alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘composition’

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  – additional 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.


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.


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.


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.