alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘street’

Main Exit – dissecting the visual components of a photograph

Main Exit

Main Exit

I often ask myself the question – ‘Why does a photograph interest me and hold my attention for more than a few nano seconds? What are the various components of the image that make it visually appealing to me and maybe to others?’

In answer to these questions I thought I would try and dissect the key elements of this photograph which I have called – Main Exit. Do click on the image to view a larger version as this will help you see all the detail in the picture.

To begin, the image is monochrome; obvious I know, but a colour image of the same picture simply wouldn’t be as interesting. This shot is all about tone, texture, contrast and the overall composition. Colour would be a distraction. There is though a subtle tone which has been applied in post processing, which may not be immediately apparent.

The main focal point is the man in the top right hand corner walking into the building. We can’t see all of his body or his head, but we do see a reflection of his pale jacket and he stands out against the dark background. White on black will always draw the eye. He is framed within a dark square which ties in well with the square crop of the image itself. It’s virtually a picture within a picture.

A square crop doesn’t always work but in this example I think it enhances the overall composition. There is a strong diagonal lead in line from the bottom left hand corner which takes your eye to the main subject of the picture. There are paler lines in the ground which also lead the eye. These are in contrast to the vertical lines of the modern windows. The ground also slopes upwards, so that the metal base of the building narrows to a point where it meets the man. This aids perspective and adds to the sense of depth.

Reflections always provide visual interest because they distort reality. The older buildings are all askew, there is half a car and half a waste bin. Behind the glass there is a person sitting down  which begs the question as to what’s inside and the purpose of the building itself.

Top right there is a sign which says ‘Main Exit’ but the arrow points in the opposite direction to the man entering the building – has he gone through the wrong door?

As well as being a contrasty image there is also the visual contrast of the new and old buildings, the young person behind the window and the older person walking through the door. The contrast in texture between the ground and the mirror like surface of the windows.

Lastly a border has been added to provide a frame round the image.

For me it makes a visually appealing image, as the sum of all the component parts make for an intriguing story, complete with different textures and tones, all held together by strong compositional and geometric elements as well.

I have found this exercise beneficial and I hope you have enjoyed my ‘dissection’ of a photograph interesting. Arguably the approach could work just as well on images that you don’t like, as well as the ones that do. It’s worth a try.

 

 

 

 

Out of the shadow – seizing the moment

Out of the shadow

Out of the shadow

 

I don’t regard myself as a street photographer but I do think of myself as an opportunist. With only my iPhone to hand, I was out and about and spotted the stark contrast between what I considered to be an interesting wall, with its mixture of windows and drain pipes, and the deep shadow cast by a building on my side of the road. I found it appealing but the missing ingredient was a person walking in front of the partly obscured window. I didn’t have to wait very long before a woman approached the scene, pulling a shopping trolley and with her head well wrapped in a head scarf. iPhone at the ready and the shot was taken.

The image was processed in Silver Efex Pro. I further accentuated the shadow, added some grain, and a border which I very rarely do, but I felt it suited this particular photograph.

An iPhone is a great street camera. Everyone these days seems to have a mobile phone in their hand on an almost permanent basis and if they aren’t looking at the screen, you know it will not be very long before they next do so. In essence they are totally unobtrusive and nobody knows you are taking a photograph with a smartphone because they are so prolific. They are virtually silent in operation and you could just as easily be texting your best friend and not taking a photograph at all.

So whilst for me a phone will never replace my camera, they do allow you to seize the moment when the opportunity presents itself.