Thursday, June 21, 2012

Composition And A Woodchuck


I spotted this head sticking up amongst the tall meadow grass in the evening light. Depending on where you live, this is a woodchuck, groundhog, or whistle pig. I just like this scene for some reason. Let me talk about it briefly...

This photo has not been cropped at all. Obviously, the groundhog does not fill the frame. Many times I think we worry too much about having that frame filling head shot when it comes to wildlife. In doing so, we sometimes miss out. We all know what a groundhog looks like. I would argue that the groundhog is not the sole subject here, but rather the groundhog AND his immediate surroundings. It's also obvious I broke the rule of thirds where the groundhog is concerned. I actually like the rule of thirds most of the time, but in this case, having the groundhog in the center better conveys the vastness of the meadow grass around him. I'm shooting into the setting sun which is usually not the best angle, but I like the effect in this case. You can even see plant particles floating in the air. I determined this was the most pleasing composition to achieve what I wanted to convey.




Now compare the top photo with this one below. I have adjusted the composition to better suit the rule of thirds for the groundhog. But look what happened. Now there is a road sign in the shot and a horse running in the background, both of which are distracting and not very pleasing. In addition, moving the groundhog to the left of the scene doesn't quite have that same effect of being surrounded by the tall grass even though he still is. I have completely changed the feel of the scene just by moving the camera a little bit. For me personally, the top photo is much more pleasing even though I broke a couple of rules because the overall composition trumps the rules I broke.



I simply wanted to convey a couple of things. First, don't get so hung up on trying to get that frame filling head shot that you miss out on a bigger picture. Those eyeball shots are nice, but not always the best photo. And second, composition is everything even if you break some rules in the process.



39 comments:

Carole M. said...

most definately the top shot is the most visually pleasing. I think it's good to stray from the always the same rule book when appropriate. The colour in the field surrounding the ground hog is stupendous! Now I want to know what f-stop you used?

Nancy Claeys said...

I try to compose when I shoot, if I possibly can. And I'll take several of the same shot, but at different angles or distances. Great post and captures, Brian. :)

Linda said...

There are times when I wish I had a day or two just to pick your brain! The advice you give is a great reminder NOT to get hung up on "Rules" and be aware of the whole picture. That first one is magical! BTW, I got some fab shots of the eagles yesterday - even some in flight! They will be appearing soon!

Hanne Bente said...

Great pictures you show of a "meadow". Wishing you a good day. Hanne Bente / hbt.finus.dk

EG CameraGirl said...

Yep, the surroundings do make these photos, I agree. The light is wonderful too.

Buttons said...

Oh I love this you are so right it is nice to break the rules. I break them all the time or maybe I just threw out the rule book. You never know what will come of it. I love the top one. B

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I totally agree with your approach and assessment with these 2 images. I try to get the main subject a bit off center and yet, sometimes, it is best left centered. I really enjoy much of what is happening around my subject as well. very nice..a Whistle Hog...hmmm, never heard of that name before~

Marc Heath said...

Lovely shot and lighting.

Beth said...

awwww, so cute. (:

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I prefer the top shot too. Rules schmuls.

Andee said...

Brian I always enjoy your tips. Thanks for sharing and the little lesson.

Tanya said...

i don't know any of the photography rules so i'm sure i break a bunch, enough to make "photographers" cringe lol....i love that top shot though...it's great! i always notice ground hogs while driving and they are usually right next to the road and it's too late to get a picture as i zoom past. i love those cute little creatures...i've never heard them called whistle pigs before, that's cute!

Jan n Jer said...

Rules are made for breaking!!! LOL...
I completely agree with your views on this shot! It is very pleasing to the eye n the color really pops!

Tricia Hays said...

The lighting is so nice... the groundhog is the added bonus, here, in my opinion... and I don't think I've ever seen foreground bokeh, it's always in the background. Wonderful capture =)

Roberta Josephine said...

