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Michael Freeman in Composition

Obregon Obregon

Is from: Southold, US
3074 posts

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Obregon Moderator Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Donor Ribbon awarded for the contribution to the 2016 campaign Charter Member
Sat 19-Mar-22 01:57 PM
When I first started taking pictures many years ago, I spent a great deal of my energy dealing with the problems of exposure and focus: f/stops, apertures and such. Camera automation freed me from that, except to the extent that I made the adjustments for artistic control. Nowadays I can concentrate on composition.

Most photography composition books discuss composition in easy to grasp terms: lines, shapes, the rule of thirds and the likes. Michael Freeman takes a different approach (although he doesn’t reject those ideas). He draws his analysis from Gestalt psychology. He examines compositions by using scientific tools to follow the movement of a viewer’s eyes around the contents of a photograph. He explores the question of what will draw in and hold the viewer’s attention.

The book is illustrated with the author’s photographs for each of the points he raises. They are also accompanied by small scale graphics that overlay a smaller image of the picture and show the flow of attention. The author sometimes uses so-called heat maps that show where viewers’ eyes have been drawn within the photographs.

One can read this book quickly but I recommend studying each photograph carefully before reading the related text. In many of the images the subject at first eluded my eyes. My initial impression often was that the picture was too busy. Then I considered that my stick-in-the-mud eyes were too bound to a traditional way of looking. Perhaps this book was just what I needed to break out of the mold that I had been building on for many years.

It is Freeman’s difference of approach that made this book worthwhile. Whether this will ultimately make a difference in the way I compose photographs remains to be seen. Still, this was a good start at shaking up my complaisance.