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More to composition than meets the eye 27. Oktober 2010
Von whiteheat - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
A word on expectations here. This book will NOT help you answer the question, "how do I create great (as in real life emotive or iconic style) photographs?" The book does not teach you how to think creatively or help you 'see' what would make a great photograph from the world around you. Neither will it help you with 'art' style photography (creating photographs of anything that would not normally or naturally occur in real life). At least not directly or at first. What it may help you with, is giving you the technical know how or background knowledge to help you create a 'good' photograph once you already have the creative spark or you are already able to 'see' what would make a 'good' photograph. It will help you translate what is in your mind's eye in to a photographic image. The point here is that the book only illustrates enabling principles, not how to be creative or gain a mindset that allows you to be creative.

This is a great book if you want to know what principles are used in photographic composition. The book is written by an old hand at photography, Andreas Feininger, who practiced photography as both a hobby and a profession, so you definitely get the feeling that he knows what he's talking about. The book is now long out of print and the content does occasionally reference film based cameras, equipment and media. None the less, the principles of composition remain the same and as such, the book does outline most, if not all of the principles involved in photographic composition. Feininger also challenges some percieved or widely accepted wisdoms, citing that there are no hard and fast rules to photographic composition, only guidelines, which can be used or discarded as the reader sees fit.

Feininger delivers his message in 'an armchair by the hearth' style chat, which makes it eminently readable even if you have no interest in photography. The author's breadth and depth of experience stand out in an authoritative way without being condescending or high brow about it. The images and visual material he uses to illustrate his ideas, hit the mark on each occasion. As a result, the language, constructs and visual aids used make it very easy to read and gain an understanding of the point being made. This in turn makes it suitable for the novice, enthuiast and professional alike.

The only constructive criticism I have, is that in some of Feininger's explanations as to why any particular composition 'works', there is insufficient explanation or more usually, not enough depth of explanation as to why that particular compositional technique works or does not work, depending on the situation or context. On one or two occasions after having read Feininger's description and explanation of a particular compositional technique, I found myself thinking, "...so say you, but I just don't see it", or "...ok, but why is that so, what is the reason for that?".

In conclusion then, this is a great book purely for learning what composition in photography is all about and outlining what the principles are and what techniques can be used to compose a photograph. It is a little outdated now because it was written in the days of film cameras but this does not detract in any way from the concepts that are put across as photography is still photography, regardless of the media used to capture images. I can recommend this book to anyone who wants a layman's explanation and narrative of photographic compositional principles.
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Complete, but overly academic 8. Juli 2011
Von Alan Shi - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As a book purely on photographic composition, in many ways, this is actually better than a lot of modern books on the subject. Many books written on composition today contain a lot of nice photographs (many are great coffee table books!), but the text is usually quite shallow, and there's very little that can be learned from within. This book is quite the opposite. There are relatively few photographs (none are particularly exciting), and quite a lot of text. You might learn a few things from this book, but there's nothing inspirational about the text (or pictures) and the reading can be monotonous.

The key message in this book is one you'll find repeated in all books on composition: powerful photographs are a result of carefully organizing elements within the frame and eliminating distracting elements. There is a good description of the importance of exploration of different viewpoints, isolating the subject, and a whole host of different compositional devices (colour, contrast, line, perspective, lighting, etc). However, this book falls short of explaining how/why these devices are effective in establishing a mood or message for the image. Feininger hints at this in a few topics, but the reader is really left guessing in most cases.

This last point is what bothers me most about books on composition. I have yet to read a book dedicated to composition that does much more than just describe different elements of visual design. Maybe I'm just expecting too much, but I think that most people looking for books on composition are really looking for information on how to make better photographs. A book on composition alone isn't helpful if you don't know how/why to use these elements. To this end, I found Barnbaum's "The Art of Photography" did an excellent job describing how to evoke emotion and express a message in a photograph (admittedly this is not a "composition" book, though).

For someone looking for more depth in the description of compositional elements than what most modern books provide, this would be a decent choice, as long as you don't mind the textbook-style writing and relatively few photographic examples. Don't expect breathtaking images, but you'll get a decent dose of theory.
Most helpful in thinking about compostion 31. Juli 2013
Von Rob - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I bought this book, along with Feininger's "Photographic Seeing," after reading a thread on Photo.net. "Principles of Composition" is not really about hard and fast "rules." Indeed, it will challenge them; including some in other, more recent books I've read on the subject. Take statements like, "The entire theory of leading lines - lines that allegedly lead the viewer's eye to the so-called center of interest in the picture - is a fallacy." (See p. 19, citing scientific studies that show that the eye will seek out the part of the picture that arouses the greatest interest, irrespective of the lines chosen by the photographer.)

In a short book, only 136 pages, Feininger illustrates both the principles, "guidelines" might be an even better word, and how they can work for - or against - effective composition. The explanation of the principles is succinct but understandable. In some cases, he provides examples of several different compositions of the same subject and asks the reader to choose which one s/he likes best and to consider why that choice was made, or describes how one image emphasizes the solidity of an object while another image emphasizes its dynamic qualities. In short, the book asks one to think about what one wants to accomplish when making an image and only then suggests ways to accomplish the intent.

With a copyright date of 1973, my copy does suffer a bit from yellowing of paper, and the reproduction of the images is not of the quality one would expect today. These are only minor defects, I think, and don't detract from the points that the author makes. It is too bad that this book, and Feininger's "Photographic Seeing," haven't been re-released with contemporary quality publishing.
Another oldy but a goody 23. Juli 2013
Von Jim Doty, Jr. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is going to be like my review of Feininger's other books. He was one of the best photographic writers of his time.

First the bad news. By current standards, the reproduction quality of the photos just doesn't stand up to today's standards. That's just how things were in the 1970s. And there aren't many color images.

That is not a reflection on the images themselves. I am sure many of the originals would be impressive printed with today's high gloss photo book standards. So don't be put off by the reproduction quality.

Now the good news. What makes this book stand out (and any other book you can find by Feininger) is the excellent information. This book has no digital information of course, but photography is still photography. It is all about lighting and composition and dozens of technical and artistic decisions both great and small that make or break an image, whether we are talking about film or digital sensors. In fact, many of the older photography books have a lot more information than a lot of current books. I find gems of wisdom and information in Feininger's books that are hard to come buy in a lot of current books.

This is one of the best "old school" introductions to composition that you can find. After you read and absorb this book, I would suggest you follow up with The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman.
Anyone with any camera may take great photographs 23. Dezember 2012
Von Eric W. Berg III MD - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I borrowed this book from an Army library in Korea in 1975 while awaiting my first "real" camera, an Olympus OM-1, to arrive from the Navy Exchange catalog. I didn't read the book, I devoured it. Having not seen the book the past 35 years, I've forgotten the words, but not the principles. I recall Feininger saying something like "anyone can take good pictures, even with a Brownie (or was it Instamatic?) camera if they pay attention to composition." Or words to that effect. His point was that no matter the equipment, cheap or expensive, it's the technique that matters. I'm going to buy this book for a relative whom I gifted with a pricey SLR camera for Christmas. But I'll want to borrow it from him when he's finished reading it.
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