Archive for the ‘composition’ Category


The photographer looking at the world using a camera such as a DSLR is seeing in two dimensions. The depth proved by humans’ stereo vision, binocular sight, is not present when looking through a single lens. Monocular viewing also restricts the “field of view”. Using a camera entails capturing a slice of time with a fixed focal length; a purposeful selection of peripheral vision. A friend asked me why no one had invented a device that would allow you to see the world with a the field of view from 10mm – 500mm in a compact device.  The glib and accurate answer is, “you have two already”.  Seeing and thinking in “restricted periphery” is a skill which requires the exercise of concentrating on your sense of sight and using your knowledge of optics and photography — allowing you to visualize the world in every focal length — the ultimate in vision.

Peripherally, a colleague of mine early in my career, coincidentally named “Wink”, had an eyepiece diopter made to match his vision correction (ie his glasses) and used it on his Nikon F. When he needed clarity — precision — he would look thought the camera, his eyeglasses to the world. Wink lived life on the manic edge, so for him clarity was paramount. Most of us use our visual imaginations to sense and focus on the world photographically, avoiding the distractions and distortions created by the visual chum.

~John

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Just Say No

Posted: November 21, 2017 in composition, creativity, Photography


Celebrating my grandson’s one year birthday I made many snaps. I like being on his level and showing the world from his point of view. Why say no? I took about 150 exposures (while stuffing myself with chilli and birthday cake) but I usually respond to requests to “see them all” or “what else did you take?” by sending the media-hungry a lone picture. Why? Not with animus, but simply to stay vigilant to my audience.  There is a excessive amount of visual pollution and I want to make sure I am not adding to the visual cacophony; and I do that by ruthlessly editing/culling my take.
~john

Three’s a Crowd

Posted: August 20, 2016 in composition, creativity, Travel, wildlife


One of our blog followers submitted this street scene travel snap made with iPhone for a critique. On the plus side we have nice color –  the yellow and blue speak to me.  The rule of three goats (err, rule of thirds) is also a plus. Easy fix would be a tight horizontal crop, but would eliminating the foreground reduce the information content (i.e. crumbling infrastructure), I don’t think so. Additionally, is it more effective to have the goats “randomized” or have them perfectly placed for a eye-grabbing compostiton? Unfortunately, that was not a consideration as the photographer made only one quick snap. Getting the goats (get your goat, get it?) to cooperate — well, only luck and patience can make that happen. Final grade, a B for effort, a C- for the image.
~John