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The Art of Black and White Photography, 2nd Edition by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann

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16 What Is Pictorial Composition?

The space in a photo resembles the tones of a melody that produce a composition. An image is by no means successful simply if everything shown is razor sharp; what is crucial for the quality of a painting or photograph is how the individual pictorial elements relate to one another. An inexperienced viewer looks mostly at the content of an image, but the image is based on an abstract, basic structure that dictates whether its contents will elicit a strong or boring, chaotic or orderly impression—and that is what pictorial composition is all about.

If a classical painter such as Caspar David Friedrich worked on his compositions by sketching various possibilities, we photographers have to proceed in an entirely ...

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