Exercise 1.4 Frame

“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 section you’ve composed… Select six or eight images that you feel work well 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.”

All of these images were taken with the camera on auto settings. I put two sets together – one of poppy seed heads which I photographed as a 3×3 grid and one of a cog in the corner of a window, which I photographed with the cog in 4 separate corners of the frame.

Auto setting meant that the colour varied more than I would have liked from frame to frame. The window set appeals to me because the grid is almost cubist – my brain wants to see the cog actually moving around the window from corner to corner, whereas in reality the whole actual corner is moving around the frame from corner to corner; the cog is in the right place but the window corner isn’t. I only took five of the cog so this grid only has the four images. Exif settings are ISO100, 1/200second, between f4 and f5.

For the poppies, I imagined a 3×3 grid and I photographed a single seed head in each cell. I think it worked quite well, though disregarding the rest of the frame meant I did  have the edge of a poppy petal in one shot. I don’t mind that too much, in fact I think the bottom row could work as a triptych. Looking at the exif data, all images were taken at f5 1/200sec ISO100 which makes me wonder if I accidentally used a different setting to Auto. Note – I wasn’t happy on the lack of resolution on the grid from Photoshop so have redone it.




Exercise 1.3 (2) Line

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)….

This part of the exercise took a bit more thinking about. I photographed a narrow boat passing under a canal bridge, but there’s part of the bridge showing. I also took some photographs inside, to try to get a better camera angle. but it was quite difficult and I need to do some more practice. In the end I did some without the tripod.

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

It may be down to my choice of subjects but I thought that the overhead shots felt rather more static. I wonder if you had an overhead shot of someone on a footpath, would it carry the same sense of motion as one showing the same person towards the end of a path receding into the background? My images here feel more self-contained, whereas those in the first part of this exercise feel as if they are part of something larger. In some cases it’s harder to identify the subject from an overhead perspective too, it’s certainly a relatively unfamiliar perspective. I think the Laszlo Moholy-Nagy Marseille image has a very strong abstract quality to it, it is reminiscent of the ubiquitous Orla Kiehly leaf print.

Notes on cropping and framing

To me, framing is how you choose the edge of your image at the point when you take it; it’s determining what will be on the image perimeter and checking for composition and anything that’s not wanted. Cropping is an action that’s applied later, when you can change the shape and aspect ratio to further emphasise/de-emphasise/remove particular elements in the composition. I would agree with Victor Burgin, some of my shots especially the boat ones do present as a ‘cropped view’ rather than ‘a transparent window on the world’. It’s an interesting line to tread, to compose an image that isn’t instantly recognisable but that is also clear enough.

Exercise 1.3 (1) Line

Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth.

These were taken at the park and on the canal tow-path. I still find it hard to work in auto mode on the camera, it’s frustrating to see all those blown highlights that don’t have to be blown, and my camera tends to over-expose on auto mode.

It was interesting to look for lines in the surroundings, I am sure I missed loads even though I filled all the remaining space on the memory cards. I was intrigued by how you can still get a sense of depth from a series of broken horizontal lines as well as from a continuous lines receding into the background. I learned from this exercise much more about how the eye is led through an image depending on how the image has been composed. I also learned that lines, points and curves often go together.

Exercise 1.2 Point

“Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame. …evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.”

This was more interesting than I expected it to be. It was good to reduce a photograph to such basic constructs. I did struggle with using Auto  mode though, I missed the control over exposure for indoor images. I used live view and a tripod for these images, and they have been auto-toned. No other changes or cropping so you can also see the dust on my sensor. Please double-click on the first image of each set to open full-size.

It’s very hard not to see the first set as a sequence, which implies movement as the tablet moves down through consecutive frames then back up again.  The first one, in the centre looks fairly static, stable and not very interesting.  The second looks as it’s an accident, my favourites are the two last images as they suggest a bit of unbalance and almost look as if the tablet is bouncing from one frame to the next. I have a longing to photograph a point out of frame, which I think could be done by moving the point out of frame for an image, then moving it back in. I think the viewer would “fill in the gap” by deciding where they thought the point would be relative to the empty frame, rather like those old Spot the Ball competitions in the papers.

Out of interest, I did another set using the intersections on the rule of thirds grid. These look rather more balanced, but also as if they could be interesting. I don’t know why the rule of thirds works so well, but it obviously does. The tablets each look as if they’re meant to be there.

Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame. Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame?

I took these images at the park, they show a steel cup that a child can sit in and spin. It has three small holes, I like that you can see through them and that they are points, but negative points defined by the absence of steel rather than positive points of something. These images are more abstract than actually of something. One has the point “bitten” out of the frame, I think this is probably a place where the point isn’t in relationship to the frame, but it still works for me because my eye tracks the darker grey curve and continues past the “bite”.

I think there’s a sense of movement here, as mentioned in the course-notes from placing a point close to the edge, but also there’s a sense of direction from the lines. The point almost becomes a rolling, bouncing ball.

I have marked up one of these with the path that my eye took, also a screen grab of the image from the course notes. I have to say I always worry (probably stupidly) that these types of exercise will reveal that I am looking at images wrong. It seem very un-intuitive to analyse how I look at an image.

Exercise 1.1 Histograms

This exercise required me to take 3 or 4 photographs one after the other with the camera in automatic mode, then compare the histograms. Working in auto mode felt really weird, I couldn’t even remember which symbol it was on the dial. I used a tripod to ensure consistent framing. When looking at the histograms I was struck by:

  1. the fact that you can see the changes in the histogram
  2. the degree of change from almost imperceptible changes in ambient sunlight
  3. the way the camera settings changed
  4. I was also intrigued by the way the colour of the white page changed from shot to shot.

All images at ISO100. The flash auto fired for all of them, which surprised me.  First image: 06/07/2016 15:33:15, 1/200sec at f14. Second image: 06/07/2016 15:33:44, 1/500sec at f8. Third image: 06/07/2016 15:36:24, 1/200sec at f13 . Two images removed from sequence because of the cat photobombing them or the focus being off (hence the gap). Histograms are screen-grabs from Lightroom, no lens corrections or auto-toning applied.