Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reviewing Composition and Inspiration

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! W-w-w-w-welcome to our review of composition and inspiration.

Today’s review of these things will show how they can work together, as well as refresh us on the topic.

Let’s start with some of the basics of composition. Remember the rule of thirds? Well, there are other guidelines, like the Golden Triangle, and Golden Mean, or Spiral. When we look at 35mm film, and most of our digital sensors, we find that they are 1.5 to 1 in their aspect ratio. The golden Ratio is 1.618 to 1. The dimensions of 35mm are 36mmx24mm. Oskar Barnack of Leitz chose this. By doubling the size of 24mmx18mm motion picture film, he created 35mm film as we know it. Using his film, Leitz created a camera to use it, but production didn’t begin until around 1924. Thus was born the Leica, Leitz Camera. Since his creation of the format for photography, the dimensions have been standard.

By splitting each dimension into thirds, and using those junctions as focal points for your center of interest, you can create nice compositions. This is the rule of thirds. By taking a line from one corner of the frame toward the center, and another extending from corner to corner, you create 3 triangles and can use those to position your center of interest. You can also use them to give weight to your primary subject. By following these rules to a certain point, composing your image becomes a visual exercise in balance, detail, and subject weight. It also allows your to create some interesting photos that will impress even the most die hard see and snapper. These rules are not set in stone, in fact, they are quite flexible. For instance, when shooting something that has converging parallels, it may be best to center the parallels at the bottom center and have them run straight through the frame. The secret to breaking the rules and being successful is knowing why it worked and why you did it.

Some other tips for your composition include not making your horizon centered in your image. It makes for a static scene. Diagonals make a scene dynamic, while curves add grace and elegance. Straight lines across or from top to bottom are very static, having almost no “flow.” Circles are a great tool to lead the viewer into and through the image. Remember that leading lines don’t have to be lines or shapes, but the feeling or implication of lines or shapes. They lead your viewer through your scene, and increase interest in your subject.

Now on to inspiration. What inspires you? What is your muse, your source, the wellspring from which you draw photographic inspiration? Almost all of us are inspired by more than 1 thing. There are times my daughter is my muse, and others; it may be a shaft of light or my wife. I find inspiration in the strangest places and often at strange times.

You don’t have to go looking for inspiration, either. It often strikes unexpectedly. Reading a blog post the other day, I found myself hit by the desire to try something similar to what the author had done. When you get an inspiration for a shot, start out visualizing your composition and lighting. By visualizing those 2 things, you can get a stronger image that will hold the viewer longer. By being open to inspiration, you can get more shots that you like. Take the time to look around you, not for inspiration, but to see the light, the colors, the textures, and the patterns. Seeing them may start the cogs turning toward something that inspires you. Often just looking at something my daughter has inspires a shot of her using it! Her checked coat may make me want to catch the pattern in some way that it brings out a feature of her. Don’t look for inspiration in trying to put others down, but look for it in things that make you feel good, and you’ll usually find it without looking too hard.

For both of today’s review subjects, you can find a wealth of information, and inspiration, on the net. Check out our links and you’ll be surprised at what you find. Look at the Your Works section, and check out the works of our followers, you’ll find something there that appeals to you!

After our 2 posts reviewing some of the basics, you should be ready to get some shots for this week’s theme, Solitude. Look around and find something that inspires your creativity, and visualize your light and composition. Knowing what you want to show, you can get your exposure right, and have a great shot. I hope you’ll be posting yours this week, and get your vote tallied for next week’s theme!

Don’t forget to post any of your images you’d like to see here at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

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