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PHOTOGRAPH 7 is out. This issue showcases portfolios from David Baker (Sea Fever), Michelle Morris Denniston, Mitchell Kanashkevich (Vanuatu), and Dave Morrow (nightscapes). The featured article is from Bret Edge, and the usual columnists are here, including Bruce Percy’s Natural Light column including a new column by Guy Tal.

In my column Creative Composition I discuss Pattern.

Here’s an excerpt.

“Many of the mysteries of the universe have been discovered by recognizing and describing patterns. The Golden Section/Ratio (8:5), the Fibonacci Series (1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc), and the Mandelbrot Set (a shape characterized by repetitions of self-similar forms at all scales) are three examples of patterns that have been used for many different purposes – scientific, industrial, architectural, aesthetic, etc. Discover the type of repetition or change associated with a pattern and you too will unlock the key to understanding it – and possibly a universal principle.

People are pattern seeking / making animals. Even when patterns are absent, we experience them through our own projections. Making images is all about sensing and creating patterns. The same could be said of making any form of art – including life. Life itself follows patterns. You can make your images livelier by using the power of pattern; the clearer you make the pattern, the stronger the image. Increase your powers of pattern recognition and you’ll increase your visual versatility. Increase your sensitivity the unique qualities of each pattern as well as its differences from other patterns and you’ll increase the depth of your expression.

The modernist painter Josef Albers said, “A pattern is interesting. A pattern interrupted is more interesting.” Interrupting a pattern is a visual strategy that tends to produce strongly organized yet dramatic images. The pattern provides the organization. The interruption provides the drama. The pattern makes the images easily grasped, setting up expectations that are reversed by the interruption, like an unexpected plot twist in a story. An interesting distinction can be made between two different kinds of interruption; accents simply interrupt patterns; counterpoints not only interrupt patterns but they do so in ways that contrast with either the pattern or the main message of an image; both accents and counterpoints often become the new focus of the image.

Once you start seeing patterns you won’t be able to stop – and neither will anybody else. Understand the patterns you are naturally drawn to and you’ll better understand your visual voice and creative intentions – and if you make those patterns clear to others they will too. Because pattern is so powerful, it doesn’t take much; some artists have spent a lifetime exploring just one of these universal, organizing principles. Of course, you’re not limited to one pattern and there are so many to choose from. Simply use the power of pattern in your images and you’ll make your images more powerful.”

There’s more similar content in this and every issue of PHOTOGRAPH.

Download PHOTOGRAPH 7 here.

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Issue 4 of PHOTOGRAPH (quarterly add free emagazine) is now available.

It’s packed with Portfolios / Q+As (this time from Nick Hall, Kathy Beal, and Sam Krisch – two of whom are members of my Next Step Alumni) and columns / articles (including contributions by David duChemin, Martin Bailey, Michael Frye, Chris Orwig and more). My Creative Composition column focuses on using Space in compelling ways.

Purchase PHOTOGRAPH issue 4 for $8.

Subscribe to PHOTOGRAPH for $24 (save $8).

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How artists get there is just as important as where they arrive. My new ebook Process examines many aspects of my creative process – writing, drawing, painting, photography, Photoshop, iphoneography and more. Thirty-three chapters are organized into five sections – Color, Composition, Draw, iPhone, Write – showing how each discipline contributes to the completion of finished works of art.

This ebook reveals that an artist’s creations are produced by not one but many activities in many media and that the creative process is a never-ending journey of discovery that offers surprising insights along the way.

192 pages fully illustrated

$12.99

$9.99 for Insights enews members

(Email info@johnpaulcaponigro.com for discount code.)

Buy the PDF here

Download a free preview here.

Digital magazine PHOTOGRAPH Issue 3 is now available.

Articles are written by Martin Bailey, John Paul Caponigro, Kevin Clark, David DuChemin, Jay Goodrich, Chris Orwig, Al Smith, Piet Van Den Eynde, Nicole S Young.

In my column Creative Composition I cover the interactions of The Essential Building Blocks Of Composition (point, line, shape, plane, volume).

Portfolios and Q&As include Kevin Clark, Dave Delnea, and Hengki Koentjoro.

Koentjoro is one of my favorite photographers to follow on Google+.

Buy the PDF here for $8.

4 issue subscribers receive a 25% discount.

