A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “lighting

Easter Tulips

I went to my parent’s house the other day. Mum had been given a bunch of tulips that she had put in a vase by the window.

We are a close family and I’m one of the lucky ones that still has Mum and Dad around and in good health (long may that continue)

As I put on my coat in the hall I happened to glance round at the tulips.  The sun shining through the window brought out the intensity of the colours in both the flowers and the garden beyond.

Easter Tulips

Easter Tulips

The hall window has patterned glass and the leaf pattern seemed to harmonise with the green of the sunlit lawn beyond.

I’m happy with this picture, thanks Mum and Dad.  By the way, this is another one taken on my iPhone.  No photoshop treatment apart from slight cropping.



Fountains of Light

This time the title refers to Fountains Abbey, a world heritage site in Yorkshire in the UK. The 12th century abbey ruins are lit by coloured lights for Christmas and the opportunity to take photographs is irresistible.

Here are some of the pictures that caught my eye, I hope you like them.

Stone vaulted chamber at Fountains Abbey lit by coloured lights

Stone vaulted chamber at Fountains Abbey

If you’ve not been, I can recommend this place.  It has a tranquil beauty that is enhanced at night.  Here is another view of the same place.  I’m deliberately using the rule of 3 in this picture.

Vaulted columns at Fountains Abbey

Vaulted columns at Fountains Abbey

Let me know what you think, I’d be fascinated by your comments.

Butter pats

Humble things attract my attention, especially if well lit.

Butter pats at Erddig by Adrian Nixon

Butter pats at Erddig

This slanting sunlight gently picked out the detail of these wooden butter pats on a whitewashed wall at Erddig in Wales.

The level of detail is especially pleasing as all the light and dark tones have reproduced nicely in this picture.

It radiates a kind of timeless calm for me.  I could come back on another summer day in a hundred years and still find the same scene.


I like the contrast of ideas as well as colours in this picture.

Moonlight - copyright Adrian Nixon



Simplicity always wins for me.

This is a straight shot with very little modification apart from a slight bit of cropping.

Let me know what you think

Content Contrast

Having too much of one theme in a photograph can sometimes be ok but is ok good enough?

Try introducing a contrast of content as well as colour in a picture and you can improve the composition and make it more interesting.

In this first picture you’ll see the contrast between the door, the bottle and the brush, boldly human artefacts.  the flowers in the pots add a splash of contrasting colour as well as a natural touch.

I shot these photographs a few days ago at Parceval Hall in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales.  A lovely place.

doorstep flowers 1
Doorstep Flowers 1

In the comparison picture I moved a little to the right

Potted Flowers
Potted Flowers

Can you see how the brush is now a distraction and not part of the composition.

The overall effect is nice , partly because your attention is brought more explicitly to the reducing height of the pots that echo the steps on the left of the photograph but I prefer the first picture as there is more interest.  The bottle brush and door bring the human presence into the imagination, I wonder who lives there?

Composing with limited palette and colours

The limited colours made this picture attractive to me.  Just the white of the snow and the shadows are blue light reflected from a clear winter sky.



snow lines

The photograph has an abstract quality, it is very difficult to know what part of the landscape this is. The composition is very simple too.  the repeating horizontal lines are the first thing the viewer notices and this gives the sense of calm.

The viewer then notices the detail within the horizontal elements, there are lots of complex shapes within this seemingly simple picture.  Looking closer you will see lots of snowflakes.  This is not the snow as it fell but is caused by partial melting and recrystallisation of snow over several days in very cold, dry conditions.



Selective Lighting

The human form normally dominates any photograph so when people are included in landscapes I find that some element of balance is required.

The picture below illustrates this approach using selective lighting to highlight the dog while the people are in shade.

IMG_4001bThis picture was made possible by the golden evening sun shining through a narrow gap.  having found the light, it was just a matter of patience waiting for the right combination of interest to come along.  It might be called planned luck.