I’ve been thinking for a while now on composition and it hit me that perhaps a reason I’m able to create good composition in my photos is due to shooting.
There are a lot of correlations between the sight picture you need to get off an aimed shot quickly and creating a pleasing composition in a photograph. You have to know what you are seeing and how it relates in order to put all the pieces together so it fits.
In the case of action shooting, you have to be able to do it in milliseconds in order for your brain to process what your eyes are seeing in order to make the shots quickly and accurately. In my case, the fastest I’ve been able to pull the trigger and see – calling the shot – is about 6-8 shots in a second.
It makes the time I take to frame up a photograph seem about like forever.
If you’ll accept that the definition of composition is: the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole then it might hit you like it hit me last week.
A good sight picture is composition.
A good sight picture will have the proper alignment between the front and rear sight (I’m not addressing shooting with a dot here, but it’s the same thing) and the target you wish to hit. The front sight should be in focus (and there’s a wide variety of how hard or soft to focus on the front sight but that’s another discussion) and the rear sight and target itself should be a little fuzzy. The space between the sides of the front sight and the ‘walls’ of the back sight should be even and you should be able to picture a straight line going across the top of your front and rear sights with neither higher or lower than the other.
Actually, now that I look at this pic on the computer and not on the camera screen… this is not quite perfect as the front sight is slightly lower than the rear sight. In the case of this close up target though, it’s perfectly adequate and you’ll notice the composition that exists in/around the front sight and the rear sight and target.
Here’s a noticeably bad sight picture:
You’ll notice the relationship on the right side of the front sight is drastically different than the first image. In high speed shooting you must be able to recognize this relationship and fix it quickly before pulling the trigger.
In USPSA, the targets that you are not supposed to shoot are colored white. Your eyes have an even more complex task in that now you add additional color to the sight picture you are trying to compose. For example:
In this shot, you’ll note that there’s a pretty good relationship between front and rear sights. But the relationship on the target with the no shoot is bad bad bad. This doesn’t of course keep us from popping the no shoot targets every now and again when we get in a hurry. But when we let our eyes and brain compose the sight picture properly, it’s not a problem to avoid the no shoot like this:
This is about as good as it gets. The no shoot target is well out of the composition and the sight picture is just about perfect.
Now who knew that when I was putting all those rounds downrange I was actually working on my artistic side!
Perhaps you can see why this place is called My Sight Picture. Shooting pictures and shooting a gun are very much the same thing – you need a good sight picture to do both well.