There are essentially three classes of position [to place a single point]: in the middle, a little off-centre, and close to the edge.
(Photography 1: The Art of Photography, p.72)
Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large it becomes a shape.)
How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.
As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the position of the point by its relationship to the frame.
Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and the picture is balanced.
I thought about the location for this exercise and to cover several exercises in this Project 2 – Visual Skills I selected a popular location of Dungeness, Kent.
Dungeness can be rather bleak but with some intresting structures nestled around the Nuclear Power Station. It’s scattered with small homes, fishing vessels and some derelict buildings and old fishing boats.
At first I gave a great deal of thought about how I would approach this exercise as it’s easy as a photographer to look for visual clues where they eye is led across a scene rather than composing with a point and nothing in relation to the point to led you eye across it. I interpret the ‘point’ as a visual interest or something to focus on.
That posed the next questions where and what would be a place or wrong place to put that point? Having surveyed my choosen landscape and subject I found what I suspected was a winch long since used and leading away a discarded wrought iron ‘eye’ with what I suspected was a part of the winch.
I thought that it at least would make an interesting subject and also if something is attached to the ‘a’ point does it strengthen it or make no change as to where it is place in the frame making it unbalanced.
I have converted my images to Black and White as I want the viewer to see the point I had chosen rather than be confused by the use of colour images. If these images were displayed printed rather than web based I would still keep them in Black and White because of this.
My first placement was in the middle of the frame. I am unable to kneel down due to my condition but using a Wifi adaptor and my iphone I was able to gauge the placement of the ‘eye’ or my ‘a’ point.
‘Balance in an image is typically created through opposing tensions. Total symmetry, such as a simple object dead-center in a square frame, is undeniably balanced, but in a static way that normally lacks interest. Anything asymmetrical contains a directional tension, so that, for example, an off-center placement “pulls” away from the center and wants to be resolved by an opposing tension. This is the basis of most compositional strategies, and it is the process of resolving tensions that satisfies the viewer’s search for balance. In other words, effective traditional composition uses a dynamic balance rather than a static one, and removing all tensions when taking a picture-by placing subjects in the frame’s center or even dispensing with obvious subjects, for example-makes for less visual interest.’ (Freeman 2010)
The second image of this set I placed in the Bottom Left corner.
The third image I placed in the Bottom Left corner of the frame.
The last image I placed the ‘eye’ in the Middle of the frame.
My thoughts on reviewing them were that they all felt balanced but the centralised image somehow doesn’t feel right. Whilst you can connect the ‘eye’ no matter where it is paced within the frame and leads you to the next clue be that the large clump of vegetation or the rusty upright and back to the eye again the centralised image doesn’t appear to give you the whole story. I have sat for some length of time analyising this image and althought the link is tenuous I feel that I’m forcing myself to link everything together.
‘A landscape photograph may not have a single, obvious subject in the conventional sense. It may well be that the view itself becomes the subject, but most successful compositions contain a strong point of interest or ‘focal point’, such as a tree, dominant hill or building. Placing the main focal point centrally in the frame usually results in a rather static composition, as the eye tends to go straight to the subject and is not encouraged to travel around the frame. Simply placing the focal point off-centre will immediately create more interest and dynamism, although there are exceptions to this – certain scenes lend themselves very much to symmetry.’ (Hoddinott, 2013)
As suggested I have added a pencil line to demonstrate how the eye scans the image.
Hoddinott, R. (2013) Landscape photography workshop. Lewes: Ammonite Press.
Freeman, M. (2010) The photographer’s mind: creative thinking for better digital photos. Lewes: Ilex.