Re: Re: lesson 6 – basic composition

Duncan Rawlinson

It’s impressive how much your composition has improved. I love seeing the progress you’re making. You’re applying the principles from your tightly framed photographs to larger and braver natural settings. This doesn’t go unnoticed.

Let’s start by stating that this image is strong. Like your last assignment, you’ve used lines as one of your primary elements. However, unlike your last assignment, color plays no role in this photograph.

You mentioned that you made this decision because the scene was too cluttered with colors if you didn’t change the photograph to black and white. This is completely reasonable and a great way to simplify. However, even though you solve one problem, you create another.

Color photography and black and white photography are two completely different worlds. They require you look for different things around you. For example, in color photography you want to see the ways colors interact with each other. If you don’t like the colors, sure you can make it black and white to simplify the color palette down to a series of grey tones, but you problem won’t have found the strongest range in tone. Which is the problem with this photograph. A good black and white photograph usually consists of a wide tonal range (not always, but it’s a good rule of thumb when you’re first starting out). This image doesn’t have range. You would need to crunch your blacks to make this a more dramatic photograph (you can try this using the curve tool in PhotoShop) and there are too many light greys in the middle of the spectrum to make this photograph dramatic enough.

The point is, that stripping the color was a necessary compromise which allowed you to salvage the photograph, but in doing so left yourself with a well composed photograph that lacks the necessary tonal range that black and white calls for.

It’s not a bad photograph. It’s actually a very nice photograph. It’s just not the best use of a black and white photograph.

Keep up the good work though. You’re progressing beautifully!