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Part 2 – Elements of design

Here I am, finally about to complete my second assignment, maybe there is hope I can finish this degree before I turn 30.

For this assignment I needed to take into account what I have learned so far to create suitable images in this particular subject, I chose food.

I had a hard time with the planning process, I have just done a big shopping so I was fairly certain I will have enough things to photograph and once I started, the ideas came relatively quickly.

Then I made an awful mistake! I always shoot in raw format so I never really check the format before I start shooting, when I first picked up the camera I was always panicking if I got the settings right well after the shoot…well yes, too late! But for some reason I changed it to the smallest jpeg possible and shot the entire assignment with that setting. Not annoying at all. Luckily they turned out okay, not entirely happy with the exposure but i was close, I couldn’t do much post processing having so little information stored within the smallest jpegs, not great quality at all. I was very tight on time so I couldn’t re shoot it, massive lesson learnt, ALWAYS check the format BEFORE shooting.

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Single point – apple

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Two points – apples

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Several points in a deliberate shape – strawberries forming triangles on their own, adding apples in a line created a rectangular shape.

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Vertical and horizontal lines – uncooked spaghetti

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Diagonals – uncooked spaghetti, placemat’s pattern

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Curves – olives, orange juice and red win in glasses, lemon balm in a pot, coasters and placemats

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Distinct shape – cauliflower

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Implied triangle, apex at the top – blueberries in the middle of strawberries

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Implied triangle, apex at the bottom – strawberries in the middle of blueberries

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Rhythm – uncooked pasta layout as the cut changes , pasta and biscuits

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Pattern – biscuits

I shot everything using natural light and directly above the subjects.

Looking through these photographs I think rhythm and pattern worked particularly well, second place for me are the implied triangles, I got the idea to stand strawberries rather than just throw into the bowl than create a triangular shape out of blueberries. Since I needed to create an inverted triangle I realised I can do the same but inverting the fruits as well.

What didn’t work so well I think is the vertical and horizontal lines, not a very interesting composition, also the single point and points, although it is from a less obvious point of view and I couldn’t fill the frame with them because of the minimum focusing distance of the lens.

I feel I gained a lot from these exercises, the creative thinking behind every shot, thinking about framing and placing different elements into the composition, I feel I am getting more confident and definitely takes less time to create a better photograph than before. I am looking forward to what comes next.

 

Feedback and reflection

Please find my tutor’s report here.

Admittedly I rushed to send off this assignment and I awfully failed in post processing as well as shooting in low quality JPEG instead of RAW, I forgot to correct the white balance and adjusting the exposure as there are some blown out highlights. My tutor sent the corrected images back and encourage me to have a look at them again, so I went back and corrected all of them.

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On a positive note I was pleased to hear that I have done a good job with lighting contrast; my still life technique is well above the student average for Level 1; and I have a good eye for propping, arranging, composing and for the light. My coursework continues to be clean, concise and effective, which is also nice to hear.

What I need to improve on is incorporating more research into my studies, I have started to read Charlotte Cotton’s and Liz Wells’ book, but I have to spend more time on them as they are harder to read unlike Michael Freeman’s Eye for Composition and Design which is much easier to understand. I need to create separate blog entries for books, which I find challenging and slow process in a second language, sometimes I find myself thinking on a single sentence for 10 minutes, I am aware that this is something I have to work on as well. I also changed the layout of the blog as requested, creating a ribbon menu on the top of the page for assignments.

 

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So what is the difference between rhythm and pattern? They are both repetitive in a way, but rhythm has a definite direction, an optical beat. The task was to fill the frame with both of them to create a stronger composition.

Since I only own prime lenses the only choice for me is adjust framing simply “walking around” the subject. I was lucky to spot this abandoned building since I was looking for something similar for ages, also very lucky that it was facing to an open field so I could walk back as much as I needed to compose my picture. Although the elements of this building aren’t the same colour, it creates the rhythm with its shapes, layout of the windows and the roof tops, the eye wanders from the left to the right and back.

rhythm

This second photo was taken at the same place as the previous, the beach was only couple steps away. Since the water level was really low at that point, I could walk into the sea without getting my feet wet, that’s when I discovered this amazing pattern created by the nature itself. While rhythm has one direction, pattern leads the eye to different directions continuously.

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I am very pleased to complete all these exercises, for example I wouldn’t have thought I can create an interesting looking image of something simple like the seabed or boring as an abandoned house. Without doing this consciously, I would probably composed it differently, maybe not even filling the frame. They are making me think outside of the box and teaching me how to see differently. I am excited what comes next.

 

After analysing horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, in this exercise I am going to study triangular shapes how they effect the composition of an image. Being one of the simplest shapes, it builds up from two diagonals and one horizontal or vertical lines, creating a form that will inevitably point somewhere, generating a sense of movement and dynamism.

Real triangles

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My first image is a close up of a wooden road board ( Is that the proper word for this? ) showing where the best part of the world is… Yes I am kind of obsessed with them. The yellow diagonals of the board enhances its triangular feature even though the last piece, the vertical is missing.

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Another shot of the Southport bridge here from a different perspective, there are three triangular shapes, looking at it as a whole and the main vertical element of the bridge separates it into to triangular sections as well.

