(1)Learning to See Creatively Design,Color&Composition by Bryan Peterson (2)Mastering Composition by Tom Grill (3)Mastering Photographic Composition,Creativity and Personal Style by Alain Briot (4)Any books by Michael Freeman or Brenda Tharp
Probably Alain Briot's book. I have a couple of Briot's books and they give an interesting, detailed insight into the preparation and deliberation of professional landscape photographers. If you want landscape composition, check out Briot.
I also like books by David DuChemin and John Shaw, though Shaw's books are probably more technical than what you want. DuChemin's books are well rounded in their subject matter. Shaw's are more targeted.
Post this question in the books forum. I think Conrad Obregon has read and reviewed just about every photography book ever written. His reviews are on Amazon, too.
Honestly, Scott Kelby's video on composition is all you really need (Crushing the Composition). There's all sorts of rules and books on rules out there. In the end there are just some simple pointers:
1. Shoot different angles, heights, etc. until the picture "feels" right 2. Look at lots of examples of photos you really like and try to figure out why you like them and emulate the style 3. Simplify, simplify, simplify - try to make your picture say one thing if possible 4. Minimize distractions around the border
- What level are you at? (and how do you even define that) - what kind of photography? (portrait, landscape, urban, ...) - what kind of book? (lots of photos, lots of text, both, on-line) - where do you want to get to? (related to the first question)
I think I would go to local book-store and browse through some and see what kind of thing you like.
I have numerous from over the last 50 years -- I don't really go back to them much (after a few years) as I am not "there" anymore.
Fri 21-Jun-13 05:30 AM | edited Fri 21-Jun-13 05:31 AM by Beachthongs
Thanks for your reply Dennis.
• I consider myself as being at an advanced level. In short, I studied illustration, design and photography at Uni and went on to make a living from these disciplines for many years. I suppose I've established a degree of artistic competence with a recognised ability to visually communicate well – I'm not trying to be boastful here, just answering your question about 'how do you even define' what level you're at.
• Much of my photographic work in the past was advertising related with a clear objective: what do I want to say in this photo or illustration and how do I convey this? Nowadays, I shoot mostly character-rich urban scenes and natural landscapes. I love all kinds of patterns, textures and geometric abstracts.
• I'm hoping to find books (new or old), journal articles or online content that beginners and/or advanced users consider helpful regardless of whether pictures are displayed with the text. As a former part-time teacher, I'm still curious to understand what and why different photographers and artists find beneficial to their learning.
• Where do I want to get to? The topic of pictorial aesthetics and emotive content in imagery has intrigued me for many years. I've read several books on composition but continue searching for the bible text. My ultimate aim is to establish a universal, neuro-scientific/psychological explanation of what makes a 'great-looking' picture – having said this, I fully appreciate that I will never achieve my aim. At the very least, I will enjoy the ride and expect to gain a tad more understanding in the research process. Hopefully, this will help me improve my picture taking ability and allow me to share a few more tips with other keen photographers and artists with a like-minded curiosity about composition.
So what's your favourite book on picture composition?
Thu 27-Jun-13 02:02 AM | edited Thu 27-Jun-13 02:06 AM by CaptainYooh
I don't know. I flipped through the pages of the books on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=photo+composition&tag=mh0b-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=1470508623&ref=pd_sl_84v5zmgvlx_p) using the "Look Inside" feature where available plus whatever books are available in our local stores and found most of them quite shallow on compositional theory and foundations. Lots of good photos, yes, but not a lot of good theory. A few usual words on the rule of thirds etc. I mean, most people looking for a book on composition are already into the hobby deep enough to want to learn more, so it would be safe to assume they do understand what an aperture is, what the long lenses are used for and they have very likely heard of the rule of thirds. Peterson's book is mostly based on anecdotal evidence of how one shot worked better for the author in a particular situation. Again, a pleasure to flip through with all the good pics but not much to learn. Still looking for a really serious encyclopedic type publication/textbook on photographic composition.
I've got to agree with you CaptainYooh. Lot's of books with great pictures, all very inspirational ... but rather shallow in theory. I don't blame the authors for this entirely though. Science knows little about how and why we perceive aesthetics in comparison to what artists have instinctively known for centuries.
I think that the "Kodak Library of Creative Photography: Mastering Composition and Light" is one in the series published by Kodak many years ago that has stood the test of time. While there are a lot of references to film photography in the book series, all of the books covering light, composition and related subjects are superb.
When studying composition, it is extremely important to engage in with all of the presentation-style art forms: painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, sketching, photography and theatrical set design. By absorbing the styles and presentations of acknowledged artists, we ground ourselves in all of successful compositions created by a lot of really talented people throughout the ages who've experimented to come up with so many things from which we can learn.
The point is that studying what worked for great painters, sculptors and photographers helps us eliminate most (if not all) of the poor composition choices which aren't currently working for us.
I think a lot of contemporary books on composition essentially dress up most of what Kodak published many years ago.
If you're absolutely set on a contemporary book, I really like "The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression" written by Bruce Barnbaum. He gets right to the point, his photography is superb, and he writes well. I've reviewed (literally) over a hundred photography books over the years and I think Barnbaum's is the best on composition.
The best analytical book on the subject of outdoor composition, IMO, is "Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography" (by Galen Rowell of course). It's another book that really gets quickly to the point using clear, concise language while offering superb photographic examples.
I don't think you can beat Alain Briot's book, Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style. Thorough, comprehensive, well written and beautifully illustrated. Covers composition and as the title suggests, creativity and personal style. Could be a text book on the subject. Highly recommended.
Thanks for the book suggestions agitater. I have come across those titles but will have a closer look at them.
I totally agree that we can learn from other artists such as sculptors, painters and set-designers working with different media. The elements and principles of design can be applied to many things: gardens, architecture, dance ... even music! As you probably know, Ansell Adams was an accomplished pianist and consciously applied his knowledge of music theory to his photographic work.
Learning about how other artists have solved their design problems equips us with sharper tools to tackle our own photographic artistry and promotes our ability to appreciate and enjoy the art of others even more.
I bought Barnbaum's book (thanks, Howard) as well as Within the Frame by David duChemin. Both are available electronically and, upon first quick flip through, both seem to be a good read on the subject.