Sunday, 24 February 2013

Thoughts on Assignment 2

Well its getting near that time where I have to complete assignment 2,  I have thought about the subjects listed in the course notes, and I think the one topic that springs out to me is street details, the more exercises I complete for this course, the more I like getting out in the street and having the confidence to photograph what is around me.

I did a small amount of urban photography as part of my course with the Photography Institute, which ignited the spark for it. Since that time I have looked at books by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), and recently purchased his book 'The Modern Century' (ISBN 978-0-500-54391-7).

Having only recently purchased the books i've not had an opportunity to fully take in this all of what this book contains, however I have scanned a few of his images and applied the techniques I have learnt about in the previous exercises and it doesn't come as a surprise that a high number of the images I have so far viewed comply with this structure.

Having been credited with the accolade of being the father of modern photojournalism, there is no one better to study in this area and take inspiration from. I like the way his used a small Leica 35mm camera, fitted most of the time with a 50mm lens, and took most of his photographs by stealth. This enabled him to capture life and actions as they happened and not staged.

His belief that photographs should be composed in the viewfinder, not in the darkroom, nowadays on the computer, is a skill every photographer should strive for, and I certainly trying to achieve exactly that.


Exercise: Real and implied triangles (6 Photographs)

Triangles occur more frequently in a photograph than any other shape and they are very useful in design. The very nature of a triangle creates two diagonals, and if you remember back to the exercise concerning diagonals, these create a feeling of activity and dynamism.

For this exercise I had to produce two sets of triangular compositions in photographs, one using 'real' triangles and the making 'implied triangles'.

Real triangles 

Image 1

The first of the three 'real' photographs was to find a subject that which is itself triangular, I chose to photograph this rather drab looking local church. Both parts of the roof are triangular and while i was going to just photograph the very top of the church to show the triangular structure, I chose to shoot a more wide angle shot, the triangular roof is still strong element to the image and therefore the eye is drawn to it first before scanning the rest of the photograph.

Image 2

The second photograph was to make a triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.  This photograph is off the new hospital in Newton Abbot, to get this effect, I used a wide angle lens and took the photograph from a low angle. By doing this the apex of the triangle is at the top of the frame and the base at the bottom. This is the most stable configuration of a triangle. 

Image 3

The third photograph of this part of the exercise, was to make an inverted triangle, also by perspective. This one was a little more difficult to find, however the photograph I took for this demonstrates the theory well. The base of the triangle is the top frame edge, the two sides of the downward triangle are created by the walls of this hotel. The apex is now at the bottom of the frame and the base at the top. In this configuration, it is less stable, more aggressive and contains more movement. 

Implied triangles

For the second part of this exercise, I was to photograph a still life arrangement to demonstrate implied triangles. 

Image 4

The first photograph was to show an implied triangle with apex at the top of the frame. I arranged a number of Jack Daniels shot glasses and a miniature bottle. As with the real triangle in image 2 the base of the triangle is at the bottom of the frame which gives stability to the image.

Image 5

The inverted triangle is shown in image 5, the base being the widest part of the bottle and the apex towards the bottom of the frame with the small shot glass. There is another triangle present, one from the light, in opposition to the inverted triangle. 

The final image of this exercise was to photograph three people in a group picture to show either their faces or the lines of their bodies make a triangle.

Image 6

Image 6a

I know its not three people but I think this a great example of an implied triangle, inverted. The base being towards the top of the frame and the apex being the clay on the potters wheel towards the bottom.

In conclusion, using the principles demonstrated in the last few exercises, it is possible to construct an image, the definable shapes organises parts of the photograph in a way that provides structure to a photograph. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Using lines in Composition

Exercise - Implied lines (2 Photographs)

This exercise is broken down into three parts, the first part was to analyse the above two photographs, and find the implied lines within them and then sketch them on the photograph, if one direction along the line is dominant to indicate this with an arrow.

The first photograph of the bull fighter, I feel the dominate line is the movement of the bull, from left to right. This is the stronger element to the photograph, the size of the bull and sense of power suggested by the sand kicked up by the hooves give indication of movement in that direction. The secondary lines indicates movement along the direction of the line drawn in the sand with extends up to the bull fighters left hand.