Learn more with my photography eBooks.

The four most important lines of any image are the ones that are often least recognized consciously – the frame. Second only to these are the lines that divide the frame, creating frames within the frame. Becoming more aware of how the frame can be used and how it can be divided will help you make more successful compositions.

There are many ways the frame can be divided. You can divide the frame horizontally, vertically, or diagonally; in each case the layers included define the virtual space presented. Different areas in an image can be divided differently. You can divide the frame (or a frame within the frame) multiple times; the more times the frame is divided the more packed and dynamic it becomes, progressively growing more design oriented and finally being reduced to pure texture. Each operation has significant consequences.

One of the most significant results of dividing the frame is the creation of specific proportions. (The combination of the individual aspect ratios of each element creates a new unified aspect ratio.) Much has been made of the ‘rule of thirds’. Dividing the frame into three parts (left/center/right or up/middle/down) is a simple and often useful strategy for making images more directed, by prioritizing one element over another, and dynamic, through imbalance. Too little has been made of other ratios. What of fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, or eighths? No musician would be content to only divide an octave into halves and thirds. Every proportion produces particular effects, which are further modified by placement (high/low or left/right) and content. Rather than a rule to be adhered to, proportion is a force to be explored expressively.

When it comes to controlling the division of the frame in your images, you have more options available to you than you might think. You can crop, retouch, distort, or composite. These four operations can be used in combination with one another. For instance, you may decide to first crop an image and then distort it to a standardized aspect ratio. Or, while maintaining a frame of the same aspect ratio, you might increase the scale of a selected area only and in the process crop a portion of it. Many other permutations are possible.

If you find these many new possibilities dizzying, you get it. The only way to understand this intuitively is to explore your options. The development of new possibilities encourages us to ask new questions and develop new habits. For what effect are you dividing the frame? To that end, how many different ways can you think of dividing the frame? My advice? Develop the habit of exploring your options before settling on final solutions, ones that help you create your strongest statements.

Read more at Digital Photo Pro.

See my related post Exploring The Expressive Possibilities Of Aspect Ratio.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

 

In this B&H Event Space seminar, David Brommer covers the basic concepts of composition as established by the masters of the Renaissance. Commencing with the classic rule of thirds and leaping into theories of color and balance, David touches upon a range of topics, including image construction, positive and negative space, as well as other advanced composition.

Find more B&H Event Space videos here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Distortions of the same image explore aspect ratio expressively

The proportion of an image’s frame is a fundamental part of its statement.

Unlike many documentary photographers who keep the proportion of their image frames constant to reduce their presence and suggest that their images haven’t been altered, I do the opposite for precisely the opposite reason, to more clearly highlight that my images have been altered by me. The question of whether an image has or has not been altered is a misleading question. Every image, whether documentary or artistic, has been altered, but to different degrees, in different ways, and for different reasons. Questions of method, extent, and intent are more revealing and interesting.

I use the proportion of the frame expressively. Because different proportions each add something different, I don’t standardize, I customize the proportions of my images. I distort the frame, crop the frame, and/or extend the frame through compositing and sometimes retouching, before settling on a final solution that creates the strongest statement.

How do you use aspect ratio in your images?

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Discover Huntington’s favorite quotes here.

Read Huntington’s short Q&A here.

Read our extended conversation here.

Find out more about Huntington Witherill here.

Huntington Witherill and I discuss the importance and uses of composition.

Discover Huntington’s favorite quotes here.

Read Huntington’s short Q&A here.

Read our extended conversation here.

Find out more about Huntington Witherill here.

Defocus

December 8, 2010 | 2 Comments |

It’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

We’re capable of seeing a lot of detail. Sometimes detail is distracting. Eliminating it can help us see fundamentals more clearly.

Here’s a quick way to make sure the foundations of your compositions are strong.

1    Frame an image.

2    Defocus the camera. Defocus enough to lose sight
of the details (line and texture) but not the broader com- position (light and dark, color, shape).

3    Refine the composition. Move the camera or zoom.

4 Refocus.

5 Expose.

Images that contain well-rendered detail without a solid compositional structure often appear cluttered and confusing. Develop the habit of slowing down and taking the time to make sure your compositions are as strong as they can be.

Find more online resources here.

Learn more in my digital photography workshops.


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