Saturday, December 13, 2014

Looking at Photographs III

Yet again, I'm asking you to go back to your library of by-now very familiar photographs.

Set aside the technical details. You're not even remotely trying to guess anything technical, this time around. You don't care about settings or where the camera was or any of that. Put it all aside, and look with new eyes.

What is your instant reaction to each picture? Pause a little and let it soak in. How do you feel about it after a few seconds?

If it's an ad, how do you feel about the product or brand? "Luxurious", "Good Value", "High Quality", "Cheap" and so on might be the kind of answers possible here.

If it's a picture of a person, what do you think of the person? "Tired", "Brilliant", "Strung Out", "Desperate", or "Beautiful" perhaps.

If it's an art photo of some sort, your reaction might be less obvious. But try to catalog it anyways. Even if you're just puzzled by the thing, you can still write down "What?" and that is itself a reaction of sorts.

Do a few of these, and then go back through the notes you made on technical details. Do you agree with the technical details, still? Perhaps make some updates.

You've tried, a little, to use camera technique to make a photo that conveys what you want it to convey. Try, again, to connect the camera techniques used in the photos you're looking at to the reaction you're experiencing when you look at the photograph.

Make one more pass through the pictures, to add a little bit of composition to your store of knowledge. Look at each picture and answer these questions:

What are the major masses of color and tone in each, and where are they in the frame?

Is there a subject? If so, where is it in the frame?

Are there are obvious lines or curves in the frame? Where are they?

Is the picture "too busy", "too dull", or "just right"?

If you look at the picture for things that embody "balance" -- whatever that means -- what things about the photo strike you as balanced, and what things strike you as unbalanced?

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