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by · Posted in: digital alterations · theory

Video: Optimizing Photo Composition

Ein jedes Meistergesanges Bar
stell' ordentlich ein Gemässe dar
aus unterschiedlichen Gesätzen,
die keiner soll verletzen.
Ein Gesätz besteht aus zweenen Stollen,
die gleiche Melodei haben sollen;
der Stoll' aus etlicher Vers' Gebänd',
der Vers hat einen Reim am End'.
Darauf so folgt der Abgesang,
der sei auch etlich' Verse lang,
und hab' sein' besond're Melodei,
als nicht im Stollen zu finden sei.
Derlei Gemässes mehre Baren
soll ein jed' Meisterlied bewahren;
und wer ein neues Lied gericht',
das über vier der Silben nicht
eingreift in andrer Meister Weis',
des Lied erwerb' sich Meisterpreis!"

Each unit of a Mastersong
shall present a proper balance
of its different sections,
against which no one shall offend.
A section consist of two stanzas,
which shall have the same melody;
the stanza is a group of so many lines,
the line has its rhyme at the end.
Thereupon follows the Aftersong
which is also to be so many lines long
and have its own special melody
which is not to occur in the stanza.
Each Mastersong shall have
several units in this ratio;
and whoever composes a new song
which does not for more than four syllables
encroach upon other Master's melodies—
his song may win a master's prize."
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act I, Richard Wagner

This video comes via John Nack at Adobe. The technology is undeniably interesting, especially the way it is able to identify subject material in the frame, and it will probably make people happier with many of their photos. They are kidding themselves though by calling it aesthetics. Convention is more appropriate. I admit though that it's not nearly as sexy to say we've invented some technology to make your photos more conventional.

History is full of attempts to codify beauty. The Meistersingers referenced in the quote above are a good example. Their methods have a lot in common with the recipes you find in magazines and workshops, and the 'master of photography' titles bequeathed by certain organizations today. Some attempts to systemize the style and conventions of the day were fairly succesful—music schools still teach 16th-century counterpoint to composition students—but none could really be said to have found the "rules" for aesthetics. As soon as any set of rules becomes commonly accepted, the aesthetic rug is pulled out from underneath them by people who don't need no stinkn' rules. If this technology becomes common place, I will be ready to shock the world by replacing the 'rule of thirds' with my "rule of fifths." Vive la révolution.