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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> Breaking "The Rules" of photography
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02/24/2006 02:57:14 PM · #1
Which version of this image do you think has more appeal and why?

Blue Ribbon Winner:' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/452/thumb/295758.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/452/thumb/295758.jpg', '/') + 1) . '... Rule of Thirds:' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299805.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299805.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

We have here a perfectly wonderful and very deserving blue ribbon winning image. Lets use it as an example to learn something more about photography.

There is always a lot of discussion at DPC about "The Rules" of photographic composition and breaking "The Rules". The most commonly mentioned and used one at DPC is the Rule of Thirds (ROT).

Yes, we all know that rules are just guidlines. Yes, we all know you don't have to do things according to the rules. Don't get hung up on arguing that part. Just think about what happens when a rule IS applied.

The Rule of Thirds, when used, is supposed to add viewer interest to photographic compositions. Our question is, "Does it?"

Our ribbon winner "breaks" the rule of thirds. The model is to far to the right. In the ROT version it was simply cropped again at the same aspect ratio as the original. Nothing more. The new framing meets ROT two ways:
1-The centerline of the model's body is aligned to the rightmost rule of thirds line.
2-The tip of the model's nose is placed exactly on the upper rightmost rule of thirds intersection point. Intersection points supposedly are great places to center things. ;)

By convention these technical details are supposed to add to the compositional value of the photograph. Do you think it does or does not in this case?
02/24/2006 03:10:42 PM · #2
To me the ROT does NOT make a better picture. It's hard to describe but to me it's to do with the balance of the branches vs. the person in the original that is lost with the closer crop.
02/24/2006 03:17:47 PM · #3
I believe the first is better. She seems 'more' of a guide on the path verses blocking the path on the ROT.
02/24/2006 03:22:09 PM · #4
The first image looks better. I think it's because the lovely lady is smaller and the background takes on more of an ominous tone.
02/24/2006 03:26:14 PM · #5
This will probably explain why I do so badly in the challenges but...

I like them both equally.

The first is somehow more ethereal, the background having as big an impact as the subject, and somehow being more "emootional" and distant, as though the heart is a votive offering of some kind.

The second really grabs my attention but with the subject and the heart dominating the image, leaving you in no doubt as to the intent of the underlying metaphor. (Did I just say metaphor? Argh! Poseur alert! :-)

Both are great shots and both have different emotional feel to them. But I do not think one is bettter than the other.

Carl
02/24/2006 03:30:50 PM · #6
Both pictures look pretty much the same to me. ROT does NOT add anything in this case.
02/24/2006 03:39:46 PM · #7
For me, the original picture works much better. ROT is just a guideline there is more in a good picture then just rules. The crop in the second picture made it more like a portrait, it lost a feeling of mystery of the forest. The heart - a symbol of love -mysterious feeling goes well with fear and danger of the unknown woods. You never know what you are getting into "fooling" with love.
02/24/2006 03:49:36 PM · #8
Compositional guide-lines like the ROT rely on relative weights within the image, which when balanced with its purely spatial givens work magically well. The term Golden Rule is therefore quite apt.

To apply the ROT (or any other compositional rules without any consideration for elements other than the purely spatial) would not -or only very rarely- have a satisfying result.

Depending on the number, nature and order of non-spacial elements present, the business of calculating the rule can be so difficult that it is no longer practical to do so. I believe that most successful compositions have been arrived at by employing our sense of it rather than by consulting an engineer. I'm equally convinced, however, that, if we had some visual engineer to consult in these matters, he'd be amazed at the accuracy of such a trained instinct.

;-0

Message edited by author 2006-02-24 15:51:08.
02/24/2006 07:03:40 PM · #9

Blue Ribbon Winner:' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/452/thumb/295758.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/452/thumb/295758.jpg', '/') + 1) . '... Rule of Thirds:' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299805.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299805.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

The difference between the two images:' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299896.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5792/thumb/299896.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Not surprising that the blue ribbon winner is liked better than the ROT version. It did not get a blue for nothing. :)

The lesson:
Rules are made to be broken!
Framing is king.

It is fascinating how the innocuous looking background that got cropped out, as shown above, makes a big difference how the image is interpreted by reviewers.
02/24/2006 07:37:34 PM · #10
The photographer managed to do something else with the composition that really makes the image: he imparts a sense of mystery and adventure, very elusive and difficult to achieve.
02/25/2006 11:30:46 AM · #11
I think what makes the first one more suited to the message of the shot is the relative size /placement of the model.

The idea of 'Surrender' to me, is submissive. In the second (ROT) crop, she appears much larger, and higher in the frame. This seems to indicate dominance. I like the lower placement / less weighty composition of the original.
02/25/2006 12:19:36 PM · #12
Forgive me for being lame here but unless the ROT police are using micrometers to insure that the bridge of the nose, or an eye is exactly at the upper right third, I don't get the "Breaking the rule of thirds" here.

More or less the subject is in the right (vertical) third of the frame in both shots.

The first shot is better IMO as there is more depth...we can travel further back into the forest. The smaller subject in relation to the background gives us more dimension, it creates an artistic environment and less of a portrait.

It is easy to compare two like shots and decide which each of us as individuals like better. I believe (without a comparison shot) this particular image would have stood either way. There are some mechanics here that are just superb.

02/25/2006 12:35:41 PM · #13
The photographer used three things in the original that created a good visual trip for the viewers. The first was rot. The heart, which is the focal point of the journey and the first thing the eye looks at is at the lower right intersection(more or less) of rot. From there the eye travels up to the female's face and then out to the background which is a nice muted tone. The eye gets caught by the focused branches in the upper left and gently brought down to the heart again. He used figure/ground space to good effect. The color leads the eye to the heart first. This picture has wonderful motion.
Summary. The photographer used color, figure/ground, negative space and rot to his advantage. All of which are "rules" of good photography.
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