The second photograph of Threshing corn in Sicily, the dominate line is that of the direction of the horses head, in particular the horse to closer to the centre. The angle of the horses and the, leaning over as if turning and both of the horses looking to the right, suggest a strong curved line in that direction. The farmer looking towards the horses creates an implied line in the opposite direction.

The second part of this exercise calls for me to analyse three of my own previously taken photographs in the same way as above.

Image 1

The surfers in image 1 create a few differing implied lines, first the eye is drawn to the surfer, the movement of the of the wave and the direction the surfer is going is in my opinion the dominate implied line, then the surfer is looking to the right across the photograph, this creates another implied line, eye line. Th crest of the wave creates another, while the surfer in the background albeit a little out of focus creates another eye line, as he looking out of the photograph to the left.     

Image 2

Image 2 is dominated by eye lines, the viewer is initially drawn to the chef, Michael Caines and his eye line looking to the right, then to Judi Spiers and the assistant looking downwards. As Michael is looking out of the photograph, asks the question, what is he looking at?

Image 3

In image 3, the implied lines are emanating from the deck lines on the life boat, the dominate feature of this photograph, as the bow of the boat is pointing to the centre of the photograph, the eye moves along the super structure in that direction. The reflection of the boat in the water also creates a implied line downwards. The break in the clouds also creates another line away from the boat, skywards. 

For the third and final part of this exercise, I took the following photographs to include
  • An eye line
  • The extension of a line, or lines that point

Image 4

Michael Freeman in his book 'The Photographers Eye' states that the eye line is one of the most valuable implied line that can be used in designing a photograph. The reason for this is that the viewer will pay attention to any human face that appears in a photograph. If this person is looking at something, the viewers eyes naturally follow that direction. In image 4, the dog walkers on the beach, as they are looking out of the frame, it is unresolved and creates some doubt in the viewer. 

Image 5

In image 5, the line of the railings creates leads the eye into the frame and towards the woman walking in the direction of the camera. This is an example of an extension of a line drawing the viewer into the photograph.

Used correctly a line within an image, whether implied or real can be used subtlety to direct the viewers attention in a certain direction. This can encourage the viewer to see the photograph as you intended, and cause the viewer to explore the photograph. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Elements of Design - Curves

Exercise - Curves (4 Photographs)

So far the exercises contained with this part of the course of have been concerned with straight lines, whether that be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. This exercise deals with curves. Curves within a photograph are attractive to most people, just as diagonals demonstrated in the previous have a dynamic and active quality, curves have a smooth and flowing character to them.

Curves are however harder than diagonals to introduce into a photograph. If you remember a diagonal can be a straight line, but when viewed from a different angle it becomes a diagonal. However curves must begin as real curves, they can be exaggerated by being viewed at a more acute angle, but essentially they must be a curve to start with.

Image 1

In image 1, taken on the Albert dock in Liverpool, the curves are created by the big wheel, the edge of the Echo centre and the moon. All of which are curves, as previously stated are there to start with, however they can be exaggerated by altering the angle at which the photograph was taken. 

Image 2

In image 2, the paving stones around a statue create a curve, leading the eye through the photograph from bottom right through to the top. 

Image 3

As with image 2, the road in image 3 creates a smooth flow through the image, the stone edging and trees reinforce the curves. The curve carries the eye from the bottom edge to the leaving the photograph at the top right.

Image 4

In image 4,  the sea defences in St Helier Jersey create a curve, not only with the curve of the wall as it sweeps around to the right, but also each individual stone are curved. The lamp posts at the top of the photograph create a curve by implication, an arrangement of points, this would be exaggerated if they were greater in number and also if the photograph had be taken at a different angle. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Elements of Design - Lines

Exercise - Diagonals (4 Photographs)

Having looked at horizontal and vertical lines within a frame, this exercise looks at diagonals. These are slightly easier to create within a photograph.

The reason for this is that straight edges such as fences or railings, will be horizontal if viewed from directly looking at them, if the perspective is changed, ie the angle at which the photograph is taken is changed, then the horizontal element is changed to a diagonal, as shown in the following images.

Image 1

Image 2

In images 1 & 2 it can be seen that changing the perspective increases the diagonals within the frame. As the camera pans to the left and also by deceasing the focal length of the lens the diagonals increase considerable.