HA! Made me smile. Thanks for linking.

bailey-road.com said...

Wonderful shot, Brian!

Lighthousegal said...

I agree, the top shot is most pleasing to the eye and makes the groundhog the focus of the photo.
I love taking photos but am still very much a novice. I enjoy visiting your blog to not only see what photos you have posted, but to learn from your posts too.

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

Rules are made to be broken, Brian, and I break them all the time. I take several photos from different angles and then use the one that is most pleasing to me.
Your first shot is great. I love seeing all the grass around the groundhog.

TexWisGirl said...

i read your title and cringed a bit - was afraid you were going to preach rule of 3rds and whatnot.

a lot of my shots are across our pond, and so often, i take the shot for background foliage and color, reflections, etc. i had one photog follower suggest i crop them to fill the frame with the subject. he missed my intent entirely.

and i do like that foreground bokeh - have only captured it a few times and see it very rarely.

Genie said...

No discussion needed....Number 1. The background almost looks like water with the reflection of a tree in it. And the bokeh at the bottom adds the perfect touch. I LOVE bokeh. The first shot leaves much to the viewer’s imagination where the original one does not flow . Thanks for the nice comment. genie

Carletta said...

I'm glad you broke the rules Brian because I love that first shot of the little whistle pig!
For me, the sunlight was perfect as was your DOF.
Lovely!

Deb said...

my kind of shots Brian...I like the unusual...not the expected photos...

Candy C. said...

What a great post Brian! :) You know what they say, rules are made to be broken and I, for one, am very glad you did!

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood...and a sign? Not much because he doesn't follow the rules like you, sheesh. ;)

Anne Payne said...

The first is definitely the most pleasing! Once again, thanks for the mini lesson in photography :) That's why I enjoy coming over here and checking out your blog! That and the gorgeous photos.

♥Anna & die Tüddel-Ecke♥ said...

Wonderful shot, Brian!

GREAT!!

greetings
Synke

Debbie said...

your right brian!! i don't know the rules so i don't know when i breaking them. the hubs got me a book, i'm "skimming" it!!

i so understand what your saying!

Pamela Gordon said...

The first one is a beautiful capture with brilliant colour. Great shot!

missing moments said...

Good to remind me of this ... great shot!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Thank you for this. I have been fighting with myself for some time trying to always frame or crop my photo to fit the rule of thirds rule. Sometimes I want to center my subject, but fret about it, thinking others will judge it negatively. I like that you showed two examples and how it is okay to break the rules and still have a good image. Very good and informative post!

Amy Burzese said...

Great example and great shots. I do what looks better to me at the time of shooting and then maybe I change it. :)

Ida said...

Very informative and helpful post. I agree with you about the
1st shot being more pleasing to the eye.

Ida said...

Very informative and helpful post. I agree with you about the
1st shot being more pleasing to the eye.

edenhills said...

Love the way you've demonstrated that breaking the rules can be best sometimes!

Meggie said...

I totally agree with you....and, rules are made to be broken. I like to show the big picture, too, along with one that is drawn in tight. I want my audience to have a feel of where I am standing.

Stewart M said...

Hi there - this is an interesting post. I used to joke than cameras were becoming so sophisticated that they would not let you take a picture if the frame did not have something on the rule of thirds sweet spot!

Glad to see I'm wrong.

Stewart M

Modesto Viegas said...

All rules, photographic or not, have exceptions! Usually I start following the rules, but very often I break them! The important is to make the picture attractive and show the vision that the photographer wants to show. Obviously I like most the first photo.
Best regards,

The House at Bluebird Lane said...

Amazing shot! I agree that rules sometimes need to be broken. The composition of the first shot is stunning. I love the colors and how you even captured the particles in the air. Fantastic job! :-)

Roan said...

I much prefer the first shot. Love the bokeh in the foreground. I try to remember the thirds and not to put the subject in the center, but usually opt to go with what I find appealing. You do give excellent advice.