Monday, May 19, 2008

An Instant Lesson on Composition

I've been having fun with flickr.com, a site where you can upload your photographs and see photos from others. It's an amazing site, really, and you can find pictures of pretty much anything there.

But as I've been cruising around the flickr groups I've realized what a great lesson it is on composition.

In Flickr, you can post your photos and they're collected on your own "photostream." (You can see mine here.) And if you want, you can also put a photo in a group "pool." There are scads of groups on Flickr, organized by subject or by color or by theme or just by general excellence. You like roses? There are pools of photos with just rose pictures. Groups for just dog pictures or animal pictures and yes, even insect pictures, abound. You name it, there's a group for it. Rusty things. Architectural details. Ordinary household things. Red things. One of my favorite groups is Shutter Sisters, all photos by women.

When you click on a group, you see the group's photo pool. The shot here is a screen shot of a group I like called "Super Shots," and it shows the photos that were most recently added in thumbnail form. (If you're actually on the flickr site, it's bigger and easier to see the individual photos, just so you know.) If you're in Flickr, you can click on any photo to see it in full size. (And then you can go from there to the photographer's photostream to see his/her other pictures. And then you can see what groups she belongs to... and basically you've managed to spend a whole heck of a lot of time at the computer seeing cool stuff. But I digress.)

So here's the thing about seeing a group photo pool: some photos just jump out at you and make you want to see them in full size, while others just don't attract attention. And it's interesting to think about what that is. When you view a pool of photos this way, suddenly composition and contrast and color and lines and forms. It makes you realize how strong composition will show up even in a little thumbnail and announce a good picture.

If you're feeling like thinking about composition, go check out flickr and see what compositions grab you.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Very interesting. I think you are exactly right. I find that contrast is one of the most important elements in a compostion. It's one of my weaknesses. I am drawn to putting a bunch of muddy colors together. Usually, it doesn't work.