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Learning to Compose (3): Reimagining

Martin Turner (Martin Turner)

Keywords: learning_to_compose, martin_turner

This is the third part of a series on Learning to Compose.

When you see something, your eye responds to it. This is purely biological. The eye responds to dark and light, to red and green, and to blue and yellow. Without you thinking about it, your eye flicks around, building up an image of what you see. If you decide to really look, you can do this consciously, but your eye is doing this all the time even when you aren’t thinking about it. The eye’s sensors, which are called ‘rods’ and ‘cones’ have different light sensitivity. The light-shade receptors can operate in much lower light. That’s why things look more monochrome in the dark. Like a camera, the eye opens and closes aperture based on how much light is available.

Going from a mockup to the real thing, we want to reimagine how to portray this classic vehicle
Click for an enlargement


But then something else happens. While your visual cortex is looking after the capturing of the image, another part of your mind gets to work. it recognises the intrinsic shape, colour and lines, and it places things in space, using the information from two eyes working together. It also works through a vast collection of memories, so when you see something which is painted red, you ‘know’ it’s painted red, without having to wonder how you know it. But there’s more. Your mind also applies a layer of meaning and emotion. You go from what the eye sees to what the thing is to what it means to you.

Most photographers start off capturing what is there. After a while, most of us learn to work with colour, light, shade and form to produce a visually pleasing result. But photography genuinely becomes art (or functionally useful, if you’re doing it as part of an advertising campaign) when we communicate what it means to us. A picture of a sunset or a flower is beautiful, but it doesn’t in itself communicate any meaning.

Finding infinity in photography is about discovering how to communicate what a particular scene means to you, rather than just what you see.

In this article, we’re going to explore one journey in reimagining an image.


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David Zukor (bonedr) on April 10, 2022

Really enjoyed the article. The final shot is great. Thanks

Charles M Eshenbaugh (HonestCharlie) on December 4, 2021

Martin, love the article. Very informative. I'm a fan of the old original Land Rovers. A friend on FB just found one over here. It's just a neat old vehicle.

J.P.M. Driessen (johnnie5) on August 29, 2021

Thank you Martin, great writing and photos! For me a lot to think about and evaluate ;-) The final picture is very very nice! kind regards John