Assignment two – Elements of design
I was most drawn to ‘street details’ for this assignment but, after some deliberation, I decided to choose my own subject; ‘Dereliction and Decay’. I decided upon this subject because I live in an industrial town steeped in history and abandoned buildings and, like most photographers, this is one of my favourite photographic themes. I also felt that this subject would be a little more challenging than ‘street details’, and in turn would force me to think a little more about my individual subject matter and composition. All of the exercises prior to this assignment are black-and-white to allow the elements of the composition to speak for themselves, I have decided to introduce a little colour to this set of images to show a little more creativity, however, the colours have been extremely muted in most cases.
Single point dominating the composition
For the first photograph of the set, I chose a fireplace in the bedroom of an old abandoned building. The single point in this image is fairly tightly framed rendering the effect elementary, the contrast between the wall and the inside of the fireplace also helps to demonstrate this. Unfortunately, I think that the image could have been made sharper and as a result, would exemplify the effect. In retrospect, this is the easiest of the effects to achieve, made even easier by the fact that it was quite tightly framed. I could have achieved a better quality image and one that would have adhered to the fundamental rules of technological photography.
I used an unhinged door on a floor and a window as the two points of focus in this image. With perspective, the door on the floor plays a very important role in the composition here and helps to lead the viewer into the second point; it also offers fantastic foreground interest coupled with the detritus and debris. The door, in this position, is in a very interesting place and almost looks like it has been kicked into the room off its hinges; it adds mystery to the image and almost leaves you wondering what happened here. The two points in the image are very dominant and the strong contrast helps emphasise the points. This is my favourite image in the set because of the composition and the mood that it conveys.
Several points in a deliberate shape
This effect in theory seemed quite simple but in practice was a little more challenging. I stumbled across a bunch of plastic flowers scattered on the floor illuminated by the late afternoon sun streaming through a large hole in the wall. All of the flowers lay where they are in the image and no modifications to the composition were made; they are not as prominent in the image as they were to the naked eye, especially since the colours have been muted. Had this image been in black-and-white, it would have had to have been subject to some extreme editing to help the points to stand out in the frame, I wasn’t prepared to expose the image to such alteration as it would have lessened in quality. The image is satisfactory to illustrate the effect but I believe that a better subject, or set of subjects, could have been used.
A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
The subject matter for this effect is a collapsed attic floor exposing the sunlight through a hole in the roof. The photograph was taken from directly beneath a floor from the floor below and reveals the structure of the wooden slats that run both horizontally and vertically through the image. Unfortunately, because of the light conditions, I was forced to use a high ISO which has created a very grainy and soft focused image. I am still unsure whether this adds character to the image or if it has lessened the quality; I think the latter. Perhaps a tripod would have been necessary.
I wanted to use some painted markings on an industrial boat that I had regularly visited since I was a child; it has been moored up at the side of the river Trent for many years. The markings are to warn of danger of some kind and are clearly painted on the platform of the boat. There was once something screwed onto the bars that run adjacent to the painted lines and help to continue the diagonal theme. This is a very simple image but illustrates the effect very well, the two bars in the centre help to anchor the image and give it some stability. The colour has been muted slightly to let the elements of the composition illustrate the effect.
I decided to use an old, broken barrel that I found on the deck of an abandoned boat. Every line in this image is curved, not one straight, expressing the nature of curves in a very articulate way. I’m unsure what this barrel was used for or of its age, but its character caught my eye. The subject had to be framed quite tightly to emphasise the effect and had to be shot from an angle to accentuate the curves; had it have been shot directly, it would have had a more linear effect. I converted this image to black-and-white to stress the compositional elements.
Distinct, irregular shape
This shape is very distinct because of the difference in pattern between the nice, flowery, undamaged parts of the wallpaper and the rather frail structure that lies beneath the plaster. The contrast of the light wallpaper and the dark shape is another reason that this shape stands out. The periphery of the shape has been made more dominant and obvious by the strong sunlight streaming through the window, illuminating the wall from the side and casting shadows that add definition to the structure. The soft light has created a gradient of shadow that deepens towards the top right of the image. Some of the shadow was lifted in Photoshop when it was converted to black-and-white, however, a fill-flash may have been beneficial to achieve a more even exposure ‘in camera’.
I have taken two photographs for the illustration of this effect. The first is of a decaying tractor sitting in an old farmyard. This rather tired looking vehicle exemplifies an implied triangle with the corners at the centre of both wheels and one at the face of the tractor. Although this tractor is very dilapidated, it is very bright in colour; the body is a vibrant blue. I have muted the colours so as to prevent distraction from the demonstrated effect. The triangle has been constructed and strengthened by the solid regular shapes that the corners anchor themselves to.
The second image is of a lobby, taken at the top of a set of stairs in a derelict house. The house has been uninhabited for some years, the accumulation of debris and the slow erosion that the house has been subject to, adds a lot of interest and character to the image. The most obvious implied triangle is constructed by the wall and the ceiling and is completed by an implied line forming between both of these points. The colours in the image have been muted to allow the compositional elements to govern the effect. I believe a deeper depth of field would have helped for these elements to stand out more; a tripod, a smaller aperture and a longer shutter speed may have been beneficial to this image.
There isn’t a vast repetition of elements in this image, but the rhythm works because of the angle of them; they almost create momentum with their leaning formation. The viewer’s eye begins in the bottom left corner of the image and is led up the first gravestone, down to the next and carried through the photograph. The tree plays a very important part in this image as it continues the premise. As the viewer, you can very well imagine the rhythm continuing beyond the frame and into the depths of the graveyard, diminishing with perspective. The muted colours have helped, once again, to stress the compositional elements; the tree trunk is a good example of this as it is now virtually the same colour as the grave stones. I really like this photograph as it adds a sense of drama, even light-heartedness to the graveyard; I can almost imagine the dead coming out to dance at night.
This is the final image of the set for this assignment. This photograph is of a tiled wall in a derelict bathroom, tightly framed and quite compact from the focal length, this image suggests continuity like the last. I like the fact that in this image, the pattern is carried through from: top to bottom, left to right, corner to corner; despite the seemingly consistent repetition, the pattern is broken slightly by the occasional rotation of the tiles. This varies the pattern enough to keep it interesting whilst still being repetitive enough to demonstrate the effect of pattern. It is a very simple image and therefore, there is little criticism I can make to the composition or technical aspects of the photograph; it demonstrates the effect well.
Since the first assignment, I have learned that I need to keep my work much simpler. I believe that I have achieved a far less complicated assignment, yet stuck to the objectives scrupulously.
It was very difficult to get a photograph for each of the effects when having only one subject to work with, however, I found that this opened up my imagination as it forced me to think about every possibility and opportunity to the full. I feel that the technical aspects of my photography have suffered a little because of the restraints of my subject, location or light but as a result I have developed understanding and even a little more style. My next objective is to incorporate what I have already learned with the technical ability that I possess and create exemplary work; I believe that this is simply a case of multi-tasking.
I feel that this assignment has taught me a lot and I have found every exercise in this part of the course very useful.