Assignment two – Elements of design

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

Single point

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.

Two points

Two points

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

Several points

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

Horizontal and vertical 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.

Diagonals

Diagonals

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.

Curves

Curves

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

Distinct 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’.

Implied triangles

Implied triangle 3

Implied triangle 2

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.

Rhythm

 Rhythm

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.

Pattern

 Pattern

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Rhythms and patterns

Rhythms and patterns

Two images were necessary for this exercise, one to demonstrate rhythm and the other to demonstrate pattern. This is the final exercise in the ‘Elements of design’ part of the course.

Rhythm

Rhythm

The rhythmic beat in this image starts outside one side and finishes way beyond the frame of the photograph, you can almost imagine; its repetitive nature carries the viewer’s eye right through the image and almost leaves the viewer continuing the theme in their own head. It is eventually broken by a group of people on the right hand side; that is if you are going from left to right. If there were no people, the image would be almost perfectly symmetrical; does this mean that everybody’s eyes would be carried through the image in the same direction? I asked a few people which direction they thought their eyes travelled in the image, the answers varied. Most people started in the centre of the image and were inclined to go left, I think this is because of the obstruction the rhythm faced on the right; the people. I tend to agree. I think that the wide focal length has helped to convey the beat that flows through like a small bouncing ball above some music lyrics.

Pattern

Pattern

For this shot, I decided to shoot a shelving unit full of shirts in a clothing shop. I took a step back from the unit and took the picture with a focal length of 40mm to compress the subject slightly to fit better in the frame. Again, like the first image, you can imagine the shirts towering above, beyond the frame; there is no way of knowing the boundaries of the unit because of the tight frame. It’s a very stable image thanks to its geometric composition. The strong contrast helps the pattern to dominate the image and the patterns on the shirts add interest and divergence, breaking the repetition just the right amount for it to still be considered a recurrence. It is quite a static image and doesn’t have any direction like the first image, the viewer’s eye doesn’t really know where to go and as a result just meanders over the photograph.

 

Conclusion

In this very interesting exercise, I have learned that by using rhythm you give a sense of direction and by using pattern you get a very static image. They are completely opposite in this respect but the same in the sense that they are both conveyed using repetition; without repetition, you could not create either. Incorporating rhythm into an image can create a very melodic and almost bouncy photograph, it becomes fun to view and  a very innocent and child-like sense is born. Pattern is a lot more serious and is assumed, like rhythm, to be continued beyond the frame.

 

Real and implied triangles

Real and implied triangles

This exercise requested two sets of three photographs, one set of ‘real’ triangles and one set of ‘implied’ triangles; each with a triangular composition. I’ve split the images up into the two sets and labelled them accordingly.

Real

Reflection of Dead Wood (subject itself triangular)

Reflection of Dead Wood

These dead and dry branches shape a few triangles in this image but they are formed with a little help from either a reflection or the edge of the frame. The contrast has really helped to pick out the fashioned shapes and have given them definition. The shapes above the water are mirrored in the reflection on the surface. Initially, when you first look at this image, you see four or five; the more you look, the more they just keep appearing; I have counted in excess of ten triangles in this image.

The Exchange, Nottingham (triangle converging at the top)

The Exchange, Nottingham

By perspective, four converging triangles have been formed in this image. The most dominant triangle and the one we are focusing on for this part of the exercise, is the triangle at the bottom of the image; this is the centre’s floor. With the floor being lighter, clearer and free of detail, it has governed the image; it has defined itself and is the first thing the viewer notices. This triangle adds strength, stability and power to the image.

Victoria Centre, Nottingham (triangle converging at the bottom) 

Victoria Centre, Nottingham

Clearly, this triangle dominates because of its sheer size and how much space it exploits in the frame, it is also helped to be noticed by the lights that run through the centre of it. The viewpoint is much different from that of the previous image, perhaps the previous image may have benefited from a similar viewpoint but in reverse. The contrasting contours on the periphery of the triangle help to shape it.

Implied

Still life project forming a triangle with the apex at the top

Still life forming a triangle with the apex at the topThe edge of the table acts as the base of the triangle and the tip of the wine bottle as the apex. Each object has been strategically placed so that its highest or most outwardly point helps to construct an implied line and therefore, a triangle. The knife has been deliberately positioned to carry the viewer’s eye into the centre of the image and has helped fabricate an apex of the implied triangle.

