Monday, 30 April 2012

Cropping and extending

Exercise: Cropping (3 photographs)

This exercise was to take three photographs I had already taken and by cropping them, find different pictures within the photographs. Looking through photographs I had already taken I tried to find photographs that I had taken prior to commencing the course, to see if the knowledge of the previous exercises could be incorporated into the cropped photograph.

Image 1 - Original 

Image 1.1 - Suggested Crop

Image 1.2 - Cropped

Image 1 was taken of the Menai suspension bridge, which links the Isle of Anglesey to the mainland of North Wales. 

Image 1 is the full uncropped version of the image, the bridge is situated slightly above the middle of the frame.  On the day the photo was taken the sky was an all over grey colour and not very exciting, so I choose to incorporate more of the foreground into the image. Upon viewing the photograph for this exercise and taking into account what I have learnt so far, I looked at cropping the photograph as shown in image 1.1. By doing so I would cut some of the distracting foreground and by placing the bridge in the frame with reference to the 'golden section' would give the final cropped photograph a more balanced composition. 

By placing the bridge in such a way, the horizontal lines of the bridge also suggest movement left and right, but more so to the left.   

Image 2 - Original

Image 2.1 - Suggested Crop

Image 2.2 - Cropped

Image 2 was taken at the Eden Project in Cornwall, my thoughts when taking the photograph was to place the flower towards the lower half of the frame and have the Bio domes, out of focus in the background. 

The suggested crop in image 2.1 would make the frame square and the flower central in the photograph. This would give the photograph maximum symmetry as the flower petals radiate out around the frames centre giving symmetry on all axis, as shown in image 2.2.

Image 3 - Original

Image 3.1 - Suggested Crop

Image 3.2 - Cropped 

Image 3 was taken looking along Bangor pier in North Wales. My thought process when taking the photograph was to have the converging lines of the seating drawing the eye towards the cafe at the end of the pier. 

When I uploaded the photograph on the computer on my return from North Wales I was uninspired with it for a few reasons, and never really looked at it again until I was looking for images for this exercise. The large expanse of wooden decking in the foreground and bland sky coupled with the fact the camera was not in line with the centre of the pier, the converging rows of seating on either side of the pier are seen at differing angles, result in the frame being out of balance. The result of this is very unsatisfactory photograph.  

In image 3.1 my intention was to crop out some of the foreground and sky and try to concentrate on the end of the pier. By doing so I tried to create bilateral symmetry of the seating leading to the cafe, however by not having the camera in the centre of the pier to start with, the photograph was out of balance.

In the final cropped version, image 3.2, while I think the photograph is better than in the original, it still doesn't work. The moral of the story is that no amount of cropping will make a bad photograph into a good one, well not always, as has been said time and time again, there are no rules in photography!!


Only a few years behind the masses, i've decided to join Twitter, and see what all the fuss is about, so if you feel that you want to follow me......!? i'm on there as @richwickphoto

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dividing the frame - Positioning the horizon

Exercise: Positioning the horizon (6 photographs)

When photographing most landscape scenes the the horizon is the single most important graphic element within the scene, especially when there are no outstanding points of interest. This exercise was to show how positioning the horizon at different points within the frame can have important effect on how the final photograph would look.

Image 1

In image 1, I placed the horizon in the top third of the frame. The rocky river bank and muddy water of the river create a huge expanse of area with little or no interest. The horizon placed in this position clearly does not work for this scene.

Image 2

For image 2, I placed the horizon approximately half way across the photograph. The clouds are now more visible, however there is still a large brown area in the lower half of the photograph. 

Image 2 works slightly better than image 1, and if the river had been cleaner, the contrast between the river bank and water would have created slightly more interest. 

(The river is normally a nice deep blue colour, but due to the recent heavy rain the mud and silt had washed down the river causing it to become brown and muddy). 

Image 3

The Horizon in image 3 is now been moved to the lower third of the frame. The clouds are more dramatic and less of the muddy foreground is visible. As the sky has lot more interest than the foreground, hence creating more interest in for the viewer.

Image 4

Finally the horizon in image 4 was placed near to the bottom of the frame. This has the effect of the sky and clouds dominating the photograph. The river bank is now out of view and the muddy river occupies less than a 1/4 of the frame. 

