Thursday, 6 May 2010

Composition: David Prakel

Composition is another book by David Prakel in the basics photography series and as with the previous book that I reviewed Lighting, the organisation of the book, in common with others in the series, is very well thought out and logical. The book is broadly split into six areas: The Basics, Formal Elements, Organising Space, Organising Time, Application and Originality.

Starting with the basics there is a general discussion of the need for composition. One particular statement impressed me in the introduction.

Photography should be like jazz - an improvisatory form of music where personal expression is everything but that expression is based on a solid structure of learned chords and chord progression

I like that. With the solid backing you can then experiment within the structure and you can bend it and break it too. The basics section then goes on to discuss such things as the rule of thirds, perspective and viewpoint.

The next section talks about formal elements that pre-date photography. Line, shape, form texture, colour and so on. Again very easy to follow and fairly comprehensive encompasing ideas such as figure ground reversal and implied lines. The section on organising space is all about framing, balance, symmetry and depth of field and then organising time is about how to create an impression of the passing of time. There is a section on application which discusses how various compositional techniques are applied to different forms of photography.

Throughout these sections the book is illustrated by photos not only by the author but also from photographers like James Nachtwey and Cartier Bresson.

Overall its a pretty good read, its not quite as comprehensive as The Photographers Eye but having said that, it has one advantage over it. Composition will actually fit in a coat pocket. Its just a little larger than a paperback, which makes it a lot more convenient for reading on the move.

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