Monday, 29 April 2013

Basilica di Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome

Basilica di Sant'Andrea della Valle, Roma
Photograph Copyright ©2011 Loo Yen Yeo. All Rights Reserved.
Concepts: Itten's contrasts (new/old) (soft/hard)

Description: The Classics' Rebirth resounds in modern-day imagery. This hoarding of the Spring 2011's latest fashion carries the soft femininity of Botticelli's 'Primavera' against Carlo Rainaldi's hard-yet-ornate baroque fa├žade of Basilica di Sant'Andrea della Valle (1663).

Title: Legacy of the Renaissance

02.01 Contrast

This is drawn from the work of Swiss painter, designer, educator and writer, Johannes Itten who taught at the Bauhaus (1919-1922); particularly from his "preliminary course" covering the basics of material characteristics, composition, and color. Contrast formed the root of his theory of composition, and he sent his students out in search of juxtaposed contrasts to awaken their sensitivity.

Competency would be achieved when one could:
  1. feel the contrast without having to visualise it (kinesthesia); then
  2. articulate the feeling of the contrast (objectification); and lastly,
  3. construct an image of the contrast.
Examples of Itten's visual contrasts:
  • Point/line
  • Area/line
  • Plane/volume
  • Area/body
  • Large/small
  • Line/body
  • High/low
  • Smooth/rough
  • Long/short
  • Hard/soft
  • Broad/narrow
  • Still/moving
  • Thick/thin
  • Light/heavy
  • Light/shade
  • Transparent/opaque
  • Black/white
  • Continuous/intermittent
  • Much/little
  • Liquid/solid
  • Straight/curved
  • Pointed/blunt
  • Strong/weak
  • Horizontal/vertical
  • Diagonal/circular
  • New/old

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Philosophies of Personal Expression

  • What sparks enthusiasm in you?
  • How do your interests affect you?
  • How do you want to convey your thoughts photographically?

"Good composition is the artist's way of directing the viewer's vision in a planned de-randomised fashion" - Bruce Barnbaum in 'The Art of Photography' (2010).
  • The difference between 'seeing' and 'artistic seeing'
  • Unified thought
  • Simplicity
  • Expressing your point of view

Derived from "The Art of Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Colonna Traiana, Rome

Trajan's Column, Rome
Photograph Copyright ©2011 Loo Yen Yeo. All Rights Reserved.
Concepts: Frame dynamics (diagonal tension)

Description: The horizontal entablatures of Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano (foreground) and Santa Maria di Loreto (background) tug against the frame, drawing the eye to the monumental diagonal of Trajan's column then leads it upward to the cornice beneath the statue of Saint Peter.

Title: Giving Trajan's Column (113CE) the droop

Friday, 26 April 2013

01.01 Frame Dynamics

The most fundamental difference between images as seen by the naked eye and those through a camera, is the presence of a distinct frame in the latter. This is first felt by the dark surround of the viewfinder - which draws the eye to its corners and edges - thus exerting a pressure on the composition of the image.

The photographer faces a choice: compose the image in a manner where the elements interact strongly or weakly with the frame. Three methods of strong frame dynamics are:
  1. Alignment - where lines of an element are aligned with a side of the frame
  2. Diagonal tension - creating diagonal lines which pull against the sides of the frame
  3. Abstraction via intersection - allowing the sides of the frame to cut through the planes of the element, creating out-of-context shapes
Loo Yeo

Thursday, 25 April 2013

"Drink Me"

Want to find out how deep the rabbit-hole goes?

Start from the top and work your way down
That would be in date order, most recent first. Most blogs are arranged in this way, so very little energy's required - all it takes is a bit of scrolling and the occasional click on 'Older Posts'. Best used if you fancy a touch of randomness 'Loo-style'.

Flicking through 'Where have we been?'
'Where have we been?' is the blog archive. Just click on the wedges to open up the post topics. Best suited if you're the sort of person who enjoys browsing in a bookshop, flicking through pages and stopping when something catches your eye.

Directory of Concepts
This is the blog's 'Table of Contents'. If you're a structured learner, this one's for you. The ideas behind visual composition are laid out in order of development, from the basic to the more advanced.
  • Clicking on a topic title will take you to the relevant post.
  • Yellow index numbers are subtopics with photographic examples; clicking on the sub-topic number (e.g. 1.1.2) will draw up all posts with illustrating photos and, where tag limits allow, the description of the concept.

Good Hunting.
Loo Yeo

Hierarchy of Concepts

"If you, unknowing, are able to create masterpieces in colour, then unknowledge is your way. But if you are unable to create masterpieces in colour out of your unknowledge, then you ought to look for knowledge" - Johannes Itten, Bauhaus teacher in 1920s Germany.