For this photograph the foreground is uninteresting and the sky and clouds are dramatic, so the middle to low horizon works best in this situation. Image 3 has the best combination of sky/clouds and foreground, whereas image 4 is dominated by the sky, this in my opinion overwhelms the photograph. Image 3 therefore is the better composition for this scene. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Dividing the frame - Balance

Exercise: Balance (6 photographs)

The aim of this exercise was to take a look at any photographs I've have already taken and decide how the balance works in each one of them.

When referring to balance in a photograph it applies to as much as what you see as to the actual physical objects. Therefore colour, differing areas of tone and or between an object and a background can all effect balance.

Having looked through my photograph collection I have picked the following images to, hopefully try to demonstrate symmetrical and dynamic balance.

Image 1

Image 1 has two unequal objects the window to the left of centre and the chimney to the right. As the chimney is placed near the edge of the frame it balances out the larger window. This is an example of symmetrical balance whereby everything falls equally away from the middle of the photograph. 

Image 2

Image 2 was take on a visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall, as the subject has been placed central in the photograph, creating maximum symmetry as the lines radiate from the centre giving symmetry on all axis.


After studying image 2 further, the Bio Domes that are visible in the top left of the photograph may alter the balance slightly, in image 2.1 I have re drawn the weighing scale taking into account the Bio Domes, and as the scale suggest the photograph now has dynamic balance with regard to the principles applied in this exercise, I feel that the domes in the background give the photograph depth and visual tension to the viewer.

Image 3 

Image 3 was taken on a cold February day in St Ives, Cornwall, the rear of the fishing boat in the foreground is the larger of the two subjects present in the photograph. Even though the remainder of the boat goes out shot to the right, the stern rudder is near centre of the photograph and the row of houses in the background are slightly smaller and nearer the top of the frame, thus in my opinion creating symmetry and balance in the photograph. 

Image 4 

Image 4 was taken about 3 years ago at Foggintor quarry, near Princetown, Dartmoor. The ruined building is the major focus point in the photograph. This in an unbalanced composition, as depicted in the weighing scale. In this photograph the eye would search for balance, either towards the sunset to the left or to the ridges and rocks bottom left or the granite boulders in the foreground.

Michael Freeman (2007) 'The Photographers Eye',  "This process of trying to compensate for an obvious asymmetry in an image is what creates visual tension, and it can be very useful indeed in making a picture more dynamic". 

Image 5

Image 5 was taken last year when I was practicing product photography and experimenting with off camera flash. Having looked at it with regard to this exercise, the eye is drawn to the full Bourbon glass in foreground, then as in image 4, the eye would search for visual balance, either to the bottle on its side to the left or the one directly behind it. The visual tension created in this photograph, is in my opinion more effective than having symmetrical balance. 

Michael Freeman (2007) 'The Photographers Eye', "An expressive picture is by no means always harmonious"  

Image 6

Image 6 was taken on a recent trip to Betws y Coed in North Wales, the focus points being the waterfall which is placed near the centre of the photograph and the houses and trees at the top of the photograph

The waterfall, is definitely the larger of the two subjects in the photograph and I composed it so that the viewer would be drawn to the waterfall before looking at the setting, i.e the houses and trees in the background. This is another example of dynamic balance. The eye tends naturally to look for good balance in image 6, I wanted to create the tension between the waterfall and the setting.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Focal lengths - different viewpoints

Exercise: Focal lengths and different viewpoints (2 or more photographs)

This exercise was to show how different focal lengths and a change of viewpoint can have on the perspective of a photograph.

I photographed a covered gateway to a local church to demonstrate the difference in prospective.

Image 1 - 190mm @ f10

Image 2 - 29mm @ f10

Image 1 as stated was taken at 190mm and gives an impression that the entrance door to the church in the background is a lot closer to the gate. The telephoto lens reduces the impression of depth by compressing the planes of the image. It leaves the parallel lines and right angles as they are, this gives the viewer a less involved view of the gateway, distancing them from the it, giving them a more objective way of viewing it. 

In image 2, taken at 29mm the entrance door to the church appears to be a lot further away, this is due to the wide angle lens as they change the apparent perspective and so the perception of depth. The tiled roof the entrance gates is emphasised, this again is due to the wide angle lens as they have a tendency to produce diagonals creating dynamic tension drawing the viewer into the scene, it occupies the upper part of the photograph and giving it a very strong presence. 

Focal lengths

Exercise: Focal Lengths (3-10 photographs)

This exercise was to demonstrate how using different lenses and therefore different focal lengths can have effect on a photograph. This was achieved by setting the camera on a tripod and taking a series photographs at varying focal lengths of open view with detail in the distance. For this exercise I used a Nikon D300 fitted with 18-50mm lens as well as a 70-300mm lens.