Still life project forming a triangle with the apex at the bottom

Still life forming a triangle with the apex at the bottom

The dried damson at the forefront of the display act as the apex of the triangle, completed by the two flower heads furthest away from each other. Although the stems of the flowers contour two of the three sides of the triangle, it doesn’t stand out more than the one in the previous image.

Three people arranged in a group

Three people arranged in a group

For this picture, I took a candid shot of three people all sat in a beer garden on a rather gloomy day, I thought this shot had character. It’s quite a simple shot and demonstrates the objective very well; the triangle, with its apex at the bottom, is formed by the eyes and heads of the group as they look at each other. To reinforce the theme, I decided to include the little triangular flags in the top right of the image to repeat the premise.

 

Conclusion

I have learned in this exercise that incorporating a triangular shape into an image can add stability and interest. Stability can be introduced by the use of a level base, which we already know from the ‘vertical and horizontal lines’ exercise; formed by perspective, they can add a sense of direction or movement. I think that everything that we have learned separately in ‘vertical and horizontal lines’ and ‘diagonal lines’ we have learned to incorporate into one image in this exercise, if the triangle is cleverly formed. This, of course, wouldn’t work in every scenario. The triangle is a very simple shape to integrate into an image and so versatile and easy to create, but the result of the image can be very profound and complex. I will strongly consider using triangles in more of my images as the results are so diverse that a triangle could benefit an image more often than not.

Implied lines

Implied lines

The first part of this exercise is to illustrate the implied lines in the two images provided in the course material; Threshing Corn in Sicily by Gotthard Schuh and Corrida by Michael Freeman. I have sketched the two images, scanned them into the computer and then illustrated the lines using arrows in PhotoShop. The second part of the exercise requests that we use three of our already taken images and perform the same analysis and illustrate the results, the third and final part is to take two photographs that use the following kinds of implied lines to lead the eye: an eye line and the extension of a line.

Part 1

The following two images of ‘Part 1’ of this exercise are sketches of the images provided in the course materials with illustrations of the implied lines.

Threshing Corn in Sicily by Gotthard Schuh

Threshing Corn in Sicily

The strongest implied line in this image is from the closest horse to the man, since the horse’s head is the largest and most dominant thing in the photograph; the second is that from the man to the horse. I have illustrated an eye-line from the horse at the back and three more lines demonstrating the direction in which all three objects in the photograph are travelling or facing. All of the lines in the image suggest a entire choreographed story to follow.

Corrida by Michael Freeman

Corrida

The strongest implied line in this image is in fact a definite line that points into the centre of the image; this is the reason for its strength. Each of the lines in this image either point to the centre or point to another line that does, leading the viewer directly to the image’s focal point. There is implied movement from both the toreador’s cloth and the bull and therefore implied lines appear in these areas of the image. Just like ‘Threshing Corn in Sicily’, you can’t help but imagine the entire choreographed story that follows unfolding before your eyes.

Part 2

The following three images were taken from my existing portfolio to demonstrate implied lines (illustrated).

Polish Artists on the Streets of Wroclaw

Polish Artists on the Streets of Wroclaw

This image’s lines are mostly eye-lines: the artist to the left looks at his subject, the artist on the right looks at his work; the ‘passer-by’ looks at the artist’s work and so on. There are only minor extensions of lines from the artist’s feet and legs that don’t lead the viewer to any distinct focal point; the viewer’s eye almost flickers over the whole image in a very erratic fashion.

Big Issue Seller

Big Issue Seller

The biggest implied line in this image is clearly the woman’s gaze to the floor as she looks down subdued. The second strongest lines are implied by the lines and cracks between the slabs on the floor that, by perspective, lead the viewer in and out of the image. There is an extension of a line emanating from the tip of the woman’s foot, however, this line could just as easily lead the viewer’s eye in the other direction up the woman’s figure to her face and then away with her gaze.

The Butter Market, Newark

The Butter Market, Newark

All of the implied lines, but two, are formed by perspective in this image, one of the remaining lines is an eye-line from the dressed mannequins to the left of the image; the other, a line from the top to the bottom of the stairs at the end of the hall. All of the implied lines lead to the centre of the image, to the focal point; the door at the end. The perspective of the camera has almost formed a centrifuge of lines around the door. There are also faint, thick lines across the pillars that almost join perfectly to form a two lines running horizontally into the centre of the image.

