist in the frame everytime we pick up the camera to our eyes. I actually see no problem at all for people to shoot a lot and delete a lot per se. If they were vaguely conscious of some of the concepts relating to composition, they probably will be getting more keepers and who knows, might not need to shoot aimlessly without thinking.

  15. #115

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by zoossh View Post
    and anyway cropping only changes the field of view and the apparent size while composition is more than that. that is why i always find cropping of little use.
    Uh.. doesn't cropping change the composition of the picture? Removing a portion of the picture surely changes its composition somewhat, no? I think a well cropped derivative can look better than the original.

  16. #116
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by littlewild View Post
    Uh.. doesn't cropping change the composition of the picture? Removing a portion of the picture surely changes its composition somewhat, no? I think a well cropped derivative can look better than the original.
    yes, but i mean composition is much much more than cropping, e.g. if you shoot from the bottom of a face, you cannot change to shooting from the top, just by cropping, rite? in my opinion, if a good rough estimate is done in capture, cropping or not on processing usually does little or no improvement. alternatively, if poor estimate is done in capture, and if there is too much empty space or if there is insufficient space around the important subjects, cropping either in the first case significantly decrease the digital quality due to the need to blow up after too much space being cropped off or in the 2nd case, still leave a bad composition. cropping thus only becomes helpful in high resolution takes and if there is sufficient good spaces.
    Last edited by zoossh; 24th October 2008 at 10:59 AM.

  17. #117

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    Respectfully disagree with your argument here.
    There are certainly some general principles involved in composition, though I would say these shouldn't be rigidly categorised as "rules." and the connotation they carry.

    Concepts like filling the frame, subject placement, visual weight, dividing the frame, contrast, balance etc. all invariably are connected to the dynamic role of the frame in composition. Unless the photographer is somehow conscious of or has these these general concepts ingrained, it is difficult to have conceive a purpose much less intent.

    And even if there is an intent, how is it to be translated into an actual photograph? To give an example, if a photographer's intent is to do a still life of vegetables in a rustic setting, how is it to be executed? Having a purpose alone is not nearly enough.

    Photography is a process of selection from real scene and events. Potential pictures exist in the frame everytime we pick up the camera to our eyes. I actually see no problem at all for people to shoot a lot and delete a lot per se. If they were vaguely conscious of some of the concepts relating to composition, they probably will be getting more keepers and who knows, might not need to shoot aimlessly without thinking.
    I think it really comes down to what the picture is about and what it means to the person who views it. Every self proclaimed photographer knows the basic rule of thirds, golden section, and lines/diagonal composition "principles", but a photograph which adheres to all the composition "principles" may not be a good photograph simply because it means nothing to the viewer.

    We see well composed pictures every day from the books and magazines yet seldom you feel that the picture connect with you. It's like putting professionally composed female fashion magazine cover against the silly looking, ill composed mugshot of your girlfriend (taken by your girlfriend herself, of course) that you put in your wallet. I am sure most people will find that the girlfriend picture more meaningful to them, I hope.

    Having said the above, there is also the other extreme, absolutely horrible composition. Imagine a shot where the subject is totally misplaced at one tiny corner of the picture or blown way out of proportion with terrible contrast. Not many people will enjoy looking at this type of picture as well.

    So ultimately, I think that having good composition and meaning is not a zero sum game. What every photographer wants is to snap that perfectly composed shot while successfully capturing the essence of the moment and thereby making the picture connect with those who view it. You don't have to give up composition principle in order to have a meaningful picture and vice versa.

  18. #118

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    So while it seems everyone agrees that composition is very important, that the "rules" are there to be followed and then broken, it still does not get away from comments that follow a trend of...

    "You forget to edit the pimple on her nose", or,

    "Wah, bad acne, need to PS bro"

    And therefore criticise the editing skills of the photographer rather than the photo itself. I think the question "does composition matter?" is a valid one in light of the place of importance PP has taken in the art of photography. And while I admit to being divided on how much is too much, and where and even if there should be a line, there is something inherently simplistic and beautiful about the minimal edits to a well framed shot that is not present in the copped, rotated, brightened, vibrancy enhanced clones.

    I guess for me its a little like seeing a well dressed woman, looking classy with a touch of makeup and the over-done, make-up caked impostor. One you fall in love with, the other makes you want to laugh at best, or be sick at worst. So composition does matter if you want to go from taking one good shot in 100 (if lucky) to something better, and PP has its place, when subtly done, but a bad photo is a holiday snapshot and that's all it will ever be.
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  19. #119

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Composition is like riding a bicycle, once you've got it, it'll stay with you. But there's always the learning process, in which one would need to understand how aesthetics apply - notice how people with training in fine arts and architecture almost always nail the aesthetics, even when they're breaking the rules.

    But of course, if you go around toting a $10,000 camera expecting it to take a great photo for you on the merit of equipment sophistication, then that wouldn't get you very far would it?

  20. #120

    Default Re: Does Composition Matter Anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by littlewild View Post
    I think it really comes down to what the picture is about and what it means to the person who views it. Every self proclaimed photographer knows the basic rule of thirds, golden section, and lines/diagonal composition "principles", but a photograph which adheres to all the composition "principles" may not be a good photograph simply because it means nothing to the viewer.

    We see well composed pictures every day from the books and magazines yet seldom you feel that the picture connect with you. It's like putting professionally composed female fashion magazine cover against the silly looking, ill composed mugshot of your girlfriend (taken by your girlfriend herself, of course) that you put in your wallet. I am sure most people will find that the girlfriend picture more meaningful to them, I hope.

    Having said the above, there is also the other extreme, absolutely horrible composition. Imagine a shot where the subject is totally misplaced at one tiny corner of the picture or blown way out of proportion with terrible contrast. Not many people will enjoy looking at this type of picture as well.

    So ultimately, I think that having good composition and meaning is not a zero sum game. What every photographer wants is to snap that perfectly composed shot while successfully capturing the essence of the moment and thereby making the picture connect with those who view it. You don't have to give up composition principle in order to have a meaningful picture and vice versa.
    I share the same thoughts as you. To add on to my previous post, I need to reinterate my point on what determines composition is the purpose - the intent of the photographer. If for any personal reasons, the photographer decides to place the subject near the edge of the photo i.e. acutely aware why he does so versus the so-called "rules" we're all rottenly familiar with (in fact, any Tom, Dick and Harry can rattle off 1/3 placement, balance, contrast etc by reading books), we should not see it as a badly composed photo just because we will not do the same thing. As for this aspect, Ansel Adams once said, "A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.". Sometimes we may need to be slow to critic and put ourselves into the shoes of the photographer. To be fair, the photographer may sometimes have to give captions for photos that are taken "unconventionally". To this Henri Cartier-Bresson says, "The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality."

    There's one more thing Ansel Adams put it across beautifully regarding the intention of the photographer before one presses the shutter: "It is my intention to present - through the medium of photography - intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators." Sometimes I feel there must something innate in the photographer i.e. emotional baggage / life experiences to shoot/react the way he/she does at that instant and Ernst Haas has a philosophical way of putting this across. He says, "A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?"

    Does composition really matters? Who's right or wrong doesn't matter to me. Winning or losing an argument here in this forum will not change the way I shoot at the very least. Nor does it change the whole ball game altogether. Sometimes, the too-quick negative critics we give to the works of others is just another door shut on the creativity of photography. I agree with Ansel Adams that "photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art."
    Last edited by Genie In A Lightbox; 24th October 2008 at 12:22 PM.

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