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Can't wait for the fresh peaches!

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Local Blogs - Curt Dennison Photography
Tuesday, 04 May 2010

My first photo teachers, Kim Mosley and Hans Levi, were adamant about composing in the camera and not relying on cropping later. When you look through the viewfinder, look at it as a finished photograph. Pay attention to placement of the subject, to the edges of the frame, to what touches what and where. They set my compositional habits for life. (George Bartko, my painting and drawing teacher set my love of light.)

As a general rule, I crop nothing. I show the whole image as it was created. I never fix a composition after the fact. Consequently, I am much more in tune with the visual world in the present moment, which is when it counts. Photos are not made the next day, they are made at the moment the shutter is tripped.

Photography with a macro lens is fantastic because it exaggerates (usually) one element of a photo, but by doing so it also makes attention to composition vital. Because most of the image is soft, or fuzzy, then the part that is sharp takes on greater meaning subjectively and carries more of the composition pictorially.

In general, successful compositions are those using the "rule of thirds", meaning you can divide the rectangle into thirds vertically and horizontally and place the emphasis in one, or more, of the intersections. In practical terms what it means is that having the main subject in the center is usually not visually appealing, nor is having it to one side with a bunch of irrelevant stuff occupying the remainder if the frame.

You can see in this image of peach blossoms in my backyard that the blooms in focus stretch across the bottom third of the composition and the surrounding branches that are not sharp are 'holding' the foreground in place visually. Subjectively, the fact that the background branches are not sharp, give the image a sense that the scene continues where we cannot see. It gives our brain comfort and results in a pleasing experience of the photograph.

The light in this photo also plays a tremendous part in the composition. The blossoms are gently stroked by the early morning light coming from one side and creating distinct shadows which serves to highlight the delicate blossoms. The grass and the fence in the background are in shadow and that serves to make the foreground blossoms more dramatic.

All that said, I can't wait for the fresh peaches! 



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