Composition - C&C Request

Started Jul 8, 2013 | Discussions
Teak
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Composition - C&C Request
Jul 8, 2013

Hello;

I am working on refining my composition skills. Below is a set of three shots that I call "Opposites Attract." It shows two box cars coupled together with wheels pointing in opposite direction. Which of three is the stronger composition. Thanks

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jbf
jbf
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Re: Composition - C&C Request
In reply to Teak, Jul 8, 2013

Teak wrote:

Hello;

I am working on refining my composition skills. Below is a set of three shots that I call "Opposites Attract." It shows two box cars coupled together with wheels pointing in opposite direction. Which of three is the stronger composition. Thanks

I like the third one the best, but I would crop it slightly differently. I'm making one assumption which I'm pretty sure is correct. The way you composed the photo, it appears to me that the photo is more about the interesting shapes, lines, and colors than it is a "train" photo. The reason it's important is that precision is more critical for a shot that emphasizes large shapes than say for candid street photography where small details that are sloppy can actually enhance the casual nature of the image. In this photo it's easy to see how one rectangle balances another. For that reason, I noticed 3 minor details about this photo that you might consider changing. They are: the image is slightly tilted (left train higher than the right), the gap between trains is near the middle but slightly to the right of center, and the tracks at the very bottom detract a little from what is otherwise a pretty clean frame. Fortunately, all three of those issues can be fixed by one crop:

I didn't worry about keeping the aspect ratio the same, so you may need to modify it slightly if that is important, i.e. for framing.

A few quick additional comments:

My crop is symmetrical. It would also work to crop so that the gap is off to one side, but I suggest moving it more off center than in your crop. If it's just a small amount off center it looks like an oversight rather than an artistic choice.

There's a yellow cast in photos 2 and 3 as compared to 1.

The vertical crop of 1 and 2 has potential. Cropping vertically shows off the many horizontal layers. It's close, but this scene doesn't quite work for me cropped that way although I encourage you to keep experimenting with that type of crop.

Nice job,

jbf

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Teak
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Re: Composition - C&C Request
In reply to jbf, Jul 9, 2013

Thank you very much for taking the time to offer me feedback. It is interesting that you consider the landscape one to be a stronger composition. I thought the potrait one was stronger because it had more of a text book layout - top third; sky, middle; rail cars and bottom; tracks. I will continue to come back to your comments and feedback as I continue developing "an eye" for the picture.

Cheers

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jbf
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Re: Composition - C&C Request
In reply to Teak, Jul 9, 2013

Teak wrote:

Thank you very much for taking the time to offer me feedback. It is interesting that you consider the landscape one to be a stronger composition. I thought the potrait one was stronger because it had more of a text book layout - top third; sky, middle; rail cars and bottom; tracks. I will continue to come back to your comments and feedback as I continue developing "an eye" for the picture.

Cheers

The reason I said the vertical crop was "close" was because I can see what you're doing with the layers and I like it. It's difficult to explain why the vertical crop doesn't quite work as well for me, but I'll give it a shot.

You can easily divide the image into three layers in terms of context: sky, train/track, and ground. You composed those perfectly into thirds of the frame. However, visually there are more than three layers. The visual layers from the bottom going up (ignoring the smaller divisions) are green grass, dark brown tracks, light brown gravel, black tracks & wheels, orange cars, and blue sky. Looking at it from that perspective, the blue layer is on top and it's the largest layer making it more prominent than the other layers, but it's also arguably the least interesting layer. If there were more of the low clouds filling the bottom half of the sky and going all the way across the frame, the white layer they would create would be a perfect addition. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking maybe that's the reason I used the word "close" even though I wasn't able to put my finger on it until now. That extra cloud layer would balance the layers above the train with the layers below the train. It's a small issue in a photo that's close to being very good, but as I said in my previous post, the small issues stand out in images of this genre.

Another reason I prefer the horizontal crop is because the orange train is a great photographic subject and more of the train is visible in the wider crop which adds to the impact of the shot.  The horizontal crop also has more of the repeating vertical lines in the sides of the train cars as well as the track and that adds a nice rhthymic element to the photo.  I know you were just asking about composition, but it's difficult to ignore the overall impact when evaluating the photo.

jbf

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Teak
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Re: Composition - C&C Request
In reply to jbf, Jul 10, 2013

Thank you once again for taking the time for a detailed response.

You have given me additional and new perspectives on evaluating composition. I had my doubts about the rail line in the vertical composition however, never clued into the dominant effect of the blue sky.

You have been very helpful.

Cheers.

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VadymA
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Re: Composition - C&C Request
In reply to Teak, Jul 13, 2013

I would suggest experiment with moving closer and changing angles next time. There are many parts of the rail cars that would make an interesting subject especially with proper light. I always find it rewarding to start with a broader scene and then move closer and closer until, in your example, just one bolt on the rail wheel is in the frame. You would be amazed at what you could eventually get as a keeper. To illustrate, I cropped your image as much as the resolution allowed to something that I would consider stronger composition: in this case it is more about playing with colors and lines while giving just enough details to let the viewers know what it is. The original image looks too much like a regular snapshot; this one is a bit more "artistic" in my view. It is rather subjective though, so take it with a grain of salt. Hope it was helpful anyways...

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