A place to think about composition in photography

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Paraglider at Littondale

This weekend I was out walking in the Yorkshire Dales and met a group of members from the Dales Hang Gliding and Paragliding club at Windbank, Littondale Here is one of the pictures I took.

The main compositional device is one of vertical tension emphasised by placing the horizon low and using portrait format.

I thought you’d like to see the original image, so I have attached a jpeg that shows how the picture looked before the post production processing.

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You can see the original is less dramatic than the final,
(Canon 6D with an EF24-105mm lens at 40mm, with polariser and lens hood, ISO 200 f8.0 1/640s)

I used Affinity Photo to improve the image.  I thought you’d like to know how the transformation was done.

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The original RAW image was rather dark because the camera light sensor was exposing for a bright sky. Affinity photo allowed me to make a copy of the file with an exposure setting one stop higher. This is one of the advantages of using RAW files.  I saved this image and then used the High Dynamic Range (HDR) tool to merge the dark photo with the lighter one.  This essentially retained the best bits of both, improving the tonal range of the image.

A final touch was a minor crop to the left and right sides of the picture removed distracting figures.  The other figures were deliberately left in to provide scale and interest.

HDR is a useful tool.  I tend to use it sparingly because when I look at others’ work I see the HDR treatment first, then take in the composition of the picture second.

I’m learning when to use the technique so it enhances rather than distracts from the effect I want to create.

 

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Lifeboat House, Norfolk

If you’ve ever been disappointed with an overcast cloudy sky, it is worth noting that the calm even light is very good for details in a landscape.

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Blue Swirl

The National Trust is a wonderful part of British life.  Even better, they allow photography in their stately homes and precious houses.  Thank you.IMG_6387_7x5

Ghost at the Tate Modern

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Translucent glass at night makes for some attention grabbing photographs.  This one was taken with my iPhone outside the Tate Modern in London.  I’d been in to get my fix of the Rothko paintings, I find them deeply calming and never tire of them.  When I came out it was dark and as I walked down the side of the building this window caught my eye.  People occasionally walked past on the other side. There was something other worldly about the way the figures moved on the other side of the frosted glass.  As for the composition, I pondered whether to remove the vertical lines, and dark square shape at the bottom right.  I decided to leave them in as they connect and frame the main elements of the picture.  Namely the warm light, the figure the light rectangle in the background and dark black square in the foreground.  There is a slightly sinister touch of mystery that I find appealing about this picture.  Hope you like it too.

Red Poppies in Suffolk

I like poppies, the scarlet is a perfect contrast to a green landscape.  This caught my attention when out walking on holiday in Suffolk, UK.

I could have stepped a few metres to the right or left and captured many more poppies but you can have too much of a good thing.  Those of you with a composition mindset will notice the poppies are also placed almost on an intersecting third, but not quite. Again you can have too much of a good thing.

I wanted the contrast to work on a few levels, colour being just one, focus is another.  The intimacy of the poppies gradually makes you aware of the open space of the field behind.  Notice the horizon, it is right at the top of the image, a thin sliver of darkness against the diminishing blandness of the wheat field.  This implies the space behind the foreground is large but not infinite.

Look closer and you’ll notice upward slanting diagonals in the wheat field contrast with the slight downward slant of the horizon. In Northern and Western cultures our visual language interprets a left to right slope as up, optimistic, reassuring.  The bright colour against the wheat field is happy, positive, enthusiastic.

Red Poppies

Red Poppies in wheat field in Suffolk

I felt good taking this picture and still feel good looking at it now.

 

Le Tour – Kettlewell

The Tour de France comes to Yorkshire in July 2014 and the locals along the route have been decorating all the villages with a variety of yellow flags, jerseys and bikes.

The locals have a long tradition of set dressing their villages, many have scarecrow festivals, now they have a scarecrow on a bike

I saw this straw man just over the bridge into the delightful village of Kettlewell.  A friend of mine is lucky enough to live here.

Straw man on a bike at Kettlewell for the Tour de France

Straw man on a bike at Kettlewell for the Tour de France

The composition is fairly straightforward, the dominant colour is Yellow which advances and contrasts against the grey clouds in the background.  The main lead-in is the road, also look for two minor lead-ins that echo one another, the white dashed road markings on the left and the yellow flags offering a similar punctuation on the right.

Oh and this was taken on my iPhone.

 

Planning, Patience and Presence

I receive a lot of mail about the quality of light at the time the picture is taken.

Photoshop can only do so much.

Memorable photographs are created with a combination of Planning, Patience and Presence to respond to the moment. Or, as some may say – luck 🙂

Climbing the wall

Climbing the wall

This picture was taken at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  I knew the sun would shine through the wooden grille in the café.

The shadows cast by the people in the café caught my eye so I waited.  And waited a bit more.

Then a child started to climb the grille, and this is picture I captured before Mum gently brought her mountaineer back to earth.

This one catches my eye as I scan through the thumbnails of my collections so I think you’ll like it too.

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