Exercise: Multiple Points

The exercise for multiple points used the construction of a single ‘scene’ to develop understanding of how multiple points can imply shapes and lines. This was about building an effective still life. The photos below document the building of such a photo using a series of objects (in my case, tools from my tool box) using the camera in a fixed position (tripod mounted). By using a prime lens (35mm) I was unable to adjust the framing as the scene developed, instead I had to experiment with the position and location of objects to create a final grouping that hung together visually.

The photos represent each major change or addition to the composition.

All shots ISO 200, f/13, 1/30 sec, 35mm (prime lens)

Using a combination of my garden and trusty toolbox as a backdrop, I began by placing a chisel in the frame.

Next I added a small spirit level and mallet, I chose to place the mallet this way up in contrast to the chisel for the sake of interest.

I tried the hacksaw behind the mallet and chisel but it was lost, even at this stage. Attempts to balance it worked better with the mallet reversed in position so that was the first change. I quite liked the ‘N’ created by the chisel, mallet and hacksaw at this stage.

Adding the plane, I decided the chisel and the ‘N’ it created looked great but only whilst there were few objects in frame so I reconstructed the arrangement putting the ‘business end’ of the chisel and mallet together with the aim of keeping the view looking towards the middle of the frame.

I began to add some smaller tools, pliers and a screwdriver. Initially I stood these against the toolbox but that didn’t look great as the composition started to look like a row of tools in a catalogue, not a photo!

Tape measure and spanner were next to join, the smaller tools were starting to feel a bit lost as they lacked the black background of the toolbox, at this stage I decided to complete the initial placing of the tools in the frame before trying to correct.

With the final tools added, I tried to ‘tighten’ the arrangement up by moving the tools a little closer together. This helped but I started to feel things were a bit too linear again and a bit untidy. The red of the plane was also distracting. I could see a triangle in the arrangement but it wasn’t clearly coming through.

So the final image, I’ve moved a couple of objects, first I changed the position of the black multi-tool to break the linear feel in the centre of the frame, I also turned over the plane taking away the red. In the process I realised just how many of my tools are black and yellow (no, its not an advert for Stanley!!).

The final composition has two triangles implied (annotated above), the first to the outside of the arrangement, the second within it. Although all the tools are quite angular, the combination of vertical, diagonal and horizontal lines breaks the image from just looking like a row of tools.

As the exercise suggested, this took a while to put together and to be honest, I had two completely false starts before achieving a result I was happy with. The complexity generated by multiple points, particularly when the objects are all different shapes and colours presents an interesting challenge but quite enjoyable to final resolve.



Exercise: The relationship between points

In this exercise the objective was to look at what happens when two isolated objects were present in the frame and the impact that has. The two images below were taken specifically with this in mind (recognising that this isn’t a typical way to compose a shot).

ISO 800, f/11, 1/500 sec, 275mm

In this image, although one swan is nearer (and slightly larger in the frame), I find myself more drawn to the furthest bird by virtue of the fact I can see the head. For me however there is an implied relationship between the swans, the further bird appears to be watching the feeding swan, perhaps wondering what tasty treats have been discovered! This creates a line, an implied relationship connecting the two. The fact the two swans are both close to the edge of the frame makes more of a feature of the space of water between them two. I find this quite hard to determine the stronger point but I think it is the more distant bird due to seeing all of it and the fact it is looking back at me, the viewer.

ISO 800, f/7.1 , 1/5000 sec, 300mm

Taken when the scene was slightly less serene (hence the vastly higher shutter speed!), this shot taken from St Anthony Head lighthouse, has a dominant gull larger (and sharper) but with a second bird to distract from that focal point. To me, I start to imagine the two birds having entered the frame together before the closer bird peeled off to his right whilst the second bird simply carried straight on. There is definitely a connection, emphasised by the fact they are both gulls but also by the closer bird sitting at an angle that suggests a turn is in progress whilst the background bird is on a flatter trajectory. In this case the closer bird is definitely the dominant in drawing your attention but does not have exclusivity in that respect.

This final image illustrates the special case of two eyes where both points attract equally and how you as a viewer can not resolve the composition.


Exercise: Positioning a point

So begins The Art of Photography part two, ‘The Elements of Design’.

This first exercise is all about looking at position of a single point in the frame. The three photos below look to illustrate my thinking in placing a single point in the frame in the three potential classes of position.

ISO 200, f/22, 1/60 sec, 24mm

This shot places the point centre frame. Other than simply illustrating the concept of placing the point centrally, my thinking here was to show how the windmill is quite detached from the surrounding environment being simply central in a field. I chose to take the photo from this position as not even the footpath leading up to it are visible showing how apparently cut off the windmill is. My me, it isn’t a great photograph, the subject looks very static and uninteresting, almost lost in the frame. You could argue a tighter framed image with the point arranged as it is here would improve the composition but unless you really tighten the composition and fill the frame, for me the windmill loses impact in this position.

ISO 200, f/10, 1/500 sec, 18mm

This time I placed the windmill, my point, slightly off centre. Although the path helps position it, this feels a little more interesting than the centre framed version, the balance is held by the different undulation of the horizon behind the windmill, the peaks being higher to the right where there is more space in the frame.

ISO 200, f/13, 1/160sec, 14mm

The third shot pushes the point to the position where it is close to the edge of the frame. My thinking here was to position the windmill such that it opens up the environment standing almost as a sign to direct the viewer onto the village beyond which sits just below the horizon line. This has slightly unbalanced the image but I like it although perhaps the vast amount of clear sky from the left across 2/3rds of the frame is actually asking to be used for a title, ‘Welcome to Pitstone’ or similar!

I was quite surprised myself liking the third image of the three on this occasion, I’d never normally knowingly place a single point quite so close to the frames edge but in this exercise, having considered the composition opportunity of a single point being the windmill, this worked best for me.

All three frames were shot at Pitstone Windmill, Pitstone, Bucks. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/pitstone-windmill/