Tedolph opinion.

Started Jan 18, 2013 | Discussions thread
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mh2000 Senior Member • Posts: 2,776
Re: Actually, these are all ... seemingly arbitrary ?

Detail Man wrote:

mh2000 wrote:

Lights wrote:

tedolf wrote:

mh2000 wrote:

Ok, you've been kind of dick replying to some of my image posts, but still, I'll help you out. (Recognizing that you don't see my genius in composition! Hahaha!). Still these are good rules:

Avoid any lines entering a frame through the corner.

Avoid any lines that are almost plumb... if they are going to be at an angle make them at a decisive angle, if they should be vertical or horizontal, make them vertical or horizontal.

Only use the Rule of Thirds as a starting point, the whole image must end up balanced.

Understand the concept of a center of gravity and use it for composition. People subconsciously perceive the c.g. of expanses.

Look for interesting series/ratios in an image's elements, we respond to pleasing frequencies in images as we do in music.

No matter what, we will try to find 3 distinct dominant elements in any image... angles between the centroids (c.g.'s) of these elements should line at angles of roughly 30 or 60 degrees (I've never measured this, you have to work with overall balance in your frame, so just use this as starting point like the rule of 3rds).

Manage edge elements carefully. You want the flow of anyone's attention to stay within the frame of your image.

... those came off the top of my head.

Happy shooting!

good tips, some of which I did not know.

Can you explain the CG rule a bit?

I am not sure I am following you.


It's kinda like a teeter-totter...something bigger on one side might need something smaller a bit farther out on the other. etc. or something large and dull on one side might need something small and bright on the other. It 'can get complicated with leading lines and diagonals etc. but basically it's about visual balance.

So all is in harmony and balances with the universe...Grasshopper.

(Lots of good points from mh2000)


Actually, "rules" is probably the wrong word, should be more "things to be aware of." In the real world it's all a compromise or it's boring!

I think that you have been speaking in "qualitative" terms that are not themselves coherently quantifiable. That's fine, but such expressions, by nature, seemingly cannot lead to more than subjective imaginings of ever-mysterious and intangible "resonances". Now that you know my proclivity to seek symmetry in form, it may not at all surprise you that I am a double-Libra with Neptune rising. But Mars was at the time retrograde ... thus we return to potential "virtual chaos" ?

Some similar intangibles have emerged within the following previous conversations on this thread:

Look for interesting series/ratios in an image's elements, we respond to pleasing frequencies in images as we do in music.

Do tell us more on this. Should we use "just intoned" sub-divisions (2/1, 3/2, 4/3, 5/4, 6/5, etc.) ?

Just as in music, there are different scales... it is up to you to decide which you like, but be aware of it and use it when appropriate.

It is indeed quite possible to break every "rule" without ever knowing a single one of them ... (For me) "keepers" and "gems" arise much more out of inspirations than out of trepidations.

This is true because we instinctively know what is good composition and if you go back you will find that many of your better photos roughly agree with some of the rules. The problem with any rules for photographic composition is that nothing of interest will lend itself to adhering to all the rules at once and when you try to force something to follow the rules you typically destroy what is interesting in the first place. As a photographer, we are stuck with the messiness of reality and have to work with it and not try to force it to adhere to arbitrary rules.

The above paragraph seems to me entirely "circular" in nature. It negates its very own conceptions.

The above statements of mine are not to say that sensory impressions and expressions are not made up of what may be mystical and (even unto ourselves) mysterious elements. It is to say that such is the stuff that is not amenable to being brought into the realms of hypothesis or theory.

Even when it is (amenable to being brought into the realms of hypothesis or theory), there is no assurance that any two individuals perceptions would agree. Thus, the term "rules" does not serve us well with regards to such personal expressions - particularly when what may please one individual cannot even be quantified such that other individuals can reproduce the relationship(s) ? ...

Well, there are just the sort of things I think about when I'm taking a photo and have to think about how I'm composing it, usually I go more from feel and how I respond to the composition. The not letting something enter a frame through the corner is pretty hard and fast for me, geometrically is almost always distracting.

No, the last paragraph isn't circular in nature, it is realistic. "Good composition" comes from working with all the messiness and making a good photograph -- it doesn't mean that you can make a "perfect composition." It is impossible to force all photos to adhere to all rules at once.

Something I read once stated, "Don't try to force all photos to follow the Rule of Thirds, but if your photo lends itself to the rule you might as well follow it because so many think it makes for a better photo." There is some truth to this.

Some photos just magically come together, others you have to think about. It is good to establish your own list of what you like and don't like when you try to solve a difficult composition... or I guess you can avoid difficult compositions and only take the photos that  just fall into place for you.


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