There are some advantages to being in ‘Lockdown’. Not many I admit, but it’s vitally important to remain positive and make the most of every day.Read more
This shot was taken 9 days ago at West Wittering. A day or two later the beach car park was closed and access became more difficult. We need to drive to this location so it’s now out of bounds and is likely to be for some time to come.
This marker post is I think a rather poignant reminder of how we might be feeling at the moment.
Alone and separated as the waves of change ebb and flow. A dark sky hangs overhead but there is light on the horizon. Our lives have been put on hold, our daily habits altered, we can no longer visit friends or loved ones. But we have been given a new found ‘space’. We now have time to reflect and consider what is truly important in our lives, which in the ‘rush’ is all too easily forgotten.
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.
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.
My stay in Pembrokeshire last week coincided with the pending arrival of Storm Doris. The naming of severe storms in the UK has become a convention since 2015. One of the ‘tour’ locations on the itinerary was Porthgain Harbour which lies on the north west coast. A pretty little hamlet, its name translates to Chisel Port, for it was once was used for quarrying. First it was slate, then brick and later granite were all shipped from this place. Now it’s perhaps best known as a tourist attraction with a choice of excellent places to eat and a couple of fine art galleries. In calmer weather there would also be a few fishing boats but I guess these had been removed from the harbour for the winter.
We first visited Porthgain in the afternoon, a couple of days before ‘Storm Doris’ was due to hit our shores. The sea was calm and the sun was setting in the west, so there was no direct light on the old Harbour Master’s Office at the end of the quay.
A couple of days later we returned for a very stomach satisfying lunch of fish and chips (what else?!) and timed our visit to coincide with the incoming tide and the arrival of the storm. It had been very gusty in the morning so we expected some dramatic seas. However as the wind was blowing more from a south westerly to westerly direction and not from the north west, the harbour was somewhat sheltered from the brunt of ‘Storm Doris’. Nevertheless the waters were very rough and as wave after wave hit the rocks, plumes of sea spray were being blown into the air.
Believing the sea would still be quite rough the next day, we returned again in the morning knowing the light would be falling on the Harbour Master’s Office. With clear skies it did, but the sea itself was surprisingly quite calm, so a wide angle view of the harbour was the best shot to be captured in the circumstances. The old brickworks are clearly visible on the left hand side.
As mentioned earlier The Met Office started naming storms in the UK in 2015. The idea to raise people’s awareness of forthcoming bad weather, which might cause damage, flooding or even loss of life. I do understand the need to do this if a severe storm is expected, but to my mind ‘weather warnings’ are now issued all too frequently. In the past heavy rain and high winds would have been accepted as normal and quite regular events during the winter; today though they come with yellow and amber warnings, which may or may not prove accurate anyway.
On this occasion ‘Storm Doris’ was much more severe in other parts of the country than in Pembrokeshire, which only goes to prove how difficult it is to forecast the weather even with all the technology and computer predictions available to the forecasters.