A place to think about composition in photography

portrait format

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.

IMG_7323a.JPG

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.

IMG_7323_.jpg

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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Looking Up

I’m playing with my iPhone.  Not a bad camera on this toy.

Kings Cross

Kings Cross


Friends

I’m exploring different ways of looking at people.

Two friends walking together

Friends

I like the contrast of the sharp graphic lines with the softer edges of the figures.


Creating a sense of calm

The calm is created by the rhythm of the repeating lines of the lime trees in this picture.  The repetition is  reassuring the more we look at the image.

I took a variant of this shot with some people walking down the aisle.  I found they altered the sense of calm. so I chose this photograph to share with you.  The mind can wander more when people are absent from a Landscape.

Avenue of Lime Trees

Avenue of Lime Trees

There are no threats to us here, it feels as though you could walk into the picture and explore the avenue in complete safety.  The protective canopy of the trees reinforces this subliminal feeling of care and safety.


Composing for Emotions

Emotions are tricky things.  It is so easy to get it wrong and strike a discordant note.

All photographs evoke an emotional response at some level.

In my experience pictures with powerful emotional content are rarely manufactured, and tend to be found.

I found this composition – I’m interested in what you think:

toy swing pram  copyright adrian nixon

Toy Swing Pram IMG_6395

People I’ve shown this to have reacted in the same way, it seems to pull at the heartstrings.

The composition is quite simple using framing and a central theme that compliments the portrait format.

The blurred nature of the picture seems appropriate too.

If you are affected by this picture I can offer reassurance if you leave a comment.


Increasing the tension in a picture

The landscape view

I liked this view of the boat, looking at it from below against a blue sky is an effective device.

Isolating the prow of the ship and including the mooring lines in the frame helps create a simple composition.

There is literal tension from your knowledge as a viewer that the mooring lines are stretched taut:

Picture of white ship against a blue sky

Landscape picture of a moored boat

The Portrait View

I like this view even more.

Using the portrait format allows an even more dynamic view.

The tension in the picture is increased because including more of the mooring lines makes it look as though the ship is rearing upwards trying to pull free from its restraints.

portrait picture of a moored boat

portrait picture of a moored boat


Urban Landscapes and the Golden Section

The Golden Section is a design idea that has been around for at least two thousand years and its purpose is to make a composition more pleasing to the eye.

Roughly speaking if you divide up a picture into thirds then things of interest are more appealing if they are placed on one of these lines and special points of interest are where horizontal and vertical lines cross.

I took this picture a few days ago, and liked it enough to put it in the blog.

Mill and Blue Doors

Mill and Blue Doors

I liked the picture but wasn’t sure what was behind this instinct.

I thought it compositionless (that is to say not conforming to any rules)  However when I looked more closely I realised that it was based on the golden section.

I have put the section lines in the picture below so you can see what I mean.

Mill and Blue doors with golden section lines added

Mill and Blue doors with golden section lines added

For comparison I took a similar picture with the doors set centrally:

Mill & blue doors central

Mill & blue doors central

Placing the interest centrally doesn’t work as well as being placed on the section line.