Book Review: Photographic Composition Principles of Image Design by Albrecht Rissler

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Albrecht Rissler worked as a professor of drawing and illustration at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany. The subject of image composition, I read, “often informed by photography, is a key topic in his courses on illustration and in his publications.”

Isn’t image composition a bit of a big word when it comes to photography? For what photographers basically do is to frame. As John Szarkowski once penned, the photographer’s “central problem is a simple one: what shall he include, what shall he reject? The line of decision between in and out is the picture’s edge. While the draughtsman starts with the middle of the sheet, the photographer starts with the frame. The photograph’s edge defines content.”

Albrecht Rissler defines composition as “bringing together individual elements into a cohesive whole” and does not differentiate between painting, drawing, graphic design, and potography. In all of these fields, he writes, “composition pertains to the organization of two-dimensional elements within a predefined image-area.”

Agreed yet I do prefer “framing” to “composing” when trying to characterise what a photographer does. But let us not split hairs for I do find Photographic Composition an inspiring work.

Light Spaces

Light Spaces page 128

Interesting perspectives, I thought, when leafing for the first time through this tome. Quite some of them I liked, there weren’t any that I immediately rejected. Of the ones that made me pause, “Light Spaces” on pages 128/129 particularly fascinated me. Both photos depict scenes from the beach. From the accompanying text I learn that the beach on page 128 is near Conil de la Frontera in Andalusia, the one on page 129 is on the French coast. “The sand reflects the intense summer sun. The farther away the people are from the camera, the more they are enveloped in fine haze. In both compositions the sky takes up two-thirds of the image area and the horizon line is shifted toward the bottom.”

What I thought particularly fascinating was the effect these two pics had on me. At first glance it felt like this was probably the same beach. When however I started to really look I saw that the beach in Andalusia was surrounded by hills (and by “groups of trees, sand dunes, and a small hamlet with a tall tower” the accompanying text reads – I’m not sure I would have been able to identify all that without the text) and that there was no visible horizon on the French coast beach.

Light Spaces pg. 129

Light Spaces pg. 129

One of the more intriguing experiences was to discover how the combination of words and image made me see the image differently. Take for instance the photo taken in Bettmeralp that shows a house and a passing cloud. Without taking note of the words that accompany this pic I simply noticed the house and I noticed the cloud, I did not connect the two, it did not occur to me that “they belong together”. I’m not even sure that they do. When however I read the heading “pairs” I all of a sudden saw a connection. And I liked what the words had made me see.

Photographic Composition is divided into the following chapters: “Why compose?”, “The Image Area”, “Diagonals”, “Perspectives”, “Lattices”, “Cropping”, “Contrast”, “Light and Shadow”, “Sharpness and Blur”, “Texture”, “The Right Moment”.

Albrecht Rissler provides with Photographic Composition a most useful study in awareness. I highly recommend it.

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Photographic Composition
Principles of Image Design
by Albrecht Rissler

For more information and to purchase the book: www.rockynook.com/shop/photography/photographic-composition/

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NATAN DVIR @ Anastasia Photo

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NATAN DVIR
March 4 – April 30, 2015

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 5th
6:30-8:30 PM

Anastasia Photo
166 ORCHARD STREET NEW YORK, NY 10002

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DOUG KEYES @ KLOMPCHING GALLERY

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DOUG KEYES: PORTRAIT
March 5 – April 11, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, March 5, 6pm–9pm

The genesis for this series was the Chuck Close catalog, that Keyes photographed in 1998 for the widely applauded Collective Memory series. With this image, multiple exposures resulted in two portraits that represented Close’s body of work. Keyes now continues this focus on portraits made by other artists and documentarians.

Sourcing images from books and the internet, and often inspired by portraits experienced in person, Keyes selects images that collectively create an overall representation of each artist’s portraiture work. The resulting photographs reshape the work of such iconic names as Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Martin Schoeller and Frida Kahlo. At times, his work conjures up more than the purely visual, such as with Nick Cave (2014), which pierces the viewer with a cacophony of suggested sound and movement, gloriously melded together.

KLOMPCHING GALLERY
111 Front Street
Suite 206
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Lala Meredith-Vula @ GX Gallery

Haystacks Kosova, 2006, Silver Gelatin Print

Haystacks Kosova, 2006, Silver Gelatin Print

Lala Meredith-Vula: Folk Art, Sex Fantasy, Kosova Myths, London Diaries
3 – 21 March 2015

This collection showcases a selection of black and white photographs taken over a period spanning more than thirty years. Some of the works explore cultural transitions; exposing realities in a country effected by communism, while others starkly explore and celebrate the female body. All the works together, drawn from across these three decades, wonderfully showcase the successful career of this internationally acclaimed artist so far.

GX Gallery
43 Denmark Hill
London
SE5 8RS

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Broomberg & Chanarin @ Foam

i d 022 2013 c adam broomberg  oliver chanarinBroomberg & Chanarin – To Photograph The Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light
20 March 2015 – 3 June 2015

For their exhibition To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, internationally highly acclaimed artists Adam Broomberg (South Africa, 1970) and Oliver Chanarin (Great Britain, 1971) lead viewers through a meandering and disturbing history lesson on the relationship between photography and race.