01 Framing Images

  01.01 Frame dynamics
                01.01.1 Alignment
                01.01.2 Diagonal tension
                01.01.3 Abstraction via intersection
  01.02 Frame shape
                01.02.1 The 3:2 frame
                01.02.2 The 4:3 frame
                01.02.3 Switching orientations
                01.02.4 Vertical subjects in horizontal frames
                01.02.5 An uninsistent frame
                01.02.6 Shooting vertically
                01.02.7 Square
                01.02.8 Non-bias patterns
  01.03 Filling the frame
                01.03.1 Filling for presence
                01.03.2 Filling with setting
                01.03.3 Over-filling for detail
  01.04 Placement
                01.04.1 Secondary point of interest
                01.04.2 Subject vector
  01.05 Dividing the frame
                01.05.1 Simple geometric
                01.05.2 Golden section
                01.05.3 Fibonacci
  01.06 Horizon
                01.06.1 Foreground interest
                01.06.2 Emphasising sky
                01.06.3 Similar proportions
  01.07 Frames within frames
                01.07.1 Enhancing perspective
                01.07.2 Introducing movement
  01.08 Cropping
                01.08.1 The view from Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
02 Fundamentals of Design
  02.01 Contrast
                02.01.1 Itten's contrasts: light/shadow
                02.01.2 Itten's contrasts: black/white
                02.01.3 Itten's contrasts: old/new
                02.01.4 Itten's contrasts: smooth/rough
                02.01.5 Itten's contrasts: narrow/broad
                02.01.6 Itten's contrasts: regular/irregular
  02.02 Gestalt Theory of Visual Perception
                02.02.1 Proximity
                02.02.2 Similarity
                02.02.3 Common fate
                02.02.4 Continuity
                02.02.5 Closure
                02.02.6 Area
                02.02.7 Symmetry
                02.02.8 Segregation
  02.03 Balance
                02.03.1 Static equilibrium
                02.03.2 Dynamic equilibrium
                02.03.3 Imbalance
  02.04 Dynamic tension
                02.04.1 Single object
                02.05.2 Multiple elements
  02.05 Figure and ground
                02.05.1 Optical tension
                02.05.2 Increasing interest
                02.05.3 Abstraction
  02.06 Rhythm
                02.06.1 Continuing
                02.06.2 Rhythm and stop
  02.07 Pattern
                02.07.1 Regular
                02.07.2 Irregular
                02.07.3 Breaking the pattern
  02.08 Texture
                02.08.1 Kinesthetic
                02.08.2 Reflective
  02.09 Many
                02.09.1 Implying endless
                02.09.2 Event
  02.10 Perspective
                02.10.1 Linear
                02.10.2 Diminishing
                02.10.3 Aerial
                02.10.4 Colour
                02.10.5 Tonal
                02.10.6 Sharpness
  02.11 Depth
                02.11.1 Strengthening depth
                02.11.2 Diluting depth
  02.12 Visual weight
                02.12.1 Facial
                02.12.2 Inscriptional
                02.12.3 Emotional
  02.13 Looking and the effect of interest
                02.13.1 Spontaneous
                02.13.2 Questing
                02.13.3 Intended order
  02.14 Content
                02.14.1 Weak
                02.14.2 Strong

03 (Photo)Graphic Elements

  03.01 Single point
                03.01.1 Centre
                03.01.2 Moderately off-centre
                03.01.3 Extreme periphery
  03.02 Multiple points
                03.02.1 Line dynamics
                03.02.2 Implications of shape
  03.03 Lines
                03.03.1 Implication
                03.03.2 Literal
  03.04 Cartesian lines - horizontals and verticals
                03.04.1 Horizontal
                03.04.2 Vertical
  03.05 Diagonal lines
                03.05.1 Ordering
                03.05.2 Parallel
                03.05.3 Multiple
                03.05.4 Zig-zags
  03.06 Curves
                03.06.1 Implication
                03.06.2 Relationship to straight lines
  03.07 Eye-lines
                03.07.1 Direct eye contact
                03.07.2 Looking at another object
  03.08 Triangles
                03.08.1 Implication
                03.08.2 Horizontal convergence
                03.08.3 Vertical convergence
                03.08.4 Upward-pointing
                03.08.5 Downward-pointing
  03.09 Circles and ellipses
                03.09.1 Implication
                03.09.2 Literal
  03.10 Quadrilaterals - symmetrical and asymmetrical
                03.10.1 Rectangle
                03.10.2 Symmetrical
  03.11 Vectors
                03.11.1 Diagonals
                03.11.2 Curves
                03.11.3 Implied lines
                03.11.4 Representation
                03.11.5 Orientation
  03.12 Focus
  03.13 Motion
                03.13.1 Complex streaking
                03.13.2 Linear streaking
                03.13.3 Jarring blur
  03.14 Moment (Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Decisive Moment")
                03.14.1 Composition
                03.14.2 Emotion
                03.14.3 Repetition
                03.14.4 Anticipation
  03.15 Optics
  03.16 Exposure
                03.16.1 High contrast
                03.16.2 Low contrast
                03.16.3 Saturation
                03.16.4 Vignette
                03.16.5 Silhouette
                03.16.6 Flare

