Assignment 2: Elements of design

The aim of this assignment is to bring together all the elements of design covered in this chapter through a set of photos. I chose to select my own specific subject matter for this exercise, largely because of an unexpected opportunity to photograph the former US airbase at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire. The site, semi-derelict for a number of years offered an interesting range of subjects and despite a chilling wind, we were blessed with a sunny afternoon in early January.

The first image illustrates curves, a suggested triangle and the size of the hanger in the frame means it completely dominates the image as a single point.

ISO 200, f9, 1/160, 15mm

The second image shows a single point. Whilst it is clearly the focal point of the image it doesn’t dominate the photo, the road running past the derelict building creates a strong diagonal line through the frame.

ISO 200, f9, 1/160, 21mm

In this image we have two points. Whilst the hanger and the rusty ‘box’ are of very different scale, the composition allows both to occupy key points in the frame and both to be focal points for the viewer.

ISO 200, f6.3, 1/50, 24mm

Another image of the hangers. This time the two hangers fill a significant portion of the frame and give two points to focus on. The use and positioning of the sunlight draws extra focus to the smaller of the hangers in the frame, the sunlight creating a diagonal line to this hanger too.

ISO 200, f9, 1/250, 31mm

This image taken earlier in the afternoon has more hangers in the frame, multiple points. The position of the hangers splits the image in three, despite them being orientated differently. The road/runways in front of the hangers give a strong diagonal line to the bottom right corner.

ISO 200, f11, 1/160, 20mm

Moving away from the hangers, a different kind of derelict building. I’m not altogether sure what this building was used for. Inside it had been stripped of all traces of previous use. The combination of pillar, balcony, ladders and railings gives a strong linear feel of rectangular lines.

ISO 200, f9, 1/20, 35mm

Looking from a control tower, a very different view to the desolate runways and hangars. This view shows part of the former airfield in use as a car store. The strong diagonal runs from the left hand bottom corner. The clusters of cars offer a multiplicity of points.

ISO 200, f9, 1/200, 15mm

Picking a more detailed view, a very obvious collection of lines were under our feet on the tarmac, curves and in this case diagonals.

ISO 200, f6.3, 1/80, 31mm

Back to the hangers, a well positioned puddle gave a chance to illustrate the curves. Combining the hanger and its reflection creates an oval, additionally the puddle perimeter itself features curves. A single hanger gives a single point of focus to the image.

ISO 200, f10, 1/250, 15mm

Another detailed view, here a collection of angular but distinct shapes have come to rest and settled in a unordered pattern.

ISO 200, f9, 1/50, 53mm

Another detailed view, one that in my eye implied two opposing triangles. I’ve illustrated these by red lines in the second image.

ISO 200, f9, 1/60, 15mm

A different view of the hangers as the sun began to set. Using the silhouette effect caused by the contrast between light and dark, the hangers seemed to connect together in a stretched implied triangle, an effect partly achieved by removing the details in the buildings.

ISO 200, f8, 1/3200, 28mm

Another detail shot, this time the top of the roof line of the hanger. Heavily cropped, the shapes suggested a rhythm along the line, almost like strange musical notation.

ISO 200, f8, 1/800, 70mm

The final image, picked out in the concrete wall of a building shows a repeating pattern formed from strong diagonals.

ISO 200, f5.6, 1/100, 46mm

Exercise: Rhythms and patterns

In this exercise (the final exercise within Elements of Design) the study was focused on repetition. The course notes suggested a contrast with the creation of a rhythm or repetitive beat in music. This was something that struck a chord (no pun intended) with me as a musician although looking at my photography prior to this piece of study, it has not been a particularly strong element of my composition skills. That said, I found it much easier to identify repeating patterns!

As suggested in the course text, the repeating pattern extending across the full frame helps the eye extend the idea of the pattern.

ISO 800, f4.5, 1/40, 35mm

I found cutting a rectangle frame out of an object (in this case a round ‘bowl’) changed the way I looked at the pattern.

ISO 800, f5.6, 1/25, 78mm

This image crossed the boundary for me, perhaps it’s my legacy of computer based music making but the patterns of circles immediately suggested a rhythm (straight 4/4 of course). I filled the frame using a diagonal to make the most of the available natural light that fell on the subject.

ISO 200, f32, 1.3″, 100mm

This image for me says rhythm, again my musical background is probably playing a part but the drying patterns on the concrete look like musical waves.

ISO 200, f9, 1/90, 53mm

This time a different kind of rhythm, perhaps syncopated.

ISO 800, f5.6, 1/1600, 200mm

This final image was all about a rhythm. A new set of coloured pencils at Christmas had already been put to work by my eldest daughter and picking carefully I was able to arrange similar lengths and sharpened/un-sharpened pencils to form a repeating pattern.

ISO 800, f5.6, 1/125, 85mm

The example photographs here although split into pattern and rhythms show there is definitely a crossover of rhythm and pattern (and also subjective views no doubt of what forms an optical beat).

Exercise: Real and implied triangles

An exercise as part of the chapter on shapes. Here we were looking at triangles, both of the actual variety and the implied.

The first two examples here are ‘real’ triangles. The first shot was taken on Coombe Hill near Wendover. Using partly perspective but also the shape of the construction, this forms a triangle.

ISO 400, f9, 1/60sec, 15mm

This second shot was taken looking up through a car park staircase, the centre cut-out being a triangle.

ISO 1600, f9, 1/40sec, 15mm

Next it was the turn of implied triangles, here three faces (thanks Annie, Immy and Rosie) make an implied triangle by connecting the focal points of the three faces.

ISO 400, f4.5, 1/100 sec, 35mm

The last two images show a ‘still life’ arrangement (of the contents of our fridge fruit/veg drawer) arranged first to imply a triangle with apex at the top…

ISO 1600, f4.5, 1/20 sec, 28mm

and then inverted.

ISO 1600, f4, 1/20, 26mm

After this section of the course, I realised just how many triangles are out there, especially of the implied type. They are actually seem more prevalent than circles or rectangles. Interesting.