Project 2 Visual skills

Exercise 1.4 Frame

2) Take a good number of shots, composing each shot within a single section of the viewfinder grid. Don’t bother about the rest of the frame! When you review the shots, evaluate the whole frame, not just the part you’ve composed. IMG_9440 enh IMG_9495 enh

In these images the picture is composed in the top right sector. Both of these work compositionally for me as I accidently also used rule of thirds and leading lines, it seems I just can’t get away from it!  

IMG_9448 enh IMG_9450 IMG_9465 enh

IMG_9444 enh  IMG_9511 enh IMG_9460

These images were composed in the top left sector. Interestingly the last three images here do work compositionally as a whole, as they have a leading line to facilitate this giving a relationship to the frame, leading the viewer into the image and thus creates a balance. Again this was not done on purpose, when I composed the shot my conscious brain was only on the picture in the top left sector of the frame; however once again my sub conscious brain seems to have taken over the composition. The others look completely wrong as there are no points that have a balanced relationship to the frame.

IMG_9462 enh   IMG_9463 enh IMG_9519

This set of images are composed in the bottom right sector. The first two don’t work at all as whole compositions; there are no relationships to the frame and nothing to lead the eye into the image. The last image could work as a whole composition, as the many lines that intersect the frame lead you into the picture and create more of a balance, even though the interest is mainly in the bottom right sector of the whole image.

2) Select six or eight images that you feel work individually as compositions and also together as a set. Add the images to your learning log together with technical information such as camera settings, and one or two lines containing your thoughts and observations.

IMG_9495 enh

1/800 f/14 ISO 200

IMG_9465 enh IMG_9511 enh  IMG_9462 enh

1/800 f/11 ISO 200                1/640 f/16 ISO 200        1/800 f/16 ISO 200


1/800 f/13 ISO 200

                                                                     IMG_9444 enh

                                       1/500 f/10 ISO 200

My observations:

As you would expect, composing a shot in one sector of the viewfinder leads to an unbalanced and unpleasing image. However this can be improved if in addition there are leading lines or lines entering and leaving the frame. I guess this is because the leading lines generally lead the viewer to the focus point, without which the focus or focal point of the image would not be clear and the image would therefore be confusing to the viewer.


Project 2 Visual skills

Exercise 1.3 Line

(1) Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wide-angle lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a viewpoint close to the line.

_MG_3789 WA

_MG_3813 WA   _MG_3857 not WA

Intersections of the lines with the frame lead the viewers’ eyes into the image and yes, the effect is strengthened with a viewpoint close to the lines.

Even this shot taken without a wide angle lens leads the viewers’ eyes into the image:

_MG_3906 not WA

Leading lines give depth to a photo, once the objects are on the lines they become smaller as the eye is drawn towards the centre of the frame, this creates the illusion and impression of depth in an image.

(2) Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down).

_MG_4145  _MG_4147

_MG_3840                      _MG_3890

Review your shots from both parts of Exercise 1.3. How do the different lines relate to the frame?

Interestingly out of the hundreds of images I shot at the Southampton boat show I could only find two that I had shot parallel to the subject. I shot them in this way deliberately, to flatten the pictorial space and I believe they are quite effective;  however it proves that I generally find shooting to create a sense of depth more interesting.

Yes it is important that for leading lines, a line leaving the frame leads to a focal point within the frame. This is not so with lines in an image taken parallel to the sensor, in fact on reviewing some of my other images I find that I tend to use this shooting technique when I am creating an abstract image.

Note down what you understand by the terms “cropping” and “framing”:

Cropping is carried out after capturing an image, removing outer parts of it to improve the composition, possibly to frame it better, to remove distractions, to zoom in or to improve the balance or tempo. This can be done physically by cutting or digitally using software.

Framing done whist compose and shooting an image. It is a way of drawing attention to a particular part of an image such as using leading lines to draw the viewer in, or using an object to frame a part of an image (such as windows, archways, doorways, shadows, foreground images, light). Framing can add depth and interest to an image and must not clutter it.

It is interesting to see how other photographers such as Leonard Kirstein, Victor Burgin and Alfred Stieglitz use these techniques, or not. Looking at my shots in part 1, they mostly give a feeling of a composed view rather that Stieglitz’s cropped view. I guess one needs to be careful not to be too tightly controlled on this, to allow sometimes for a transparent window to the world.

Project 2 Visual skills

Exercise 1.2 Point

Part 1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame.

How can you evaluate the pictures?

How do you know whether you’ve got it right or not?

Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point?

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that the point should be clear and easy to see.

As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.

Can you evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point? 

Are you evaluating the position of the point by its relationship to the frame? 

1.1 good _MG_4018

I instinctively know whether “I’ve got it right or not”, however it is very difficult to explain why. The position of the point in this image pleases me and I don’t feel that I need to move the sphere or crop the image.

1.1 poor _MG_4026 

This image however does not please my eye, I feel that the sphere is spoiling the picture, drawing my eye to it and detracting from the squares of the paving which I do find pleasing. Perhaps the sphere is too obvious or dominant in this image.

I believe I very much am evaluating the position of the point by its relationship to the frame and will discover more about this part 2.

Part 2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.

_MG_4180      _MG_4179_MG_41811. Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? Yes the 2nd picture is not in relationship to the frame nor is it “balanced”.

2. Observe the way your eye ‘scans’ the surface of the image. Note how:

  • A point attracts attention out of proportion to its size – yes it does.
  • The eye looks for connections between two points – the eye does look for connections between the point and points on the frame (diagonals).
  • Placing a point close to the edge seems to animate both the point and the frame – it does.

Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes over the surface with a pencil. For this I used a set of “real photos”:

trace h 1   h trace 2h trace 3

Then try the same with a selection of photographs from newspapers or magazines.

trace 1   trace 2 Trace 3

So what have I learnt? 

Indeed each photo has its own “tempo”. By tracing the line my eye takes it seems that it always enters and leaves from the frame. In the case of the horse (point) photos my eye travels from the frame (at an opposite place to the point) and back to it. With the flower magazine pictures my eye is drawn from the frame, again at an opposite place to the focus point of the flower (centre) and out at another place on the frame.

There are many compositional guides, for instance the rule of thirds (which introduces an imaginary grid into a frame), the golden section (where a rectangle is divided into rectangles of smaller sizes in a ratio, inside this a spiral or a spiral pathway can be drawn) and diagonals to mention a few; however these all seem to enhance what your eye will do naturally: lead the viewer around the frame so they understand more about the relationship between the elements being conveyed.

To return to the questions posed in Part 1: There most definitely is a right and wrong place for a point and I do evaluate the position of the point by its relationship to the frame. I believe that I do this intuitively but I will definitely be more aware of this now and watch for this and departures from it in other photographers work.