04 Light and Colour

  04.01 Chiaroscuro
                04.01.1 Crafting ambiguity
                04.01.2 Emphasising outline
                04.01.3 Caustic patterns
                04.01.4 Secondary patterns
  04.02 Key
  04.03 Colour in composition
  04.04 Relationships between colour
  04.05 Muted colours
                04.05.1 Proximal colours
                04.05.2 Subtlety
                04.05.3 (Mood) Calm
                04.05.4 (Mood) Contemplative
                04.05.5 (Mood) Subdued
                04.05.6 (Mood) Foreboding
                04.05.3 (Mood) Gloom
  04.06 Black and white

05 Intent

  05.01 Conventional
  05.02 Challenging
  05.03 Reactive
                05.03.1 Reactive shooting
                05.03.2 Half-planned
  05.04 Planned
  05.05 Documentary
  05.06 Expressive
  05.07 Simple
  05.08 Complex
  05.09 Clear
                05.09.1 Plain
                05.09.2 Compelling
  05.10 Ambiguous
                05.10.1 Soluble (see Delay)
                05.10.2 Assisted
                05.10.3 Unresolved
  05.11 Delay
                05.11.1 Spatial reorganisation
                05.11.2 Footprinting
                05.11.3 Unexpected phenomena
  05.12 Style
  05.13 Fashion

06 Process

  06.01 Looking for order
  06.02 Hunting
                06.02.1 Hunting in the Garden of Roses
  06.03 Repertoire

[01-06] Derived from "The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Using "The Photographer's Eye" as Workbook

I've read Michael Freeman's book cover-to-cover and the pedagogic structure is sound. The matter now is how to make use of it as a tool of personal development.

The first question
  • "How do I keep track of my development?" or put another way,
  • "How do I take stock of my skills?"
The simplest way is to use a copy of table of contents in the book as a check-list, ticking off each skill/concept as I go along - "The Photographer's Eye" becomes, in effect, a workbook. But I'm looking for something that has more utility, more potential for interactivity...

The second question
  • "What form should it take?"
I want the system to be easily accessible and device independent, so the internet is the obvious place. The front-runners are:
  1. website - set-up cost and administrative overhead is high.
  2. image gallery - doesn't accommodate the necessary discourse easily, may enforce frame dimensions (e.g. instagram) which undermine a key aspect of composition.
  3. blog - has the flexibility and low set-up costs, but there are restrictions on total storage occupied by photos and it is strongly sequential which can be managed by good labeling and linking (requires organisational overhead).
I opt for the blog format because of its low initial overheads, to get a feel for the scope of the project before greater commitment.

The third question
concerns how I generate and use learning content.
  • "Should I go through every stage in sequence, taking new photographs for each topic?" Or,
  • "Should I go comb through my existing catalogue, looking for items which demonstrate each topic?"
I decide not to reinvent the wheel, at least at first. Re-curating my collection will exercise the skill of composition analysis. A simple frequency analysis will indicate which skills or 'ways of seeing' are better developed, and which ones less so - any gaps identified can be filled in with new photos. Finally, a series of complete run-throughs will be required to develop conscious competence into subconscious competence.

Loo Yeo

Saturday, 20 April 2013

"The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman

Photograph copyright© Ilex Press, All Rights Acknowledged

Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

There are shoals of books on the wielding of a camera, and if their promise of making one a better photographer rested on their pictorial content alone, then any one of a thousand candidates would be likely.

What sold this book to me was its table of contents. As an educator, it communicated straight away that the author understood his field well enough to distil it down to a small group of core principles, and to order them in priority - a hierarchy of development. As an autodidact, his tone of voice had to resonate with me - to be clear and yet not patronising; to be succinct, yet not terse; to be warm and credible.

Michael Freeman does all of these things. I have rarely enjoyed a book so much, learned so much, and so quickly. He is true to his word, holding firmly to the ideas of composition and design by addressing the qualitative nature of the arrangement of visual elements.

What the book calls "Chapters" are sections covering: the image frame; design basics; graphic and photographic elements; composing with light and colour; intent; and process. Under each section are a number of concise topics, well explained and well illustrated.

Some might baulk at the price, but it is tremendous value - the publication is a generously proportioned 192 pages, the high production quality is essential, and it rewards multiple re-readings. Very highly recommended.

I've already added Mr.Freeman's other books to my wishlist.

Loo Yeo