Part 3

This part of the exercise requested that we take two photographs, one to illustrate an extension of a line and one to illustrate an eye-line.

Extension of a line 

Extension of a Line

The road in this image of a man jogging implies a very strong line which bends to the right carrying the line with it. The line is very directional and leads the viewer straight through the image to the jogger and then the end of the road; even the periphery of the trees in the top of the image lead the viewer to that very same place in the image and the jogger’s eye-line does too. Perspective has allowed a much easier entry to the image for the viewer’s eye as it wanders in from side-to-side.

Eye-line

Eye line

Averting the gaze of the audience is Robin Hood, outside Nottingham Castle. Three of the four people are looking straight into the face of the legendary character whilst the fourth is studying a guide book of some sort, we can tell all this from the implied eye-lines in the image. Robin clearly has something far more important to focus on; me, it would seem. The three implied eye-lines from the audience are all equal in strength rendering the image to have no dominant implied line.

Conclusion

I can honestly say that after this exercise, I will never look at a photograph in the same way again; I will be building a network of implied lines in my head to form a structure on which to build my composition on. After doing this exercise, I realise the importance that lines have on the structure and composition of an image; more importantly, however, how a story can so easily unfold before the viewer’s eyes with clever and strategic use of implied lines. I will be shooting with close consideration for the things that I have learned in this exercise.

Curves

Curves

This is the final exercise in the ‘Lines’ project. The objective of this exercise is to capture four images employing strong examples of curved lines. Curved lines have a totally different value than straight lines as they convey more motion and direction and do this in a very elegant way; they almost give a sense of destiny.

With each of the following images, I have tried to use a very different form and style of curve to present a diverse collection of photographs; I feel I can study the nature of the curve more accurately and effectively this way.

Maggie’s Cancer Centre, Nottingham City Hospital

Maggie's Cancer Centre, Nottingham City Hospital

The curved lines in this image lead the viewer from the bottom of the image to the top, each line in the image leads to the same place; this is aided by a shadow/reflection that forms an apex with a summit that indicates the exact focal point of the photograph. The curves give this image a very calming, inviting and encouraging feel and add a sense of comfort and hope.

Spiral Staircase, Bromley House Library, Nottingham

Spiral Staircase, Bromley House Library, Nottingham

The curved lines in this image are much tighter and give the image a sense of melancholy with its downward cascade; quite the antithesis of the previous image. There is an element of elegance and grace captured in this image, its curves are smooth and gentle and in some respects calming; it almost makes you want to accept.

Both banisters of the staircase lead the viewer into the centre of the image, each of the lines created by the edge of each step also helps the eye meet the image’s focal point.

Meandering Brick Line 

Meandering Brick Line

This is a very simple image of a gentle and smooth line of bricks set into the ground of a children’s play park. The smoothness and grace of the line convey distance, direction and the suggestion of a destination, all of which are optimistic. There is no focal point as such, that is to say there is no object that the viewer’s eye is led to, the eye is just led straight through; this adds mystery to the image. The viewpoint of the camera has given the image distance, the nature of the line itself has given direction and the sense of a destination comes from the fact that the line is reminiscent of a road or river.

Corrugated Roof 

Corrugated Roof

One continuous, undulating curve has been captured in this image passing through from side to side. The curve almost reminds me of the sea as it consistently ebbs and flows through the image almost creating a horizon. Like the sea, this wavy line is soothing and relaxing in its bobbing motion. The definition of the curve is greatly improved by the strong contrast and is the first thing the viewer notices.

Conclusion

I found this exercise the most difficult of all the ‘lines’ project, I think it is because there is so much more to explore and the nature of a curved line is much more complex than that of straight lines. Now I understand the complexity of the curved line, I feel that I can express so much more in my imagery and I am more inclined to think about my composition.

Diagonals

Diagonals

For this exercise my objective was to take four photographs using strong, bold diagonal lines within the composition. There are a few ways in which you could do this; I used perspective, viewpoint and diagonal structures to complete my task. This exercise demonstrates to us the effects that using diagonal lines has on an image; like vertical lines interpret something different to horizontal lines, as do diagonal lines.

I have taken four black-and-white images for this exercise, trying not to repeat any of the ways in which the diagonal lines appear in an image.

Diagonal 1 

Diagonal 1

This is a tightly framed image of a door constructed of diagonal wooden slats that create a series of diagonal lines emanating from one central vertical line. The lines stem in a downward fashion give a sense of upward movement, this is achieved by the equidistance and consistency of the lines. Other than the one vertical line in the centre, there are only diagonal lines in the image. A very simple image that conveys movement and direction very well.

