May 27th, 2010


an illustrated progress report pt 1

When I started on learning to take pictures, I read a lot of Thom Hogan's articles over at his Nikon site. Yes, he's writing mostly about SLR and DSLR cameras, and only really about Nikons. That's totally fine, because he writes a lot of really sensible stuff pointing out that look, it's art you morons, and you do not need fancy electronics to make art, you can do it with burnt sticks or by banging rocks together, so stop whining and go out and PRACTICE. Since I can draw, this was exactly what I needed to hear.

One of his articles points out that composition is composition, and you'll probably learn more about composition in a life drawing class than in any photography class. Oh. I've had rudimentary life drawing. Well then. So I poked and made a list of composition elements (the first entry with the camera tag). For the past 5 months, I've been hacking away at various elements. Most of what I've come up with is snapshots, not great art. I am ok with this. You would not believe how many crappy horses and seashells and stained glass windows I've drawn. Most great artists have a much larger pile of absolutely terrible practice work, so I am not alone.

From My Pictures

This picture was the first one to really set me off on a quest. It's a nice enough snapshot. It's also totally uncropped. And it wasn't what I meant to really take, because I mostly use my optical viewfinder. I wasn't cropping to the viewfinder's coverage area because I didn't understand how to find it, or why I should care. So I poked, and prodded, and got help (many thanks ghent_the_cynic) and calculated that my viewfinder is about 75% coverage.

For a while I thought that meant I had to crop everything to match the viewfinder. This is wrong. I should check if cropping improves the picture... sometimes it does (as with this one) and other times it doesn't, like with a lot of the pictures where I try for the subject bursting out of the viewfinder frame, as below.

From My Pictures

Eventually, I had the astonishing (to me) realization that I can crop out bits of a picture and get a new! improved! picture.

From My Pictures

There is probably more to learn about cropping.