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Photographic Composition Paperback – May 1, 1990

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817454276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817454272
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

This is a very well organized and concise book on photocomposition.
Armen Jamkotchian
The book is a good reference book for someone taking coourses in photographic composition.
James Phelps
This book is incomplete, rather misleading, out of date, boring to look at and to read.
T. Campbell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Vladimir Antimonov on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a student of photojournalizm in Moscow, Russia, I looked for the most complete book on photographic composition that is available. I had studied one book on the subject by the russian author, but knowing that photography in the US is much more developed and professional I was striving to get a book by a professional photographer.

I was disappointed by the book "Photographic Composition" by Tom Grill for a number of reasons:

1. It does not cover all important compositional elements, and those that it covers are not explained in full detail. It does not explain:

- how elements with the similar shapes, similar sizes or similar tone interact with each other,

- the reverse perspective effect and its uses,

- why right and left sides of the photograph differ and why, how it can be used on practice,

- how to balance "weight" of different elements of the photograph, it touches it briefly and furthermore provides an incorrect example,

- difference between compositional center and the center of interest, how to balance them if they are in different parts of the photo (does not match each other)

- all signs of perspective, it does not say anywhere that overlapping of objects is a clear sign of perspective (trivial as it may sound, it still should be marked in any complete work, especially when the author covers other three elements)

- and much much more.

2. It does not use photographs of the best masters to illustrate the topic, neither does it show how composition works in art, which I believe is very important.

3. Most examples are in color, while most ideas on composition are best explained using B&W photographs.

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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By LT Beasimer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a serious hobbyist with no formal training, I was a bit concerned about how much I could really learn from this book. My experience comes primarily from reading text books, how to books, and from hands on experience. I already compose my shots and have had some training on composition with an online class I took a few years back. I frequently shoot images with my Digital SLR as posted on and want to improve my compositional skills.

I debated purchasing this book for about a year. The reviews worth considering seem to take opposite view points adding to my uncertainty. Leaving me to wonder what I would gain from reading this book, I left it listed on my wish list. When I received this book as a birthday gift, there was no question that I wanted to read it.

Like most of the Amphoto books I have seen or read, this book stays true to the standard formula. The topics are written in an uncomplicated manner and well organized. Inspiring color and black and white images are paired with each topic to help educate the reader.

Understanding composition is an important difference between a so-so picture and a great shot. The language of composition is explained with five main categories; Expressing Ideas, Graphic Controls, Photographic Controls, Color Controls, and Total Control. The topics within these categories touch on the basic associated principles.

Graphic Controls discusses the rule of thirds, lines, shapes, pattern, and the golden rectangle. While I understand the basic concept of the golden rectangle, this book failed to clearly explain the idea. I can see where people would easily be confused by the provided explanation.

Photographic Controls and Color Controls discuss topics that controlled with the camera or filters.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Armen Jamkotchian on June 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a very well organized and concise book on photocomposition. It has a very thoughtful progression of the covered subjects, taking the reader from basic concepts of graphic design to the practical presentational and psychological principals. From the 5 main chapters of the book I found chapters 2 "Graphic Controls" and chapter 5 "Total Control" the best chapters from the point of view of richness of presentation and its practical value. The other chapters seemed to me shallower and less focused. I share the dissatisfaction of other reviewers with the presented photographs. Even though I understand that those photographs are carefully selected not for their extreme photographic value, but rather for their association with the subject of the topic they are presented for, I assume that the authors could had done a better job of finding or making more appealing pictures. Without a rich set of photographs this books seems to be a bit more "theoretical" then a book on photography, I believe, should be.
On the other note, I noted that despite the very careful selection and sequence of presentation of the main subjects, most of them are not covered as deeply as they deserve to. This being a disadvantage on one hand could easily be considered as an advantage, because the book does not overwhelm the reader with details, leaving enough space for creativity.
Overall I consider the book to be very useful and educational, especially for high end amature and beginner professional photographers.
Despite some criticism presented, I still rate it with 5 stars, which I think the book fully deserves.
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