A place to think about composition in photography

Lighting

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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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.


Cray Barn

Another Easter shot taken in the Yorkshire Dales at  Cray near Buckden

Cray Barn, Yorkshire Dales

Cray Barn, Yorkshire Dales

Laying down to get this shot with a wide angle lens meant that I could get the foreground detail in focus while still showing the context of the area.

If you look carefully you’ll see the barn in the distance is slightly out of focus, this is deliberate.  The contrast in focus makes the foreground seem sharper.

The deep blue sky was enhanced slightly with a polarising filter when I took the shot.  An added advantage was that the polariser took out some of the reflections from the grass making the green leaves a more intense colour.

A lovely walk on a lovely day and a nice picture to go with it.

My wife, Jayne, liked it so much she made my Easter card from this picture.


Blue and White

A bit of winter sunshine, taken in Greece.

Looking Up

Looking Up

I was drawn to the simplicity of the stark geometric shapes and reduced colour palette.

This is a block of flats, painted white to reflect the merciless heat of the sun, with a blue sun screen canopy on the top floor.

I thought about photoshopping the bushes that stick out from each floor, but they break up the brutality of the architecture and add interest.  These distractions from the strong composition add interest that makes the viewer look longer.

The thought processes can flash through one’s mind – “I wonder what they are,  Ah, herb bushes.  Someone must look after them.  A hint of humanity.  I wonder what it’s like to live there…”

Composition is more than pure geometry, it gets engaging when our curiosity is linked to people, even in small ways.


Tree Shadows

We were staying with some friends in London.  I like London a lot.  I first came here when I was ten, on a school trip and my love for this city has never left me.  I am always impressed by the quiet spaces  and secret places that London preserves to insulate us from the noise and rush of the city.

One sunny morning I spent some time in quiet contemplation on the balcony.  I was looking at the London skyline and watching the jets glide overhead, wondering where all those people were coming from and going to.  Then I looked down.

I didn’t have my ‘proper’ camera to hand, so out came my trusty iPhone again.  A quick dust of the lens and I had this picture.

tree shadows

tree shadows

Threes are often quoted as a pleasing number for composing pictures.  I do have an iconoclastic streak when it comes to rules, but in this case I’ll go along with that.  Especially when it helps to be playful with the language.

This works for me.  I hope it works for you too.