I choose the topic of "fountain" to start a discussion and raise some questions about photographic composition. I hope the experienced photobloggers will contribute with comments or their own blogs in response.
My motivation for this blog is a self-paced course on composition which I recently started (unfortunately after I had already captured some of these images).
This blog focuses on two questions about composition:
- what makes a fountain interesting? water, figure(s) and their inter-relation
- what makes the photo of a fountain interesting? focal points, ratios, positive/negative space, color...
The blog is structured into two categories: dominating figures and dominating water.
When the water dominates, the figure can literally get drown out, and when the figure dominates, the question arises - is it still a fountain or just a sculpture?
Case 1: Dominating Figures
Let's explore the composition of the fountain itself in photo #1.
The mammoth dominates, as I suppose it should, it was a massive creative and it needs a massive form to stand out against the 2000 meter tall mountains in the background. However, the water spouts seem disportionally small so that the overall effect is not "this is a fountain" but more "this is a green sculpture set in water".
In the photographic composition, there is not enough contrast between the green mammoth and the green mountain in the background. This is partially resolved in photo #2. In order to achieve a better composition the edge element - distracting tree - would have to be eliminated which would also remove the mountains.
However the story of "pure nature as in pre-historic times" is not possible with a modern building in the background.
In photo #3 I explore the question of the photographic composition. The figure is massive again, however, the water spout is in absolutely correct proportion and position to the figure.
Now we can look more closely at the objects in the photographic composition: such as the juxaposition of a person wearing a jacket of exactly the same color tone of the fountain and the dominating complimentary colors of red and green. That figure is looking at the fountain so the focal point is drawn back again to the main object. The edge element - the woman in the right corner - is mercifully dressed all in black and thus does not create a distraction.
Indeed, the people in the photo compliment the subject of the fountain which is a person.
Case 2: Dominating Water
Sometimes the water is so dominating it overwhelms everything and prevents any kind of photographic composition.
In photo #4 the fountain pool is too large for the figures contained inside. The central figure is drowned out by the water cannon which shoots a spout which is 5-times as tall as the figure.
Contrast this water spout with the spout of water from photo #3. In photo #5 you see the "drowning out" effect of the massive water from the main figure also interferes with the smaller figures and their spouts.
From a photographic composition perspective photo #5 wasn't able to achieve a focal point - the people walking away from the fountain are almost in-line with the head of the main fountain, the castle building in the background as well as the white vase on the fountain wall distracts as well.
As a fountain, Buckingham Fountain in Chicago USA has a good balance between the water and sculptural elements. However the massive size of the fountain itself makes it difficult to capture and the building in the background make the composition very difficult. I do not think I was successful to capture it well.
In photo #6 the water spouts from the figures as well as on the centerpiece of the fountain do not overwhelm the overall composition of the fountain although water is the dominating feature.
From a photographic composition perspective, the skyscrapers in the background are cut off and do not fit into the frame and there's an antennea which is distracting. Thus, neither the buildings nor the fountain can be established as the subject. In addition, the top spout of white water does not have enough contrast against the sky and gets lost.
In photo #7 the building in the background supplies the necessary contrast for the top water spout but has composition issues of its own such as the cut-off of the fountain wall near the center of the photo.
In photo #7 the water as well as the main sculptural part of the fountain dominate the photo and the buildings. The buildings in background do not compete as much with the fountain since they are not as tall as in photo #6. Nonetheless the composition is still not clear about what is the subject, and of course the lighting could be better.
To conclude, I am still learning about composition. There may be many things I have missed in this discussion which might be important, if so, I would appreciate your ideas and comments.