P.W. Creighton

It's The Unanswered Questions That Haunt Us...

High Dynamic Composition

In any composition there are a variety of factors that can either detract or enhance the piece. While the depth of field and the subjects of the composition are considered 'fixed' or 'unchangeable,' many elements ranging from contrast to saturation to detail can be altered to enhance the piece.

One of the most important elements of a composition is establishing the appropriate contrast in the piece, contrast of light and shadow, contrast of subjects and contrast of elemental details.

Often, those in the visual arts use a technique called 'bracketing' or 'stepping' to find the right balance in a composition. The technique consists of increasing and decreasing the amount of exposure, or light in the shot to establish different details and find the best result.

Abstracting this technique to narratives, it is not too dissimilar from establishing revisions to a draft. The draft creates the basic composition with an established depth of field and subjects but does not have the strength of an emotionally draining 'dark' composition or the emotional highs of the 'light' composition. Each step towards the 'darker' or 'lighter' compositions can shift the entirety of the piece but at the same time, finding the right composition can be extremely difficult. Most take each piece of the composition and adjust it individually to suite the piece. This can result in a lengthy and painful process to attain the desired composition.

A very beneficial technique that supplements 'bracketing' in the visual arts is known as High Dynamic Range imaging. This technique involves taking the variations of a composition, the lightest highlights to the darkest shadows and merging them into a solitary composition that will have exceptional contrast and all of the positive elements from each variation.

While revisions can be painful, the concept of taking a single draft and revising it into separate directions, applying a lighter tone so the high points are the brightest, then taking another variation and revising with the intent of taking the dark moments and making them the darkest they can be is very beneficial. The end result of creating separate, bracketed, revised compositions allows the creator to merge all of the strongest elements into one HDR Composition.

How do you revise your work? Do you use an HDR technique or do you adjust the individual elements of the original piece?

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