A place to think about composition in photography

Landscape

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.

 


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.


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.


Waves

A self portrait this time.  Taken in Sheffield.  Getting closer to objective reality.

Self portrait with waves

Waves


Curves

Colours and lines attract me.

This picture is a variant on the lead-in style of composition.

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Curves

I like the simplicity of the composition, the dynamic sweeps of the curves are a powerful effect.

You’ll know I’m quite aware of the horizon in my pictures.  In this one the eye searches out a line and the only one that matches our preconceptions is the roughly horizontal line right at the top of the image.  This adds to the powerful effect and holds the attention. Well, it works for me anyway, tell me what you think…