Foam
Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam

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MATTHEW SWARTS @ Kopeikin Gallery

unnamedMATTHEW SWARTS
Processing:Beth and the Alternatives
March 7 – April 18, 2015

Reception with the artist
Saturday, March 7th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

The cliché that time heals all wounds might be true, but, for Matthew Swarts, after a painful end to a long-term relationship, the passing of time only created a sense of confused detachment, especially when looking at his old photographs.
So Swarts decided to use those images to process the end of the relationship, creating his series “Beth.” In Beth, slowly erasing his ex-girlfriend is a metaphor for loss, but it’s also about ownership. The original portraits were a collaborative process. Now that she’s gone, he doesn’t feel the same ownership and is remaking the photographs.

Kopeikin Gallery | 2766 South La Cienega Blvd | Los Angeles | CA | 90034

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MARKO MODIC @ Jakopič Gallery

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MARKO MODIC: THE FIFTH ELEMENT
Opening: 24 February 2015 at 7 p.m. – 26 April 2015

THE FIFTH ELEMENT overview photographic exhibition is Modic’s mid-career retrospective, bringing a refined and conceptual curatorial selection of photographs and photomontages, taken from his vast oeuvre which has been accumulating over the last three decades.
The fifth element is present in all of the series grouped around the four elements (with the structure of these series being largely based on ‘pure’ photographs). It is apparently invisible, seamlessly integrated, yet it calls into question their identity: as a result of both intense abstracting and the previewed photomontages, the line between pure photography and photomontage is sometimes completely blurred. It might be said that this is the aim of the exhibition: to invite viewers to enter the artist’s widely imaginative and, quite often, surrealist world which originates in his ability to find magic in the most obscure details of everyday phenomena.

Jakopič Gallery, Slovenska cesta 9, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Portfolio ShowCase Volume 8 @ The Center for Fine Art Photography

 © Liz Steketee

© Liz Steketee

Portfolio ShowCase Volume 8
May 1, 2015 – June 30, 2015

Reception with the Juror, Gordon Stettinius, June 5 from 6-9pm

All Selected Artists|Thomas Alleman, Anne Berry, Larry Chait, Daniel Coburn, Michael Donnor, Jackie Heitchue, Jaime Erin Johnson, Peter Leighton,
Clark Mishler, Wendy Simmons, Michal Solarski, Liz Steketee, Paul Thulin, Alison Turner, and Zhe Zhu.

The Center for Fine Art Photography | 400 North College Ave. | Fort Collins | CO | 80524

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Robert Shults @ Art.Science.Gallery.

unnamedRobert Shults: The Superlative Light
March 7 – April 11, 2015

Opening Reception with the Artist: Saturday, March 7, 7-10pm

The Superlative Light presents Robert Shults’ awestruck photographic tour of this hallowed facility located in the bowels of the University of Texas where an elite group of scientists conduct experiments that are impossible to imagine — daily releases of a force that constitutes the brightest light known to exist in the entire universe. The Petawatt laser can produce, for a fraction of a second, more power than the entire U.S. electrical grid.

Art.Science.Gallery.
916 Springdale Road, Building 2 #102
Austin, Texas 78702

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Book Review: One Year on Kythera by Kristina Williamson

Swimming

I have always been fascinated by Greek culture. Growing up in Queens there is a very vibrant Greek community with events in pretty much every neighborhood where everyone is free to join in and sample the food and ethnic experience. When I got a chance to check out Kristina Williamson’s book: One Year On Kythera I immediately jumped at the chance to review it because what better way to learn about such a fascinating people than to completely immerse yourself in their world.

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That is precisely what Kristina did. Kythera is a small island in Greece that boasts a population of less than three thousand. You can definitely consider it rural and very down to earth. If you imagine villages, farms, fisherman, and humble folks living a simple life then you would not be disappointed by the images in this book. Kristina captures a refreshing way of life that unfortunately does not exist in big western cities. You can smell the fresh air and food leap off the page. Much of the landscape captured within this book has been unchanged by man, which is such a great positive when you think about how impossibly industrial most of the world has become.

Christos

Christos

That spirit of industry led to a mass exodus from the island of Kythera, which left it as sparsely populated as it is now. However, when you look at the photos that contain relics of a life gone by you can’t help but appreciate the fact that the island may not succumb to the ills of the modern world and instead thrive on the people who remained as well as the community that lives that elusive simple life. Within the pages of this gorgeously presented book you will find answers to questions you may not even have known you had. Truly, what is life like in Greece? We hear things. We either immediately assume the whole land is covered in economic turmoil or that it’s very much like the island of Mypos (that’s for you Perfect Stranger fans) The truth is that through the photos in this book we get a glimpse of a life that has sustained this populace for centuries. Yes, there are modern conveniences but there is also the experience of living off of your land and upholding sacred traditions through religious ceremony or cultural rites of passage.

Ruins

Ruins

I love the feel, format, and texture of this book. It’s a perfect coffee table book and conversation piece. The photos are presented in a clear way with no distractions. Kristina does a great job documenting life on this island through her eyes, which she admits took some getting used to. I’m glad she dived in full force when many other folks would quit just faced with the truth that you’re a stranger in a strange land. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of culture and photography. It’s a great combination of craft and adapting to a new situation while trying to find the craft in your present surrounding. This is a great slice of life book that you should add to your library.

 

Cover

One Year on Kythera
by Kristina Williamson

For more information and to purchase the book: www.oneyearonkythera.com

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