Image 3

Diagonals within the frame give a feeling of depth, linear perspective largely based on diagonals, this is demonstrated in image 3, the diagonals give a great feeling of depth. This is increased by the photograph being taken extremely close to the ladder and by using a wide angle lens. 

Image 4

As can be seen in all these images, diagonals have a greater sense of movement and direction than verticals and horizontals. This is because they make an immediate contrast with the frame edges. In image 4 the diagonals are created by the angled framework of the bridge structure, whereas in the previous 3 images the diagonals were created by the positioning of the camera and the focal length of the lens. 

Having looked through images used as part of the course material, I have found the following ones using diagonals. 

Elements of Design - Lines

Exercise - Horizontal and vertical lines (8 Photographs)

This exercise calls for photographing specific examples of horizontal and vertical lines. The aim is find four examples of each in differing ways in which horizontal and vertical lines appear to the eye and camera.

Lines can be implied, where the viewer forms a line through the image, whether horizontal or vertical, say a row of trees in a line. Or lines could be firmed by a solid structure such as a building.

The frist four images demonstrate horizontal lines.......

Image 1

Image 1, St Brelades bay in Jersey, the image has a strong horizontal element, the harbour wall is an obvious one running directly across the centre of the image. The base of the clouds also adds to this element, the contrast between dark and light, along with the implied line of the boats in the foreground.

Image 2

Image 2, the steps produce a powerful horizontal setting, the seating and walls towards the top of the frame reinforce the horizontal feeling to the image. The viewpoint and positioning of the camera in this image is crucial, as if the photograph was taken slightly off centre the image would lose its equilibrium.

Image 3

In this image of the disused pub, the horizontal lines are implied by the windows, moving across the top  of the image, and to a lessor extent across the bottom. It could also suggest vertical lines, with the windows, but i feel the three windows across the top are the stronger element. 

Image 4

Carbis Bay on a windy day, suggesting horizontal lines with the surf running into the beach, this is more subtle than a physical building line, but there all the same. 

Vertical lines........

Image 5

Image 5 was taken at La Jolla, California, the tall trunks of the palm trees gives a strong vertical element to the frame. The size of the trees in comparison to the male in the foreground, the vehicles and the portrait orientation of the image all go to emphasise the vertical element. 

Image 6

Image 6, is a navigational tower at the mouth of the river Teign, in Devon. The image has a horizontal element to it, the horizon and clouds, however the vertical nature of the tower dominates the frame and therefore is the stronger element.  

Image 7

Image 7, the old red weathered telephone kiosk has a strong vertical element to it, this is due to the shape of the kiosk and this is emphasised by the red colour against the green/stone background

Image 8

Image 8, has a horizontal element to the steps, similar to image 2, but due to the steps rising up into the distance, the image, with the confines of the narrow steps the vertical element appears to be the stronger. As with image 5 the portrait orientation of the frame emphasises the vertical element. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Elements of Design - Points

Exercise - Multiple points (6 photographs)

The previous two exercises dealt with a single point, then two points in the frame. This exercise was to demonstrate what the effect several points have on an image.

Several points within an image can imply a network of lines and can also create a shape by implication.

To demonstrate this I was to set up my own still life, using between 6 -10 similar sized items. Then fixed the camera on a tripod, and take a series of photographs, The idea of placing the camera on a tripod is to control the composition by rearrangement, not by changing the framing of the camera.

I decided for this one I would set up a still life using a desk with my Nikon D300 fitted with a 18-50mm lens mounted on a tripod. I used some pebbles and shells I had collected from the beach.

In image 1,  I placed a pebble on its own on the desk, this pebble was unique as it had a heart shape ingrained in the stone. In post production I changed the images to black and white to give it a more bland appearance so that the pebbles would contrast nicely against the background. 

I then introduced several more pebbles and shells...........

Image 1

Image 2 

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

In image 2 & 3 the initial pebble was left in its original position however in 4 & 5 all the pebbles ere rearranged to try and create different shapes. 

In image 6 the final arrangement of the pebbles and shells create an implied line as shown by the red line, running around the stones in a horse shoe shape. The arrow shows motion from the top of the stones around to the bottom left to right as most view a photo in this way. But the arrow can be traced in the opposite direction from bottom to top.