To maximize the quality / visual impact of a photograph, solid composition is essential. The figure on the left, “composition triangle”, illustrates my understanding to major aspects of a solid photo composition after reading Michael Freeman’s book “The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos”. Three vertexes are tool, skill, and intent. To maximize the area of the composition triangle, all three vertexes need to be well positioned.
Three essentials of the tool are camera body, optics and lighting (for GIMP wizards, certain effects of optics and/or lighting condition can be well simulated). A small part of Chapter 3, 4 and 6 does discuss the impacts of different tools (optics, exposures, light, post-processing software) to composition and proper situations for employing them.
“Skill” comprises the following aspects:
- High familiarity of the mechanic control of the tools.
- The ability of _swiftly_ executing all necessary procedures for making a photograph that expresses/translates clearly defined intent. Be the intent is from oneself or directed/instructed by others. This ability comes from compositional knowledge and photo-shooting experiences.
A great part of this book elaborates design principles in art with many picture examples. It is very well organized educational text on both gestalt theory (frame proportion, visual balance, visual rhythm, visual contrast, etc) and photographic elements (point, line, motion, etc.).
The intent is the most elusive part of the “composition triangle”. It is what the photographer wants to express/translate in his/her photographs. It might have nothing directly to do with one’s photographing experience, sophistication of one’s mind and purity of one’s heart are what really matter here. However elusive this part is, this book approaches it in considerable clarity and fluency, in chapter 5.
This book has systematically addressed compositional techniques and philosophy in a focused, no-fluff-just-stuff writing style. The author’s text is as beautiful and intelligent as his photographs. My high admiration and respect to the author Mr. Michael Freeman.