alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘Summilux’

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.

 

 

 

 

Shadows of Light

Shadows of Light

 

In my last post ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’, the shadows referred to people or refugees, whereas in this shot made on the same day, shadows are formed by the strong sunlight as it pierces through the leaded light mullioned windows of the cloisters in Chichester Cathedral.

To emphasise these shapes of light I have increased the contrast, darkened the foreground, obliterating any detail in the flagstone floor whilst retaining  minimal information in the wall and around the windows themselves.

Do click on the image to view a larger version which will open in a new window.  

‘Shadows of the Wanderer’ in Chichester Cathedral

This is a truly wonderful and thought provoking exhibition by the artist Ana Maria Pacheco, which is currently on display in the North Transept of Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, and runs until the 14th November.

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (6 of 10)

 

There are ten figures all wearing dark robes, each one carved from a single lime tree, with eyes made of onyx.  The two central figures, again carved from a single piece of wood, depict a man carrying an elderly person. Based on Virgil’s Aeneid from 29BC, Aeneas carries his lame father on his back to escape the burning ruins of Troy. The other figures in the shadows have very differing expressions and postures, which provoke a wide range of emotions in the viewer. As you take in the scene it is impossible to escape the synergy with todays issues of migration and people fleeing from their homes in a stricken country, all seeking refuge in another place.

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (3 of 10)

 

I rarely photograph art installations or exhibitions, as they can turn out to be nothing more than record shots. However I felt this was different, as the sculptures gave themselves to a form of portraiture, which also allowed me to make a set of images which I hope does justice to the artist’s work.

I was very fortunate to find myself in the Cathedral at a time when a single shaft of light from a high window moved through the ‘shadows’ to illuminate just one figure in the scene, almost as if the light of God was showing them the way.

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (10 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (8 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (2 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (5 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (7 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (9 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (4 of 10)

 

Shadows of the Wanderer (1 of 10)

 

For further information and to read more about ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’ please click here.

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in a new window.

Creative use of depth of field in Snowdonia

Sunlit fern

Sunlit fern

 

It was not until the summer of last year that I finally decided to go full frame, and purchased a second hand Leica Monochrom. I had previously used APS-C (Nikon) and Micro 4/3rds (Olympus) cameras. One of the principal reasons for my decision was the potential to use minimal depth of field more creatively in my work. The combination of a full frame (35mm) sensor, coupled with a large aperture, has given me photographic opportunities which were simply not possible before.

However just blurring the background doesn’t necessarily giving a pleasing result. The out of focus areas are still important to the overall appearance of the image. Blurred shapes, tones and arrears of light of shade still influence how the image is viewed, even though the eye may initially be drawn to the main subject of the picture which is in sharp focus.

The main photograph I have included in this entry is I think a good example of what I am trying to say. Taken on my recent trip to Snowdonia, the bright early morning sun was shining on small area of bracken in a wooded glade, whilst a path in the middle ground weaved its way down to the waters edge of Llyn Dinas.  I tried to visualise how the background elements of the image would be rendered when out of focus and whether or not the shapes of the trees would enhance the overall composition. You can of course try and visualise what the image might look like if everything had been in focus. I didn’t take a shot with a small aperture opening so I cannot make this comparison. My feeling is that there would be too much going on. The foreground and background would be fighting for attention. By using a narrow depth of field I have been able to isolate the sunlit fern which is the principle point of interest. The blurred background informs the viewer about the setting, complimenting the main subject and enhancing the overall appearance, but in my opinion it is no longer a distraction.

Here is another example – This image was taken in the woods near Capel Curig.

 

Autumn saplings

Autumn saplings

 

I am not saying there isn’t a place for landscape images which are very sharp from front to back. I take a good many myself, but increasingly I prefer to shoot wide open (50mm at f1.4) and by doing so I add another dimension to the composition, which until last year was not possible.

Click on either image to view a larger version which will open in a new window. By doing so I think you will appreciate the photograph just that little bit more.

Tryfan – a majestic mountain in Snowdonia

Tryfan

Tryfan

Never having been to Snowdonia in Wales before, my mind conjured up an image of what I might expect to see. Mountains certainly, deep valleys, yes of course, brooding clouds and light casting its spell on the landscape; well hopefully all of these combined in one picture.

With this imaginary view in my mind, I was delighted to make this photograph of what must be one of the most majestic mountains in Snowdonia, apart perhaps from Snowdon itself. Tryfan is just over 3,000 feet high and its dramatic profile leads the eye down towards Llyn Ogwen, a lake which lies at the foot of this rocky peak.

From a vantage point on the northern side of the valley I waited for the morning light to break through the clouds, illuminating the lake and the valley in the distance – and the view I had visualised became a reality.

At the mountain’s peak there are two monoliths, which from the valley floor given the appearance of two people who have reached the summit. They are called ‘Adam and Eve’ and are only 1.2 metres apart. For those brave enough to step from one rock to the other, it is said that you gain the ‘Freedom of Tryfan’.

I’m no climber so I am just happy to admire ‘Adam and Eve’ and Tryfan from a distance!

To view a larger version click on the image.