Friday, 17 February 2012

Exercise - Positioning the horizon

Subject - Cemetery

For this exercise I had to find a 'viewpoint outdoors that gives you a reasonably interesting landscape in which there is an unbroken and clear horizon' - not as easy as it sounds when you live in a city.  I made the obvious choice, and headed for the cemetery.  It was quite late in the afternoon and there was a slight orange-pink tint to the light.  While there was no direct sunlight on the foreground, the sky and clouds were quite bright, making metering tricky.  I tried to keep the range of images as consistent-looking as possible with regards to exposure, without over or under-exposing those at the book-ends of the sequence.

The first and last of the sequence, as I thought at the time, do not work very well.  This is due to a lack of detail in the foreground in one case, and not enough drama in the clouds in the other case.  By the third image in the sequence, the horizon is positioned one third of the way down the image, and I think the composition is a lot more pleasing.

With the horizon at exactly half way, I think the image is surprising balanced.  While it is possibly 'static' I do find it quite harmonious and I believe this is because the equal proportions of sky to land is mimicking the symmetry in the other axis (between the left and right side of the image).  The next image is my favourite, with the horizon a third of the way up.  We can see more of the cloud formation while placing the detail of the gravestones and trees at a nice level in the frame.

These final two photographs, as I explained before, do not work as well because they are beginning to cut out the detail of the gravestones.

As I was leaving the cemetery I thought to myself: will people mind if I take photos here? Is this private property?  I'm not sure what the answers are, obviously I wouldn't take pictures of anybody while they were visiting, but perhaps someone might mind anyway.  If I ever go again I might try and find a gravedigger someone working there to ask permission.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Exercise - Balance

Here I have taken six of my already-taken photographs (I decided to use holiday photographs - some made using a 'toy' digital camera - the Digital Harinezumi), attempted to identify the dominant areas of the image and then to show how they balance each other within the image to create some kind of harmony.  Sometimes the dominant areas may only be small but due to their colour, tone, detail, interest level or placement may still dominate the photograph.

What I have learnt here is that strong colours are dominant or 'heavy' and therefore to achieve balance it helps to position them towards the extremes of the image or to balance them with for instance larger areas of  less intense colour, or an object with interesting detail.  Horizontal symmetry creates a simple balance as shown in two of the images above, and open space can be used to create balance in a frame.  This is shown quite well by the image in the top-left where the two characters in the foreground need the open space and blanket of colour to balance their presence.

It is strange to look at and analyze my images in this way.  I think I will have a look through some more old pictures and continue this further.  It raises a question - was I consciously aware when taking these photographs of creating visual balance in the frame?  Perhaps not - maybe it just happened naturally - certainly some of my images are not balanced properly and would be better if they were, but I will endeavour to be consciously aware in the future and see if that helps.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Exercise - Focal lengths and different viewpoints

Subject - Apartment building

For this exercise I was required to take two photographs of the same subject, the first from distance using a telephoto lens, the second from close-up using a wide-angle lens.  The purpose is to highlight the change in perspective different lenses can produce.  I chose to photograph this apartment building from an angle so that the wide-angle shot would highlight the depth in the image compared to the other image i took from across the street using a longer focal length.

Left - focal length 53mm, Right - focal length 16mm
I think these images have demonstrated this effect quite well.  While they fill roughly the same space in the frame and are taken from similar angles, they are completely different images.  The first at 53mm is as you would expect, quite flat and lifeless, however, the verticals are straight and true so in that sense it as a correct reproduction of the actual building.  It is difficult to gauge distances within the image, such as from the fence to the building or the tree. The image at 16mm demonstrates massive converging lines - the building appears to be falling over backwards - due to the angle of the lens pointing above the horizon.  There is much more of a feeling of depth, life and vibrancy to the image with the distances being exaggerated due to the wide-angle lens.  The front wall of the building has been transformed into a wedge shape whereas before it was an almost regular rectangle.   I find wide-angle image much more interesting, even if it is falling over backwards.