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A couple of shots from a recent trip to the countryside. I was trying to focus on composition and I'd appreciate a couple of pointers as to where this has worked and where it hasn't.
Thanks in advance.
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Three nice shots. They work well in black and white, which really brings out the texture of the wheat fields. They're a bit lacking in contrast (especially #2) but that does give a feeling of hot, hazy, languid summer days with insects buzzing slowly around.
I think all three compositions are good but they could be improved further by making more use of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds isn't appropriate for every photograph but, like all rules, I think it's worth sticking by it, unless you have a good reason not to.
#1 You've positioned the most distant pylon about a third of the way across the frame but the nearest pylon would be better placed on the third because it's the most important part of the composition. I don't think anything is really achieved by moving the front pylon off the third. The horizon isn't anywhere near a third but, in this case, I think it doesn't need to be. If the horizon were a third of the way from the top, the pylons would be too small. You could get closer to the pylons and put the horizon a third of the way from the bottom but, in this case, I think the foreground texture is interesting enough to be worth more than a third of the frame — that's a good reason to break the rule, for me.
#2 You've split the frame roughly 50/50 between sky and ground. That's fine if the sky and the ground are equally interesting but I don't think they are, in this case. For me, the ground is much more interesting so this is a case where I'd go for two-thirds land and one-third sky. One other thing to bear in mind is the sloping horizon. It looks like it really is a gentle hill in this case but this kind of almost-flat horizon can look like a wonky camera. I think I'd push up the contrast in this one, too, as it looks a bit flat.
#3 Excellent. I'd just crop a sliver off the right hand side to remove the pole that's intruding, and maybe clone out the bright white object about half way along the horizon.
This is where the personal preferences come in - I wouldn't have gone for mono in any of these - the range of tones in all but 3 have become a very similar grey. One of the skills of mono is being able to visualise what shade of grey any particular colour would become.
If you wanted mono, then a bit of playing with the color mixer during conversion might have increased the drama and impact considerably.
That is what is really missing for me - strong impact. The conditions were totally against you - clear blue sky and bright sun with no cloud I guess. A polariser would have darkened the sky and added contrast i think, but, if you are like me, you never use one. ( I should, I have several but am too lazy!)
For me, the first one is nearly there - I'll upload a slight mod to balance the pylons across the frame, but the composition of the other two doesn't really work IMHO.
No 2 has no real focal point, the wheat is not well enough defined and my eyes just roam aimlessly around the picture.
No 3 is better defined, but the pylons are messy and again, there is nothing for my eyes to rest on.
I quite like No 1 though it would benefit from colour filtration to change the tonal relationships.
Thanks for the comments, a lot to think about.
I agree, the composition of 2 and 3 definitely need work. As for the tonal flatness that you've described, I'm of two minds. During post-processing (in aperture 3 + silver efex - I'm still v much a beginner) I was aiming for that subtle range of tones that I like so much in some more modern fine art photography. I quite like subtle tonal dynamics and dead space in images - I think it can be quite beautiful (when done right).
I'm not saying for a second that I have achieved this aim, I just thought it helpful to explain what my photographic goals are.
Thank you for taking the time to look at and discuss my photos. It is really apreciated.
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