Exercise: Positioning the horizon

This was an exercise in dividing the frame into two or more distinct areas. A scene with a strong horizon was required and having selected a view I then shot a series of potential ways to frame the scene in a way to potentially capture the elements in a photograph.

This takes the framing to one extreme. With the horizon close to the top of the shot the texture in the recently harrowed ground dominates but on reflection, the shot doesn’t look balanced and the sky looks almost pointless (and over exposed). Probably would have been better with no sky at all.

By introducing more sky, a 1/4 sky and 3/4 field, balance feels better and the hedge starts to to draw you in. Lots of texture from the field which is one of the key points of interest. I like this shot because te texture of the field balances the simple sky.

Almost at the other extreme, lots of sky, probably 3/4. This looked great in the viewfinder because of the sky but actually doesn’t look as rich here, probably a bit over exposed in the top right. The impact of the lines in the field has been all but lost, the field just looks flat and the hedge doesn’t draw the viewer in as I hoped it would.

This is better, the field comes more into the frame, the hedge line starts to pull the viewer in again.

This is a 60/40 view in favour of the field. This for me is the most effective shot at capturing the field texture but the impact of the hedge is compromised by being chopped too far into the shot.

My favourite shot, I like the height of the hedge running the the full extent of the vertical axis, enough of the field to get the lines and texture all then offset by the clear sky. The frame is nearly 50/50. All the elements are in place, field, sky and the hedge which along with the lines in the field, pulls the viewer in almost like an arrow.

Another fascinating exercise, without moving position, changing lens or even focal length the framing of the shot can be changed dramatically and the impact of each element changed significantly, most noticeable for me was the impact on the hedge.

Exercise: Balance

This exercise was all about understanding balance. I’ve used 6 of my most popular (!) photos and tried to assess the balance in each shot, looking for the dominant features and how that is balanced by other elements of the shot.

This shot, taken at Ivinghoe Beacon, uses strong lines to pull the viewer in from the base of the shot. The furrows are sharply in focus but with a shallow depth of field, the strong lines are softened as the photo rapidly falls into increasingly softer focus. There is also a clear line almost halfway up the shot running horizontally which aids the balance of the shot.

Something completely different. In this shot (Brill Windmill), the windmill dominates the right hand side of the photo but the balance comes from the family sat on the bench with plenty of clear sky above them. Its a scale thing, the space and simplicity of the left hand side of the photo balancing the apparent mass of the windmill.

In Burnham Beeches, a shot taken straight into the sun using the contrast between light and shadow to balance on the horizontal line splitting the photo,

A shot I found much harder initially to see the balance in. I think the simplicity of the green leaf is in contrast to the detail of the insect captured in this macro shot.

This shot, taken at the Kop Hill hillclimb in October 2011 has the dominant motorbike and rider crisply in focus set against the blurred background giving the sense of speed. The black and white conversion creates strong contrast between light and shade but actually its the central placement of the foreground object that creates the balance in this shot.

Millennium Bridge, December 2011. A long exposure shot, there are strong lines created by the bridge, these would dominate were it not for the strongly lit St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background. Although the horizontal ‘sky line’ is splitting the photo 2/3 to 1/3, this is the line of balance separating the bridge from the rest I think. I’m not 100% sure in this shot like the insect shot earlier.

This was a fascinating exercise and really made me think about my photos. Some I scanned through were extremely obvious, others much tougher to identify, perhaps because although I like them they don’t exhibit great balance. Its certainly true the simpler the shot, the easier it was to see the balance.