Archive for ‘Part 1: The Frame’

July 5, 2012

Part one exercise recap

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So looking back what have we learned in part one: the frame?

We looked at the different effects of zooming & shooting at different focal lengths. We played with depth of field (DOF) and it’s effect of emphasising a subject put from the background.
We covered a couple of ways to show a sense of movement. We explored what sorts of subjects work well in vertical or horizontal format. We touched on compositional guidelines and learnt some cool features of the cropping tool in LR.

We looked at position of subject in the frame and balance in photographs. How you can affect the tension in the image by playing with that balance. We looked at how your choice of horizon position within the frame would affect the image.

We analysed how your approach to a subject can yield photographs you weren’t expecting when you first started your approach, essentially an exercise on ‘seeing’.

Basically we demonstrated that there are a heck of a lot of choices that we make before pressing the shutter that deeply impact the resulting photograph, it’s not just about what we shoot it’s how we shoot it.

And, I started reading a bunch of really interesting books. I’ll post more on those as I finish them though.

Looking back over the new photographs I generated for and from the exercises, these are my top 5 photos so far.

Next up is the end of chapter assignment (for those that remember Nintendo platform games this would be the big boss at the end of the level). This assignment we have to print out, present and send to our tutors for official marking. I already know what I’m going to do for it but I’ll present it to you over the next few posts.

July 4, 2012

Exercise: Cropping

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The final exercise in part one (before the assignment) is about cropping your photos to be more pleasing. In fact, you can even think about how/if you’ll crop your photo as you’re taking the shot. For example, I often know before I take my photo that I’ll be cropping it square so I compose with that in mind. Anyway here are three different cropping examples where I show the photo being cropped and the final result.

When shooting these Zebra in Namibia I was on one side of the watering hole, I couldn’t physically get any closer and I wanted to draw attention to the animals and their reflections so I’ve chosen to crop down my image to panorama format. You can see the crop outline from the original image below.

For the square shot above I framed the photo with cropping square in mind. Pity I didn’t get it as straight as I would have liked – as you can see from the cropping below I also had to rotate the cropping square slightly. In my defence I was sliding down an indoor sand dune!

This rather abstract photo of yellow tube sponges was also shot with a square in mind, as you see from the cropping screenshot there isn’t much else in the photo outside the crop.

July 3, 2012

Exercise: Vertical and horizontal frames

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p62 presupposes that most photographers will mainly choose pick horizontal format for their photo as a starting point (because in general its easier to take a horizontal photo with most cameras). It is designed to emphasise vertical compositions can be more pleasing in certain circumstances and not to struggle to fit everything into a horizontal frame. I find that with my iPhone and my underwater camera that it is actually the vertical that is my go-to format. Sometimes I shoot both formats when I either cannot decide or have started off in one format before deciding it’d look better there other way. I show here a range of subjects, some look better in horizontal and some look better in vertical. The exercise calls for 20 photos of each which seems a little overkill to me so apologies if this post takes a while to load, I didn’t put all 40 photos up but there are plenty to illustrate the point. I have tried to minimise this by only showing a few examples in full (with the explanations) and the rest in a gallery format.

This was one example underwater with a decorator crab where my default vertical just didn’t work so well:

In this case it was the opposite, when this little pink sea slug “stood” upwards the vertical format made a much more pleasing composition:

These trees in Namibia work equally well in vertical and horizontal because they are tall enough to work with the vertical and the extra tree balances out the horizontal format:

June 28, 2012

Exercise: Balance

by Suzy Walker-Toye

For the exercise on balance I have completed the sketches of where I think the balance is for these photographs in my paper logbook. I wanted to show the photos here as well though because my printer rendered them rather badly (dodgy little uncalibrated canon – that’ll teach me).

June 27, 2012

Exercise: Positioning the horizon

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p57) is all about how your choice of horizon placement affects the photograph. I couldn’t quite find an unbroken and clear horizon but I got up as high as I could and took these shots of the London skyline horizon with my iPhone. I tried to pick a cloudy day so they wouldn’t blow out too much. but the even then the dynamic range of the camera wasn’t good enough.

The photo above shows a very low horizon placement that emphasises the sky as the main element of the photo, which in this case it isn’t really an interesting enough sky to justify that.

With the placement in the middle both the sky and the land has equal weighting. In this case the main interest is in the thin strip buildings in the middle. I would be tempted to crop out the boring looking roof top in the bottom section of the photo.

In this one there is not much sky at all and the foreground building really isn’t interesting enough to justify this horizon position.

