A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “Composition

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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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.


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.


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…