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The Barnet Book of Photography A Collection of Practical Articles

For by substituting a narrower angle lens


[Illustration:

Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

In this we have one of the first rules in composition, namely, that the principal object should be near the centre, and the next important near to, and as it were supporting it, and no object likely to attract the eye should be so near the edge of the picture as to make us instantly conscious of the boundaries and wish to see more beyond.

But now if in compliance with the supposed request we had made our drawing as in fig. 5, might it not at once be felt by the observer that we had put the objects in a central position _intentionally_, which is equivalent to saying that we had allowed our endeavour to observe the rule just laid down to betray itself. Fig. 2 is preferable as being only just sufficiently symmetrical to avoid being unsymmetrical, which is an example of what has already been said about the necessity of observing rules of composition just so far as to escape the appearance of having broken them.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

If this rule is right as regards voluntarily drawing a picture, it is equally so in the case of a photograph, but instead of deliberately placing things in such and such positions,

we attain the same end by moving the camera and selecting our point of view so that the objects come into the positions desired.

Now suppose then, we have done this, but in doing it we are quite unable to prevent other objects coming into the field of view and occupying undesirable places near the margins of the picture, as for instance in fig. 6. Here we are brought to consider another rule or principle in composition, namely, that there must be one and only one chief object in the picture, whereas in fig. 6, apart from the gate and tree on the one side and the windmill on the other attracting attention to the margins of the picture, these same objects arrest the attention quite as much as the church, and we feel the eye wandering about from one to the other and missing the sensation of centralization and rest which fig. 2 gives.

If we were drawing or painting we should put in what we want and then stop, we should omit or ignore what we did not require, but in photography our powers in this direction are limited, and hence we must as far as possible select those views, and only accept such, as comply with what we feel to be right.

The angle of view included by different lenses is an auxiliary not to be neglected, for by substituting a narrower angle lens, that is, one of longer focus, we may cut off or leave out undesirable objects which the shorter focus lens might include. Then again, when the print is finished we can after careful consideration cut off what would have been better left out, for it will be better to have a picture half the size well composed, than double the number of inches with a distracting and unsatisfactory arrangement of objects, hence with many most successful workers it is no uncommon thing to take quite a small portion of a negative, and either print it as it is or else enlarge it up to the desired size, but mere size will reckon as nothing as compared with pleasing composition.

If it is inexpedient to let the principal object or group of objects occupy the exact centre of the picture, measured from left to right, it is equally so if the centre be measured from top to bottom, and hence we may formulate the rule (to be broken perhaps later when we are strong enough to be independent of guiding) that the horizon should not be allowed to come midway between the top and the base of the picture.


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