The photo above isn’t part of the exercise but it seemed a shame to go to the roof of one new change taking photos and not get a shot of St Pauls. As you can see for the exercise I deliberately didn’t include St Pauls because it breaks the horizon too much.

Again, I can’t seem to go to one new change and not take a version of this shot. As the sky is always different it always has a different feel to it. This one is nice and moody.

June 20, 2012

Exercise: Focal Lengths from different view points

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Continuing the Focal lengths project, the exercise on p49 is designed to show perspective distortion. When trying to take the same photo with two different focal lengths (I used different levels of zoom) we see the distortion quite clearly.

First the telephoto. I zoomed into this doorway on the Guildhall buildings in central london. This is taken at 95mm and notice the lines are straight:

I walked forward until I could get the same (or as close to it) view through my lens at 18mm. Notice the distortion of the perspective:

June 19, 2012

Exercise: Focal Lengths – Zoom from one place

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So the exercise on p47 is designed to show how just by changing focal lengths you can change the whole context of your image. For example, here I’ve taken a few detail shots of a church. It could be a church anywhere in the UK, a nice tranquil village green perhaps? The clock detail below was taken at focal length 130mm.

For these next two shots, I zoomed out a little (95mm and 50mm), hints of the buildings behind the church show that it might be in an area with some housing, maybe a town centre? Still pretty leafy though.

Standing in the same spot and just by zooming out you get a whole new context for this church which is actually in the centre of London right by 30 St Marys Axe (known as the gherkin building to you and me). Bustling with cars and city workers on their lunch break. This shot at 18mm shows the contrasting architecture, the old and the new juxtaposed.

June 17, 2012

Exercise: A sequence of composition

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p44 is a little contrived but I thought I’d have a go. It’s supposed to show how you think about a scene. When I went to the skate park for the panning exercise these guys on the background sprucing up the graffiti caught my eye. I don’t shoot many people shots, so I took this opportunity. This is the sequence of shots and what I was thinking along the way.

I spot these guys adding their artwork. I zoom in to take the shot (I’m behind a railing so I don’t get taken out by one of the skateboarders):

I zoom out a little to check the effect on the lighting in the scene with a wider viewpoint (the guys have moved for a second but if this shot had have been nicer I would have retaken it when they were back). I did like the light and the sense of depth but ultimately the white gameboy on the nearest column is too distracting.

I zoom back in, but further this time since the guy with no hat didn’t come back yet. I think I zoomed too far, the wheels of the yellow bin are too close to the bottom of the frame. Also, he’s facing away from the wall asking his mates for another can of spray paint which leaves in dead centre in the frame which doesn’t look great.

Once he’s turned back around, I tighten the frame on him a little.

This last one didn’t look too bad but I wondered what it would look like vertical, just as he stretched up to do a bit higher up:

I decided to move along to see what the view of his friends would be (from there I’d also be nearer to where the skater boarders were skating).

The composition of the last one wasn’t bad but they all looked a little bored. The girl moved across and provided a little more interaction between the characters:

A large piece of graffiti caught my eye so I zoomed in for a detail shot.

At this point I start my panning exercise and start shooting the skater boarders.

June 16, 2012

Exercise: Object in different positions in the frame

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Part one of the course is all about the frame. Composition in other words. The exercise on p42 is about placing objects that are set within a large, clear background in different positions within the frame. I actually did this exercise underwater in grand Cayman with the help of my little blenny friend. These blennies live in small holes in the coral, which in this case is my large background.  It is nice to show the environment that these little fish live in but it can be tricky to decide where in the frame to place them. The blenny (for the most part) is facing directly out at the camera so we don’t need to think about giving the animal some space to swim into. This is the view I finally went with:

It’s not cropped, I just moved closer to the blenny than in the other photographs. This is a pretty standard rule of thirds composition. Below is a small gallery of some the other positions I put the blenny in the frame. You can see the placement in the frame from the thumbnails because the image is so graphic, however if you click them that will launch the larger sized images.

The rule of thirds is only one of the many composotional frameworks you can apply to what might make a more pleasing photograph. Some of the others are the diagonal, golden ratio and the golden spiral. I have only just started Michael Freemans book (from the course reading list) but I’m sure it must go into all of these in detail.

As I was researching this post I made an excellent discovery about Adobe Lightroom! The crop tool actually has these tools as crop overlay guides so you can use them to help you crop your images. I took of screenshot of the golden spiral overlay, where you can see the spiral ends at the blennies head. You can rotate the spiral overlay by using the shift and O keys as a shortcut (O, not 0).

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