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Essay on composition.

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  • Essay on composition.

    Before I start I am well aware that I don’t have to submit my photos to this or any other on-line aviation photo database so lets not go down that road…….

    I have been wondering for a while now just what this (or any other) on-line aviation photo database is all about and I seem to have more questions than answers.
    Is it about aviation photography or is it about providing images to a stock library?

    What are all those site rules about? Is it about providing a standardised image for the collective or is it about providing the best that one can achieve in aviation photography? To me, they are not one and the same.
    If the answer is a standardised image, then do you really think that someone wants to buy let alone look at a picture of an aircraft close cropped and in the centre of the frame, just like all the others that precedes it?
    No, they want something that is different, something that stands out from all the others.

    If it’s about achieving the best in aviation photography when why ignore the fundamental rules of photography?

    What makes a picture a good picture is the composition. If you don’t believe me ask any grown up photographer (Grown up: someone that does not take pictures of aircraft for publication in an on-line aviation photo database) and they’ll tell you that composition is the key factor in any photograph, so just why does this site (and it’s not alone) insist on having aircraft placed in the centre of the frame?
    Even when you get the subject pixel perfect in the frame a subjective judgement (rejection notice) comes in and says it’s “out of balance”. That’s called composition!
    A rejection statement such as “Bad Composition (bad framing / aircraft not centred)” in a contradiction in terms, centred is not good composition it’s bad composition!

    You place your subject in the frame and put your subject in the context of its surroundings. After all what is the point of saying that this aircraft was photographed at such and such airport if all you see is blue sky or a little piece of an airport building?
    A picture like that only says one thing. Here is a picture of an aircraft, nothing more. Ho hum, just like all the others.

    We seem to hold onto the naive belief that the picture is all about the aircraft; this is wrong. Close-cropped and in the centre is not good photography for aircraft or any other thing. Even train spotters have a better understanding of what makes a good photograph!
    Have a look at the work of a commercial photographer. It’s their work that we should be trying to emulate not each other’s.

    There are other inane notions going around: Monochrome. Only for old aircraft that may have were around in the days of black and white photography. Wrong you can still buy monochrome film in the shops and long may it continue! Do you really need colour to see that it’s a picture of an aircraft?
    Cloning. If you think that cloning is such a sin, then why are we only allowed to remove dust spots and nothing else?

    Have a think before you decide to answer.

  • #2
    I won't answer these interesting questions now, just ask one more:
    Please define a set of rules which define, which photo shall get accepted for publication and which not under the premise, that 30-35 people apply those rules the same way and that potentially 10'000-20'000 photographers understand the rules the same way.

    Good luck!

    My photos on Flickr


    • #3
      In the real world, a picture can have dust spots, it can be soft, AND it can most definitely have grain.

      The problem is the internet and certain sites have trained people to look at an image and say "this isn't good" based on sharpness and the grain factor mostly.

      It's about capturing a moment...not the grain (grain is a part of life) or the sharpness, however sharp is nice.
      Tanner Johnson - Owner
      twenty53 Photography


      • #4
        Sites such as this one have a set of criteria which are adhered to by people who wish to exhibit their pictures therein. Sadly, it is not a site for creative or normal photography. In order for the screeners to be able to accept pictures that comply with the rules, the rules have to be restrictive (relatively) and quite a narrow band of parameters.

        To be able to judge "normal" pictures, using the basic rules of photography including composition and exposure etc, the screeners would have to be world class photographic judges and not just a set of people with a flair for aviation photography and an eye for detail. This is a rather tall order to fullfill.

        Having said that, yes, the parameters on this and other sites ARE very restrictive and kudos must go to those who manage to produce amazing pictures within the restrictive guidelines set.

        In the end, though, it boils down to wether you wish to accept the restrictions and parameters set or not. If you do, then upload with impunity. If not, then be bold and set up your own site for creative and imaginative photography. I, for one, having seen your standard of picture on this site, would be extremely interested in seeing some taken and processed outside the parameters set here. I suspect you may have some that are stunning yet unacceptable here.



        • #5
          Easy said. One absolute TOP-CLASS aviation photographer is Ismael Abeytua. Never heard oh him? Of course not. He would have a rejection rate here or at Anet of roughly 90%. Yet, his photos are STUNNING, in lack of other words. Look here:

          The problem of a website like JPnet is well explained by Andy. I couldn't have put it in better words. If we start accepting pics like that, can you imagine the amount of posts crying for consistency?

