Composing Myself

Over the last two and a half weeks I have been immersed in an online photography class about composition.  One immediate challenge has presented itself:  seems that in my quest to compose I’ve forgotten how to expose.  That’s a problem.

I know that things will eventually gel.  Last June when I took a manual exposure class I pretty much gave up on trying to comprehend white balance in the last week.  On top of trying to learn the exposure triangle it was just too much.  Now, a year later, I have a much better understanding of both concepts.  Doesn’t mean I’m always successful in application, but I continue to improve.

But, right now?  Not so gelling.  Or, rather, some are, others are not.  I think part of the struggle is that the class is primarily tailored towards those who photograph people. That would not be me.  So, most of the examples in both the written and video materials are put in the people context.  Which means that I have to translate it into my non-people language.  Concepts are the same, but it takes some extra intellectual acrobatics.  Which could be why, at the beginning of week three (the class is four weeks long), my head feels like it could pop off of my neck at anytime.

composing myself,

Do you know how many different types of composure there are?  Lots.  A dizzying array. Rule of thirds, leading lines, reflections, shapes, framing, color, repeating elements, symmetry, patterns, repeating elements.  And that’s not even all of them!  You try thinking of all that, while remembering to expose properly.  Oh, and don’t forget to think about intent.  And then there’s light.  And all sorts of other stuff that I don’t even know exists at this point.

composing myself,

Anyone who ever tells you that photography is a) an inexpensive hobby and/or b) easy is…in the simplest of terms…a liar.

Isn’t this fun?  Wait until I go to Santa Fe for the National Geographic workshop in October.  My head will undoubtedly explode.  Maybe there will even be fireworks.

composing myself,

Anyways, I took my composing self out to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge today (I took the day off of work).  I caught myself muttering out loud a few times.  Not sure if that’s good or bad, but it seemed helpful.  I definitely took fewer photos due to all that thinking.  And of those I tossed a fair number aside.  Feel free to let me know if any are more “compositionally pleasing” than others.

There are two that I’ll specifically point out before taking my leave. They’re not flipped. Essentially, I turned one way…took a shot. Turned the other way….took a shot. While analyzing them I was thinking about a video about leading lines that I watched this morning.  Our eyes tend to look at photos from the left to the right, as if we were reading, which means that depending upon how we place horizontal lines we can end up causing someones eyes to drift out of a photo without taking it all in.

Taking that into consideration, I kind of think the second photo is the stronger of the two. I do follow the boardwalk right out of the photo in the first one, with nary a glance at the trees (or I could be making that up because I seem to be very open to photographic suggestion right now). In the second, it feels like the trees kind of help frame the whole thing and I find my eyes lingering longer.  Two cents from the peanut gallery?

composing myself,

composing myself,

6 thoughts on “Composing Myself

  1. Definitely liking the second one. It draws me in. The first one stops me. The second one has more lead before the turn that gets me started, as well as more length after the turn that keeps me going. And, yep, the second one goes into the tress, the first leaves the trees. Sincerely, TPG


    1. Thanks, Gretchen. TPG….TPG…gimme a hint? Thought of you this morning when I went to yoga at 10 am on a workday…someday we’ll randomly run into each other. 🙂


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