Assignment One – Contrasts

As you have probably guessed by now, most of these photographs were taken on holiday as well. I love travelling, in the last few years I spent nearly all my money on holidays. I can say this with no regrets, nothing compares to all those memories and of course the opportunity to take the time and create photographs for this course too.

My first assignment is to create photographs which illustrate contrasts.  I found this particular task challenging, I was trying to find contrast within one picture; approaching, framing my subjects differently, using all skills gained from previous exercises.

Many / Few

1. many 1. few

I was inspired by the book [1] The photographer’s eye by Michael Freeman where he also illustrated “many” with fish, although those poor creatures were drying on a rack.
The first photo is a part of a huge, barrel shaped fish tank. This particular specie always swims in large groups which was really fascinating to see. Although the aim was to illustrate “many”, it also has a dark / light contrast too. The second image is illustrates “few”, but also has colour contrast, the cool toned water against warm toned fish.


Diagonal / Rounded

2. diagonal 2. rounded

The first photograph was taken of a beautiful house’s porch in Tenerife. I was captivated by the richness of patterns, which include diagonal shapes as well as rounded ones, I was initially opted for a black and white contrast. The tiles had been laid down vertically from my point of view but changing the angle made them look like diagonals. As the sun came out, the columns of the house created a perfect diagonal shadow across the floor which made it more interesting and definitely suitable for the purpose of this task. Sticking with the man-made theme, my second image is the top part of the Library of Birmingham which is “made of” rounded shapes. It also has a contrast of cool and warm tones too.


Large / Small

3. large 3. small

Still on the architecture topic, I found two really obvious contrast not just in shapes but in their names too. First stop is Big Ben of course with it’s 96 metre. I was trying to find a new angle and create something different than the other 15 tourist pictures I have taken in the past, to be honest I can’t remember what is that round shaped building in the corner but I think it is somewhat balanced the image itself as well as added extra contrast against Big Ben’s diagonal shapes. The second photo was taken in Wales near Conwy Castle. The chair on the right gives a good comparison to the sizes of the house and as you can see, it is the smallest house in Great Britain.


Liquid / Solid

4. liquid 4. solid

Back to nature, the first image is capturing a piece of the Atlantic Ocean with a tiny boat. Initially I was thinking about the “many-few” contrast, as I was revising my photographs i decided to illustrate “liquid” instead. I photographed this from the car window as we were driving so there was no time to think, probably not an excellent composition, I would have placed the boat a bit closer to the bottom of the frame and perhaps include a bit of the sky, nevertheless it fits to the purpose of this assignment. The second photo was taken on a beach in Portugal, there was this gigantic rock covered by tiny mussels lit by the gorgeous golden sunset light. I really like the mood of this picture, I love to use shallow depth of field to focus the attention to the colourful ones. Although I took this photo for the “solid” quality providing by the shells, the image also demonstrates colour contrast as well; metallic, cool tones against the golden background.


Curved / Straight

5. curved 5. straight

The first photograph was taken in the garden of the hotel I was staying in Tenerife. Thinking about curved subjects, bananas are pretty obvious, but instead of grabbing a bunch from a supermarket, I spotted my perfect composition in its natural environment. I have tried to frame it different ways and I decided to choose the one taken from a slightly higher angle. Illustrating the contrast, it’s the giant cactus land reaching up to the skies.

High / Low

6. high 6. low

Speaking of sky high, my first photo here was taken just before landing in Tenerife. I have been experimenting with airplane window shots since my first ever holiday abroad, but I never quite found the right angle or subject or both working with each other in the right way for my taste. Probably this is the first one I actually like, there is the proportion of the cool tones against the warm, the diagonal window edges against the curve shaped beach for added contrast. Landing on the beach and lowering the camera close to the ground, I captured these pebbles lit by the sunset light using the framing technique as I learned from the “Positioning the horizon” exercise, placing slightly higher to show more foreground. I really like the mood of this image, the cool and warm tones complementing each other well, makes me want to go back right now, sit down and listen to the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the beach.

Strong / Weak

7. strong 7. weak

Robust and delicate. These were my first thoughts when I started to write about these photographs. To illustrate “strong” I chose this old and huge tree with its “muscly” tree trunk. The late afternoon sun created harsh shadows are enhancing the features of the tree as well as adding extra contrast. There were too many distracting elements around this tree so I decided to fill the frame as much as I can, its features became more visible as well. To illustrate the contrast, I captured these tiny flowers somewhere on the side of the road. I like to use shallow depth of field to soften the background which also helped to create a more fragile look.

Smooth / Rough

8. smooth 8. rough

Gran Canaria and Tenerife, Maspalomas’ sand dunes and Teide’s volcanic rocks. My perfect examples for illustrating this contrast. This unique beach was exciting to explore, almost like walking in a desert. I tried to capture a pleasing composition placing the horizon to the upper third of the picture – as I have been experimenting in a previous exercise – and getting closer to the ground showing hundreds of footsteps. As it was an overcast day, it was easier to achieve a smoother look because of the soft light. The second image was taken of a footpath leading to the top of the volcano surrounded by sharp volcanic stones. I liked the idea adding the curved path to the composition rather then just quickly snap a photo of some rocks, it has also given a nice contrast and more interest to the image. This time I shot this in harsh midday sun to achieve an even sharper look.

Hard and Soft

hard and soft

Last but not least demonstrating contrast “in one picture”. This photo was taken in Tenerife , not far away from the volcano where NASA has been experimenting with its Mars-like terrain. Despite the rough conditions, I discovered a small bunch of Pineapple Weed peeking out of the rocks reaching for sunlight. I felt it is a good example to illustrate hard, rough conditions in contrast with the soft, delicate wild flowers.

[1] Freeman, Michael (2007) The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press, Page 34.


Feedback and reflection

Please find my tutor’s feedback here.

I was very pleased to read that my first assignment was very competent., my approach to the coursework is thorough and thoughtful.

I have been trying to focus on completing all exercises as well as the assignment equally, but I need wider research and reading the recommended books a lot quicker. I haven’t had a chance so far to join any study visits, I have only been using my general knowledge I picked up before starting the course, reading articles online, watching youtube videos etc. I didn’t make notes at that time so sadly I couldn’t use them as reference but this is something that I definitely have to start doing in the future. I have been enjoying Michael Freeman’s book, I will try and make to most of the knowledge I’m gaining about composition in future assignments and personal projects.

For the next assignment I have been advised to look for discovering and framing the subject rather than constructing it, creating images that have meanings. I do feel sometimes I am approaching tasks systematically rather than looking at the whole picture. I graduated from an economy school, I had to follow a system but I was always better at drawing, music and sports, now I just need to change the way I approach things which hopefully won’t be a long process.


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