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The last detail shot of a lovely lace top photographed indoors against the window enhances its triangles. Rather obvious, there are many of them, looking at the whole neckline and three smaller, concentric ones towards to the top of the frame.

Implied triangles

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For the second part of this exercise I needed to create still-life arrangements to illustrate implied triangles with the apex at the top and the bottom as well. For my eyes these aren’t particularly pleasing, it doesn’t feel natural nor effortless even though I also tried to position the table and change the viewpoint accordingly.

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However I found that this element works a lot better with people. I took this photo on a friend’s wedding, since I wasn’t the official shooter, I couldn’t get the angle right without disturbing the pros, nevertheless the composition as the bride and the groom holding hands forming the “bottom” of the triangle and the minister being the “apex” at the top worked well.

It was very interesting to see how the mind sees and finishes the shapes, filling the gaps according to Gestalt theory and how it helps to create interesting images. Now I can consciously look for these elements when I am about to click the shutter button.

The next project is about using lines in composition, and for this particular exercise I needed to choose a subject that is either moving or looking somewhere therefore the viewer’s eye wanders with them, demonstrating implied lines.

Starting by analyzing two given photographs, I could discover several dynamic movements – bull and horses are moving forward and turning to side, man is moving his red cape, the other man is running towards the horses – as well as eye-lines – man looking at the bull, man and horses looking opposite directions.

Since I love tennis and I was lucky to be around professional players when our local tennis club hosted a tournament, I decided to take photographs there for the task and for fun too. As well as shooting during games, I was also walking around the practice sessions to capture candid moments of them getting warmed up.

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The first photo features both eye-lines and pointing lines, the arrow by the eyes not entirely accurate to show in two dimensions as he isn’t really looking to the side, nevertheless he is still looking somewhere outside of the frame. As he is training with his right hand, stretching his arm to the left side of the frame, creates a line that point. I found this a well balanced composition because of the lines are pointing to opposite directions.

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The second photo was taken in “action”, he just hit the ball and he is following it with his eyes while he is still swinging the racket, again, both eye-line and pointing lines are demonstrated.

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The last image is similar to the second, she follows the ball with her eyes and about to swing the racket to hit the ball while her whole body is moving to the same direction.

For the next exercise I needed to capture motion and direction in form of curved lines.

This first image I chose is the back side of the hotel in Fuerteventura. The lighting enhanced its shapes and the reflection created by the pool made it an interesting looking composition showing direction rather than motion.

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Long exposure night shot of the holiday hotel by the pool.

The second photograph captures the soothing waves of the ocean, in this case it has a sense of movement as well as direction, from the right of the frame to the left.

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Ocean waves on the beach in Tenerife.

On the third image there is the feel of direction as the eye walks from the left side of the frame to the right and back, right on the edge of the pool.

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The edge of the pool and the roof in the top right corner of the frame.

The last and my favorite picture was taken from a similar height to that mountain on the opposite side of the beach. There are several curved lines: the road, the beach line, different colours of the beach and the water, the stone wall to protect the beach from waves. I think this image is the best of all in terms of illustrating the sense of movement and direction, many concentric lines strengthen each other creating a stronger sense of motion.

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Beach in Tenerife from a high point of view.

 

For this exercise I was deliberately looking for obvious diagonal lines, to find the first image I walked across this bridge in Southport. As the lines are converging into the top of the bridge, the dark area make them look they are almost floating, it creates a very dynamic image, my eyes were drawn to that area straight away.

The second image was rather obvious even from great distance because of its triangular shape as well as the lines between the windows.

diagonals 1

Marine Way Bridge in Southport

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The Shard – London

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My bedside table, the book and morning light created shadows

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Cable car cables all the way up to Teide, the volcano in Tenerife

The third image was born as I woke up to a sunny morning one day. I slightly changed the position of the table to enhance the sun and window blinds created diagonal lines as well as I added extra contrast in post production to help define those shapes. I prefer this photo over the others, I like the fact that it was created for a short period of time unlike man-made objects.

On the last photograph the cables are running up to the volcano diagonally, I took this photo from the other cable car going up while the one I captured was going down.

The purpose of this exercise is to discover horizontal and vertical lines as they are appear in nature.

Since I started this course creating images for different purposes, I found myself looking at things with a different eye already, constantly seeking different shapes and compositions, similar to the ones I already done for the course.

Horizontal lines

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The horizon above the clouds at sunset, well defined horizontal line

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Whitby pier, the horizon line and the line of the clouds

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Artificial light out of focus (bokeh)

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Sailing boats close to each other

 

Vertical lines

3. verticals 1

A cat with its tail up

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Palm tree trunks

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Flamingos, especially their legs

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Interesting looking flower in Tenerife

After I completed this exercise I realized I took many of similar subjects so I needed to go back and swap a few images, also noticed that I included 4 examples of the suggested subjects. Instead of the human standing figure I chose the cat, I was thinking about a road from a high viewpoint but I couldn’t get high enough to create a perfect horizontal line, nevertheless I hope I managed to illustrate how horizontal elements create calm, stable and static image while verticals give a dynamic, comforting and more pleasing composition.