Image 1 - taken @ 29mm

Image 2 - taken @ 46mm

Image 3 - taken @ 70mm

Image 4 - taken @ 300mm

The photographs were taken looking westward from Princetown towards Merrivale on Dartmoor. In image 1, I used a focal length of 29mm and this gave a wide angle view of the moorland and houses and the old Merrivale quarry in the distance, this angle of view is quite flat and boring. 

Image 2 was taken at 46mm and gives a slightly tighter view. It gives a better impression of the quarry and surrounding area with the granite and heather moorland in the foreground. 

Moving in to 70mm in image 3 and some of the detail of quarry is lost, this is due to the increase in focal length, as the focal length is increased, so the angle of view is decreased. This is demonstrated to a greater extent on image 4 which was taken at 300mm. The detail of the quarry and surrounding farm buildings have been lost and the photograph is dominated by the large white house. In this photograph, I varied the composition slightly and placed the house the right of the photograph as the driveway goes out to the left and the parked van suggest movement to the left. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Frame - Object in different positions in the frame

Exercise: Object in different positions in the frame. (4 photographs)

For this exercise, I needed to take a series of photographs and in each one, placing the subject in different positions in the frame. In doing so, assess how changing the position of the subject has affected its relationship with the background.

Trying to find a subject on a large even background was a bit more of a challenge than I thought. However on driving past a farmers field, I noticed that in the field of sheep was a large Ram minding his own business on his own at the top of the field. So risking life and limb in the pursuit of the right photograph I climbed over the gate and set about taking the photographs I needed.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

In the series of 4 photographs above I placed the subject as the exercise suggested in differing positions. In image 1, I placed the Ram directly in the centre of the frame, with equal space to all four edges of the photograph. The Ram dominates the photograph, and doesn't do much else to inspire the viewer. 

In image 2, the Ram is to the left of the photograph and gives the impression to the viewer that it is walking out of the frame and for this reason this photograph doesn't work at all.

In image 3, the Ram is placed near the top of the photograph. The relationship to the background, suggests that the Ram is on his own in the field.

In image 4, the Ram was placed to the right of centre, and suggests to the viewer that he is walking into the frame and into the field. For this reason, this photograph is the most suitable one for this subject and background.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Frame - A sequence of composition

Exercise: A sequence of composition (20-30 photographs)

This exercise was to help me to think the practical aspects of composing an image, ideally using a situation which involves people out in the street. Not having done much street photography before, this would be another new challenge for me.

The idea was to record the way you approach and shoot a subject, from the moment you catch sight of a possible photograph, to the final best image you can make of it.

I used a local remembrance day parade for this exercise.  The parade would have the necessary number of people and numerous photograph opportunities, or so I would hope!.

As suggested with the exercise notes, I kept the camera viewfinder up to my eye and moved around the parade.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3 

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

Image 7

Image 8 

Image 9

Image 10

Image 11

Image 12

Image 13

Image 14

Image 15

Image 16

Image 17

Image 18

Image 19

Image 20

Having not photographed groups of people I wasn't sure how I would get on, I was very conscious that this was a remembrance parade and I didn't want to intrude on the service but wanted to get some photographs portraying the essence of what the parade was about and the significance to those attending. 

The first few images I took were of people watching the parade, these photographs certainly didn't give me what i was looking for, so I then I set about taking photographs of the parade itself. I took several of the looking at the parade from the front, using varying levels of depth of field, and some close up and some more open shots. I initially liked image 3, however I would have liked it better if it had a bit more of the Cenotaph in the background. Also as the Cenotaph is stood on a sloping ground, from left to right in this photograph, it has given the image a lopsided feeling, which I didn't like. In image 4, I chose to do a close of the same man, his pensive look was the appeal of this image, however, I still thought it was missing telling the viewer that this was a remembrance parade.

The photographs of the younger members of the parade in images 5,6&7 again lacked telling this message. 

I then changed the angle and took some images looking down the line of the parade, again using varying depths of field to isolate individuals. 

The final sequence of photographs were of the standard bearers who were stood outside of the entrance to the church. These men, looked so proud that they had the honour of carrying the individual flags of the regiments represented. 

The final image, image 20, summed up how proud these men were, the photograph shows the flag, and the old soldier proudly wears his medals and poppy. I feel this image sums up the remembrance parade and the reasons behind it. You can sense by looking at image 20 how proud the man is.