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Old 20th January 2009, 04:58 PM
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Default Subject selection and composition

Another in my occasional series of I'm curious questions:

It would be interesting to hear how everyone goes about selecting their subjects and how they then go about composing their subjects whether it be portrait, still life, landscape or some other subject type.

Most of my work is landscape. Sometimes I have specific subjects in mind but often its just visting a location with camera in tow. i.e. its not usually a project but a location and looking for found subjects if that's not a contradiction in terms. That's where things get tricky. I find that often I can walk around in circles for a couple of hours just studying an area before I start "seeing" photographically in black and white. Thereafter composition is about lining things up for balance and trying to make sure objects don't run out of the edges of print.
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Old 20th January 2009, 05:53 PM
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Pretty much the same approach as me. I often just wander around and if anything looks interesting I photograph it. I tend to go for subjects that evoke some kind of emotional response. having said that, I'll often wander round a subject and not photograph it at the various elements don't work together, or there's extraneous detail that I cannot hide and distracts from the oveall composition.

If I'm in 'landscape mode' I'll often just sit and enjoy the landscape for a few minutes before I set the camera up.

Rob
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Old 20th January 2009, 06:10 PM
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In the landscape I firstly look for the light regardless of the shape and elements of the landscape that are there. Amost always I photograph the light even if it is hitting a less interesting part of the landcape. My still life photography is very similar the only difference being that I "see" an idea in my head and where possible I arrange the light to suit how I "saw" the subject. To clarify the arrangment of the light, I mainly use natural light coming through the window or door and never use the studio or flash.

In my documentary and street photography, light becomes secondary to either the story I plan to tell or the fleeting moment I'm trying to capture. I photograph in the prevailing light and have learned to deal with the problems in printing.
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Old 20th January 2009, 06:31 PM
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As I wrote in the thread, 'Self-set Projects' (JD aka dicko), I'm motivated to make a photograph by subject matter that interests me and to which I'm drawn emotionally. These thoughts and feelings can be quite complex and will largely depend on my mood(s) at the time and how receptive I am. At other times I go out with the camera with no preconceived ideas just to see what or indeed if anything reveals itself. This is when I feel the subject matter has found me, a kind of gift. I often find these images the most rewarding over time. I produced a portfolio of white plastic garden chairs and these came about in this way.

As regard composition, I organise the image on the GG screen or in the viewfinder when I feel it looks right to me. The composition may be considered by some as 'not pleasing,' unbalanced, distracting. But this is of no concern to me, the image must have the right 'feel' to what I want. As to what I want can again be complex, for example there may be a need for it to fit in with other work. I think a lot of what I do is intuitive, I don't think about how I actually take the picture too much.
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Old 21st January 2009, 09:14 AM
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I find when walking around, photographs present themselves to my eye. Clearly I have to be of the right mood to be receptive to such things - sometimes a juxtaposition of shapes and forms jumps out, others it might be an object, or less often, a person. But primarily, a stick to using my eyes until the scene is apparent, then the camera comes out of the pocket.
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Old 21st January 2009, 10:21 PM
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I work in all sorts of ways at different times. This morning I decided I would like to go out and make some images inspired by the light I saw from my window at 8ish am. I thought Tarn Hows might be the place to go, it's about 5 miles up the road, so quick to get to and very familiar, I had a very definite idea, but by the time I got it together, coffee, poridge, shower, open my birthday cards, check my e mails... whoops did I drop in the birthday bit... the light had changed completely so I went all intuitive. Based on my original muse I was armed with my RZ67 so my approach was slow and contemplative. I shot 4 rolls of film and walked around the Tarn. I don't know if I will be happy with what I've done yet, I'll dev tomorrow, but I had an enjoyable day. At one point the snow capped Scafell was lit by it's own burst of sunlight against a thick grey sky, looked fantastic to the eye but maybe not to the less selective 90mm lens that was the only one I had with me.
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Ps I got a parking ticket because my NT sticker was out of date, when I got back my new NT sticker was in the post box. Bugger.
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Old 22nd January 2009, 12:00 PM
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It varies for me depending on intent. I may have a subject in mind - an old church or barn for example - and will walk around and investigate angles etc with a specific aim in mind.

Alternately I may have something more general in mind - such as walking a stretch of the Thames Path - and will try to be more open to found objects and scenarios.
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Old 22nd January 2009, 02:32 PM
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For me I ifthe light looks right I will often take a walk with a favorite camera and film as I tend to find subjects present themselves and if it gives me the ''wow'' factor i tend to take time getting the composition right for what i see in front of me, Richard
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