Diagonal 2

Diagonal 2

Perspective is what has achieved the diagonal lines in this image. Had these lines been photographed from a different angle, they may not have been diagonal at all; after all, they are technically not diagonal. There are four predominant lines in this image but there are also many more subtle ones continuing with the diagonal theme, each with a slightly different angle. The diagonal lines in this image strongly suggest depth and distance.

Diagonal 3

Diagonal 3

This is an image of the underside of a spiral road from a roof car park. Every line in this photograph is diagonal, each with a slightly different angle. The viewpoint has given a sense of depth and movement.

Diagonal 4

Diagonal 4

These wall supports provide an abundance of diagonal lines, the viewpoint adds depth and distance as the proximity of the lines compress.

Conclusion

In conjunction with reading Michael Freeman’s (2007) ‘The Photographer’s Eye’, this exercise has taught me that diagonal lines are more in the control of the photographer when using perspective. Diagonal lines suggest a much stronger sense of motion and direction than vertical lines and also add a lot more depth. I think that either vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines could be incorporated in most imagery depending on what the photographer wishes to convey and should be strongly considered before shooting.

Horizontal and vertical lines

Horizontal and vertical lines

The object of this exercise is partly to demonstrate the strength in composition that vertical and horizontal lines have in an image and also to teach us the importance of knowing how and where to find these distinctive designs and how often they appear in day-to-day life. This exercise also teaches us how to achieve success when shooting these seemingly, ‘simple to shoot’ designs.

I have produced four photographs to illustrate horizontal lines and four photographs to illustrate vertical lines being very careful not to repeat the way in which lines appear. Like all of the exercises in part two of the course, I have decided to shoot in monochrome/ black-and-white to let the composition ‘speak for itself’ without the distraction of bright colours.

Horizontal 1

Horizontal 1

This is a tightly-framed image of a lead roof on a church. The horizontal lines are very dominant in the image and are accentuated by the strong shadow and contrast from the afternoon sun. There is very little happening in the image besides the horizontal lines so this is a very good portrayal.

Horizontal 2 

Horizontal 2

Again, due to the fact that there is very little in this image other than the horizontal lines, this is rendered a good example. The lines are a little more subtle than in the first image, however, the quantity of lines help to illustrate the point.

Horizontal 3

Horizontal 3

This is my favourite image from the set because of the irony. The strongest and most noticeable horizontal lines in this image are the painted white lines on the road followed by the tram lines that run parallel to them. There are many variations of horizontal line in this image: there are short painted white lines in the top of the image marking the taxi rank, tram lines, painted road markings and even the road between the lines could be considered lines themselves because of the proximity.

Horizontal 4

Horizontal 4

This image illustrates the point less successfully because it is a little busier than the others; the lines don’t always appear to be the first thing you notice, however, they are there. There is not as much contrast in this image so the lines are not as bold and distinctive.

Vertical 1

Vertical 1

This is my favourite of the vertical collection, the bicycle in the right of the image adds interest and a good focal point, breaking up the repetition. The pillars and lamp-post provide a good, strong vertical illustration.

Vertical 2 

Vertical 2

This is a strikingly simple image and illustrates the point extremely well. The thin bright white lines compared to the thick mid-grey concave areas are a stark contrast making this image successful in its intent.

Vertical 3

Vertical 3

This image is a little busier but conveys the objective quite well. A variety of shapes, shades, and textures remain to continue with the theme of the exercise.

Vertical 4 

Vertical 4

The brick columns on the right of this image provide the strongest depiction of the objective. The heavy shadows on the inside of the columns create a strong contrast making the lines prominent. The image is comprised mainly of elongated rectangles so there is an element of horizontal portrayal, though very small. These shapes themselves help the image to convey a perpendicular characteristic.

 

Conclusion

In this exercise I have learned when and how these patterns appear and the uniformity and regularity in which they appear. I have also learned that these patterns and structures can be very important to provide a strong composition and stability to an image. As a result of doing this exercise,  I will endeavour to incorporate this element of stability into an image should I believe that the image would benefit from this. Although both vertical lines and horizontal lines give stability and strength, they are at the same time very different from each other; vertical lines represent height, speed and direction, whereas horizontal lines have a calming, soothing and heavy quality.