Posts tagged ‘composition’

Question – How simple can it be?

Answer – Not as simple as the title of this post would suggest.

When composing an image I have often read: ‘It’s not what you include, it’s what you choose to leave out’. Just think about that for a moment. It’s certainly worth having that thought in mind when you are framing your next shot.

I have always been drawn to simple compositions. A complicated image with many elements can be a challenge to appreciate, there can be just too much going on. The emotional reaction to a busy image can be one of excitement or tension, whereas an image with simplicity at its heart can be quite the reverse, being both quiet and restful. But even with a ‘simple’ image there are still choices to be made, so I thought it would be interesting to analyse the four photographs in this post. They all share the same viewpoint and were taken during the blue hour after the sun had set.

The composition of first image which is shown below is split into three broadly equal parts. The upper third being the sky, the middle third the sea, and the lower third the movement of the lapping tide where it meets the shingle shoreline. In essence a very starightforward composition.

In the second image I have stepped back from the shoreline so the bottom section has less detail. The horizon now intersects the midde of the frame revealing more of the sky. And lastly the exposure time was longer than the first image, which has resulted in less texture in the water. In my view this is now a simplified version of an already fairly simple image.

The third image shares much in common with the second. The horizon still splits the frame in two, the exposure time was about the same, but crucially the shoreline has been left out. Instead of three main elements there are now just two; the sky and the sea. A further simplification but as a consequnce you might now ask yourself the question whether this was taken from dry land or out at sea. Not only is this third image simpler than the previous two versions, it evokes a very different feeling.

In the third image you might have also noticed that I did adjust the colour balance, but what happens if all colour is removed and the photograph becomes monochrome? Again it’s a further simplification of the scene. There is little or no detail in the sky and the juxtaposition of warm and cool tones (above) has also been lost.

It is not for me to say which is best or which one I like best, they all have their merits in my opinion. However I hope they illustrate the point I wanted to make in this post. What might at first glance appear to be a simple scene, the photographer is still required to make a number of decisions. What to leave in and what to leave out. How fast or slow should the shutter speed be. Where does the horizon line sit in the frame. What colour balance should be used or should all colour be removed. Some of these choices can be made in post production, others must be made before the shutter is pressed. Undeniably though each of these choices will have an impact on the final image; how it feels and the emotional impact it has on the viewer.

As an aside the last photograph in the series was inspired by the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. It also just happens to be my most ‘liked’ photograph on my Instagram account.

Arguably it is the most simple composition I have ever posted – so is simple, simply the best?

Elgar’s Lost Sanctuary – alternative compositions

I have long been an advocate of ‘working’ a subject – in other words taking time to explore different compositions of what is essentially the same subject. I don’t wish to assume that the first choice of viewpoint and lens selection will make the best photograph. The temptation of course can be to pursue the obvious and then walk away believing the job is done.

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Elements + Aspect ratio = more choices

In my previous entry which you can read here, I posted three images all of the same subject but with differing compositions, aspect ratios etc. I received some interesting feedback so I have decided to post four more versions which reflect some of the comments made.

This first shot again features three groynes but I have moved round so the groynes in the background are no longer in the frame.

This second shot is the same as yesterdays image but instead of a 5:4 aspect ratio it is now 3:2.

Again the same file as I posted yesterday but it was suggested that I move the groyne slightly to the right instead of it being centrally placed in the frame.

And finally the same image as the one above but instead of a 1:1 aspect ratio it is now 5:4.

For comparison here are smaller thumbnails of the three versions I posted  yesterday.

I think this selection of images demonstrates a number of points. Firstly that its worth taking a good number of frames when on location unless you are very confident about the finished image you have in mind. Secondly the various permutations are endless and these images concentrate on composition, aspect ratio etc, we haven’t even touched on processing. Thirdly, whilst I try and crop in camera, sometimes it pays to have some additional space around the subject so that other crops are possible. And lastly isn’t photography and being creative good fun? I think so!

Thanks to all those who responded to the first post  Рadditional comments would be most welcome.

 

How many elements + which aspect ratio = different results

The three images which make up this entry are essentially the same subject but in terms of their composition are all quite different. Through this post I want to illustrate the decisions we have to make each time we make a photograph and what we can learn from the process.

Groynes

The first image above, uses a classical 3:2 aspect ratio….the same as any 35mm film or full frame sensor. The composition is balanced with three groynes, with the one in the centre arguably being the most visually interesting. The distant and out of focus groynes on the horizons provide both context to the location but also depth. I think it’s important to have retained separation between the left hand groyne and those in the distance.

Groynes-2

The second image shares the same elements but is further simplified as only two groynes are included in the frame. The distant groynes are a more important third element in this picture, creating a triangle with the groynes. There is added space between them and the much shorter groyne on the left hand side, which gives a more open feel to the shot. The aspect ratio is now 5:4, the equivalent of a medium or large format film camera.

Groynes-3

And finally the third image. The single groyne fills more of the frame and is clearly the main focal point. The distant groynes are less intrusive but still play a key role in providing context and depth. The 1:1 or square aspect ratio, is one I particular like and lends itself well to this more minimalist composition. This aspect ratio mimics the 6:6 medium format ratio found in the classic Hassleblad 500 series of cameras.

So do I have a preference as to which image I enjoy the most? The first picture is too busy for my liking. Increasingly I find myself drawn to simpler compositions. The second image has a little more tension as the three elements form a triangle and I like the fact that one of the groynes is much shorter than the other which adds visual interest and feeling of openness. The third image is simpler still, but might be even stronger if the distant groynes were not in the frame.

It doesn’t really matter which image you or I prefer, although I would welcome your comments. What I wanted to demonstrate is how a relatively simple subject can be treated in different ways. What do you include and what is better left out? Your choice of aspect ratio and how this can impact on the end result. How simple or complicated do you want the composition to be?

For all these reasons it makes sense to me to truly explore or work a location and subject. Look around, consider the visual relationships between all the elements in the frame and at the same time think about a variety of aspect ratios and how these may improve the final image.