basic photography art composition and computer principles
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Basic photography— Art, composition, and computer principles. AEE 211 February 24, 2003. What makes these images effective?. Overview. Basic composition Mood and atmosphere Qualities of a good photo Basic composition Improving composition Working with the computer Files Scanning

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  • Basic composition
    • Mood and atmosphere
    • Qualities of a good photo
    • Basic composition
    • Improving composition
  • Working with the computer
    • Files
    • Scanning
    • Printing
creating mood
Creating mood
  • Overall feel of a picture
  • Created by
    • Perspective
    • Color
    • Focus (isolation and distance)
    • Weather and light
      • Sunrise/sunset
      • Misty, rainy days
      • Sun vs. overcast
characteristics of a good photo
Characteristics of a good photo
  • Shape
  • Line
  • Pattern
  • Texture
  • Size and space
  • Tends to be noticed first, before texture and pattern
  • Easiest and most recognizable composition tool
    • Shape helps create a mood/character for the picture
    • Search for the unconventional or surprise shape in objects
creating shape
Creating shape
  • Common—
    • use backlighting to create a silhouette
  • Uncommon—
    • side lighting with simple background
    • underexpose to focus on shape vs. color or texture
  • Lines create
    • Shape
    • Pattern
    • Depth
    • Perspective
  • Line leads the eye
    • Focal point/subject
    • Diagonals
    • S-curves
line creates perspective
Line creates perspective
  • Lines into the horizon show depth and perspective for the viewer
  • Vanishing point
    • Point at which lines converge and vanish in to the horizon
    • Place off-center
  • Close-ups decrease perspective while wide-angles can exaggerate it
  • Orderly combination of shape, line, or color
  • Pattern can help echo the character of a photo
  • Catching attention
    • Random patterns
    • Slight variation in a pattern
    • Pattern in common places
  • Adds realism (sense of touch) to a photo
  • Sharp (hard) light highlights texture
  • Especially important for close-up and b/w shots
  • Side lighting highlights texture
  • Most portraits use front lighting to decrease texture on skin
using light for depth
Using light for depth
  • Sometimes hard light is inappropriate for illustrating shape and depth
  • Soft side lighting can give a sense of shape and depth without high contrast
    • Portraits
    • Still life
    • When shape/depth is more important that texture
size and space
Size and space
  • 2D pictures distort depth, relative size, and distances
    • Include reference item
    • Include parts of the fore- or background
    • Use a frame
    • Be creative—maybe you want to distort
giving perspective
Giving perspective
  • Linear—Lines which converge into the distance
  • Diminishing size—objects further away are smaller
  • Aerial perspective—atmosphere creates haze, which lightens objects farther away
depth and perspective
Depth and perspective
  • Overlapping forms—overlapping objects in a picture create depth and distance
  • Selective focusing—focusing on the foreground and blurring the background
improving composition
Improving composition
  • Rule of thirds
  • Simplicity
  • Angle and perspective
  • Framing
have a strong center of interest
Have a strong center of interest
  • Take pictures at different angles with different compositions
  • Work around the rule of thirds
  • One strong center of interest
    • Foreground or background should be simple or complimentary to center of interest
    • Include foreground or background for sense of isolation, distance, depth, etc.
  • Avoid mergers
cut offs
Cut offs
  • Avoiding cutting out parts or wholes of people or main subjects
  • Avoiding cutting out the path of a moving object
working with angles
Working with angles
  • Low angles
    • Clear sky backdrop
    • Accentuate movement or action
  • High angle
    • Eliminate cloudy sky
  • 45 degree angles will cut glare
  • Avoid centered horizons
  • Adds depth
  • Should fit theme
  • Helps subject fill the frame
  • Can block unwanted subjects from view
  • Watch focus on foreground
    • Focus on foreground in landscape
    • Focus on subject in portraits
    • Auto-focus should be centered on main topic
  • Balance color and weight in a picture
  • Formal and informal
  • Symmetrical and asymmetrical


fill the frame
Fill the frame
  • Would this picture look better if I was closer?
    • Focus on subject
    • Detail
  • Start far and move closer
  • Fill the frame with objects that “fit”
  • Long range shots provide depth and perspective
digital issues
Digital issues
  • File formats
  • Scanning
  • Printing
native file formats
Native file formats
  • Format used by computer program
  • Retains ability to edit within native program
  • Unreadable on WWW or graphics programs
  • Product families (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.)
  • Examples
    • .ppt, .doc, .mix
nonnative file formats
Nonnative file formats
  • General formats that multiple programs can open
    • .gif, .jpg, .tif, .bmp
  • Formatting cannot be undone within a program – picture must be reedited
  • Save pictures in both native and nonnative file formats
  • Quality of the pictures on a screen, print, or file
    • DPI = dots per inch (printer)
    • PPI = pixels per inch (screen)
  • More resolution means higher file size
  • Different file types contain more or less information (resolution)
tagged image file format
Tagged Image File Format
  • Very flexible and can be opened by most programs
  • Saves as pixels
  • Scan as a .tiff or as a native file format if possible
eps files vector
EPS files (vector)
  • Only some programs use: FreeHand, Illustrator, CorelDraw
  • Saved as separate images not as pixels – no resolution lost with resizing
  • Use the “Options” button under PRINT in PageMaker to save as EPS
graphical interchange format
Graphical Interchange Format
  • Great for the WWW
  • 8-bit – 256 colors (indexed color)
  • Usually set at 72 pixels for the WWW
  • Allows for transparency
  • NOT used in printing
portable network graphic
Portable Network Graphic
  • 24-bit (millions of colors)
  • Transparency with jagged edges
  • Alternative to the .gif
  • Newer computer programs only
joint photographic experts group
Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • 24-bit color
  • Lossy compression
  • You can usually set your compression here
  • Best for WWW pictures
portable document format
Portable Document Format
  • Embeds all data into a single file
    • Fonts
    • Format
    • Pictures
    • Text
  • Works on any computer with reader
  • Standardizes your document
  • Work on WWW and as attachments
postscript files
Postscript files
  • Will print on any postscript printer
  • Do not need program to output data
  • Print to file
  • Make sure you know what kind of printer you are dealing with
general rules
General rules
  • Scan a photo as a .tiff file
  • For web pictures, use .jpg
  • For print pictures, use .tiff or vector format at a minimum of 300 dpi
  • When possible, scan/save the picture at the size to be used – 300 dpi will look poor if enlarged
rgb color
RGB Color
  • Red-green-blue
  • Monitors and scanners determine level of the three to put on a pixel
  • Light directly into the eye = cannot look the exact on paper
  • Out of gamut (cannot be printed in CMYK format)
cmyk mode
  • Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (black)
  • Commercially output documents or special printers
    • Four-color printing
    • Process colors
  • Color bounces off object and onto your eye
  • Get a process book or color guide to select (Pantone, Tru-Match, Agfa)
comparing the two
Comparing the two
  • RGB have smaller file sizes
  • RGB has some features that the other does not
  • Convert between the modes at the end or you will lose information
understanding resolution
Understanding resolution
  • Resolved to our eyes = realism and accuracy
  • Printer = DPI
  • Monitor = bit depth (colors displayable)
    • 72 ppi is good enough for electronic photos
understanding pixels
Understanding pixels
  • Picture elements (dots) per inch
  • Standard monitor displays 640 by 480 pixels
    • 640 by 480
    • 1024 by 768
  • More pixels requires more RAM, which may mean lower bit depth