          That said, there are websites for photography as an art. Use those sites and I don't mean it disrespectful.
          My photos on Flickr


          • #6
            If people wish to place aviation photos with a stock libary there are several very good ones out there. I myself use two and have sold photos through them both.
            This site is not a stock libary to me, for me it is a showcase of my photos, if i have a photo i like that would not make it here i simply would upload it to my own website.


            • #7
              Most of you guys are missing the point, should close cropped and in the centre be acceptable as a standard for aviation photography?
              Proper composition should be the rule not the exception and if screeners can detect the slightest deviation from the centre then composition should be a doddle for them to master.

              As for the question that was posted earlier, there is no answer, it was an absurd question to start with.

              Centering is so subjective that even the site stalwarts seem hard pressed to defend it. Come on tell me why proper composition does not apply here?


              • #8

                Interesting thread and I think most of us, like you have a wider interest in photography.

                There are photos in the database that are exceptions to the rules and in my opinion there is plenty of flexibility here. A good photo does have a chance even if not centred strictly according to the guidelines. Having said that the rules do not favour artistic photography but those that govern the site know this. There was an artistic category at one time but I guess it was abused by those who did not understand the concept. In my opinion the screeners are familiar with the concepts you discuss and they do allow them but the rules are there to let them reject images that have, in their view gone too far.

                An example of an accepted shot that breaks the rules or pushes the boundaries at least.



                • #9

                  I think these from just the first page of screeners choice's should show that JP is not just...well, "centred" on everything being centred and certainly allows some artistry ?





                  If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


                  • #10
                    I think it comes down to whatever the screener likes or dislikes is what is generally accepted or rejected. IMO.



                    • #11
                      I'm with Brian on this one, there is room for artistry in the photos uploaded here.

                      The fact is, a lot of people don't pull the shot off. Simple mistakes ruin what could have been a good shot.

                      It's funny, when a shot goes up as an SC or a POTW, the amount of copy cat pics that then flow in is amazing, but also disheartening. You can't just offset a plane in silhouette pointing at the sun and think it's an instant classic when its soft.

                      I do think JP allows for artistry to show through, just note the examples above. The shots are usually harder to do correctly, and therefore are harder to get up.

                      And as for Wallaces rant on monochrome....If your going to shoot monochrome it's usually because you want to show tonality and contrast variation in a shot, not because you don't like the colour of the artificial light you shot the plane under. For example the pic above 6094552 by Michal would work in B&W because it has great contrast variation. Using monochrome to hide stuff ups isn't a correct use of it.

                      I really don''t understand what Wallace is on about in some of his arguments about composition. Wallace show us some examples? As you can also see from above there is no need to have the plane in the middle of the picture all the time. But the site is about planes and people who want to see them. If you place that plane in a stunning vista with beautiful light and catch that magic moment, then you have a classic.

                      If you want to shown planes in context on a ramp with buildings, then we have a category for that, it's called airport overview (Ramp etc...). This is a good way of showing planes in context of their surroundings. But planes offset with nothing but blue sky around them, well you know the obvious answer to that one.

                      Wallace if you want to push the envelope, you've got to be prepared for a higher level of scrutiny.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wwshack
                        Come on tell me why proper composition does not apply here?
                        Please, define "proper composition", so that us 30+ screeners know EXACTLY what to accept or reject and that all photographers know, what will be accepted or rejected.

                        Last edited by LX-A343; 2007-11-15, 21:50.
                        My photos on Flickr


                        • #13
                          Well to be honest, one of the biggest rules of photography is the Rule of I would say that defines proper composition.
                          Tanner Johnson - Owner
                          twenty53 Photography


                          • #14
                            ... which means, we should reject all photos not composed with the rule of thirds?
                            My photos on Flickr


                            • #15
                              No one said that...Don't put words into mouths.

                              I think the point is being brought up that some of the most amazing aviation images in the world would get rejected. Which begs the question...why?

                              Also for new people coming into photography and getting their images rejected, it's teaching them that a perfect image has to be sharp, has to be free of noise, and has to be in the middle. I'll never forget the days when I first got into photography years and years ago, I felt that way. Now I probably wouldn't get an image accepted here because of the way I would choose to shoot it, and I get paid to do this!

                              I'm not griping, because I never shoot aviation anymore unless it's a special event, and we all know pictures of people don't belong here.

                              I think the reason this thread was brought up because someone learned what a proper photograph consisted of, applied it, and it was not accepted here. He has a valid question (even though it has been discussed thoroughly before.)
                              Tanner Johnson - Owner
                              twenty53 Photography