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Learn photography composition with just a single slide mount

Learn photography composition with just an old slide mount: it is the best way to start with photography

If you have a friend who shows a growing interest in photography, a very good idea for a present would be a Gift Certificate from Amazon or, if you are short of money, you can give her/him a very interesting (and perhaps the best ever) learning tool: a single transparency slide mount.
No joking.

©based on a photo by Gp Twisted

How to gain skill in photography composition
Transparency slide mounts are a valuable aid in practicing photography composition at no cost and without a camera. Have a slide mount with you anywhere you go, anytime, and use it extensively: there is no need to have a camera to train and improve your taste in composition.

The good way to start with photography

Some people insist that old chemical photography is dead.
Others think there is still much to do with film before saying it is forgotten.
No matter where the truth lies, the old little square mounts for 24×36 mm format transparency film can definitely be one of the best way for you and your friends to learn and improve digital photography.

Slide mounts are more and more uncommon today: don’t throw your old slide mounts away.
Plastic shell mounts are better than cardboard, as they are more long-lasting and can rest in your pocket or purse anytime. Have a slide mount with you wherever you go, use it extensively.

Kodachrome classic cardboard frame for 35 mm slides — photo by fras1977

Kodachrome classic cardboard frame for 35 mm slides © Borealnz (Jill) + fras1977

A valuable aid in composition

St. Magdalena - Val di Funes - Dolomites - Italy — photo by Gp Twisted

© Dolomites - Italy

Look at the whole world through the small mount window, carefully.
As a general guide, remember that:

  • the closer you keep your slide mount to your eyes the wider area you can frame
  • the farther you keep your slide mount away from your eyes the narrower your field of view

In other words, a short eye-to-window distance let you embrace a wide scene, whereas a longer eye-to-window distance gradually narrows your angle of view.

Very long eye-to-window distances allow for only a limited selective view of the world around you: this way you can isolate a specific subject or a single detail. Try holding the slide mount with your arm outstretched in front of you, then slowly bring it closer and closer to your eyes: more and more of the world will be included into your frame.

How to gain skill in digital photography

No camera is required, no bulky gear to haul around, no money involved at all, yet this method, along with any other similar one, is perhaps the most fruitful path to successfully learn digital photography.

Moving the slide mount back and forth is like zooming in and out: you choose what to include into your frame.
It is interesting to note that the eye-to-frame distance is more or less equal to the lens length (focal length) you would need to cover the same area (provided that you will shoot with a full-frame digital/film format). This means that you can immediately tell which lens you would need to take a certain picture. Not bad, as a learning tool.
Such a knowledge will be useful when shooting with a camera:

  • The shorter the focal length the larger the field of view
  • The longer the focal length the narrower the field of view

What next?

You might also want to eventually explore some more pages:

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