Exercises part 2

Working towards Assignment 2

As I have mentioned a few times in my lasts posts, this part has been pretty challenging for me. I have learned a lot about how to position subjects in the frame, to look for lines and shapes in a scene and frame an image so that these can add an extra dimension and sense of professionalism to the picture. Since I find setting up a scene much more difficult than framing an already existing scene, I thought I'd better start looking at other photographer's work and practice until I started feeling more sure about what I was doing. 

Last September I bought a new camera for this course. Especially in still life photography I am a bit disappointed in the results. The images are not sharp and not focused correctly. I read on Nikon forums that I'm not the only one with this problem, so I'll have the camera checked as soon as I can. In the meantime, I'm trying to get the most out of it, which in a way is also a way to learn to deal with boundaries and perfect the things I can do.

There are a few different themes I have been researching, but I still haven't decided which one I'm really going to work on and send in as my final work. Here are a few examples of the themes.

The island of Goree
This is an island of the coast of Dakar, with a lot of old houses, picturesque places and beautiful people. I have already used quite a lot of this serie in my exercises. If I choose to send them in for the assessment I will go back and perfect them.

Still life of my 'inheritance'. These items used to be my grandparents, who were all born around 1900. Having been inspired by early twenty century photography, I thought it would be nice to set up still life scenes and create the same kind of atmosphere. Easier thought than done!

There's a small forest in Dakar and I really like going there. Since most of the trees grow out of the swamp, there are beautiful reflections on the water. Because the trees are very close together, I find it difficult to really show patterns and lines. The images are all a bit too messy. I would like to learn how to improve the design of an image under such circumstances.

Kitchen utensils, flowers and food. I experimented a bit with shapes and shadows. It's fun to move everything around and see the effects on the dynamics of the picture. I would like to send these in, but feel there are not enough options to meet all the different requirements of the assignments, if I would only choose flowers, or kitchen utensils for example. I also struggle with getting everything sharp an well lit. But I find that these kind of exercises really force me to get all the details right and I'm sure that these exercises will enable me to take much better pictures when the circumstances are not all set and planned.

I'll make a decision soon!

Rectangles

This part doesn't call for doing a specific exercise, but while I was looking for the other shapes on the island of Goree, I found a few fascinating rectangles. As the reader suggests, rectangles tend to be enclosing and sort of putting an other frame in a frame. One might find this too static, but I feel that they can make one specific part of the image really stand out, or show that there is a world behind the flat surface. 

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Implied lines

I used to be surprised by the things that I saw afterwards in the photos that I'd taken myself. Probably because when taking the photo I was focusing on something, I wasn't aware of other parts in the image that were interesting as well. To a point I think there is nothing wrong with it, but especially in terms of design I find that I need to look more closely into a scene before just shooting away and hope for the best. I like the line on page 82 of the course book:

"One of the uses of design in photography is to organise a picture in such a way that another person will be encouraged to look at it in the way you want.'

I'm still in the process of discovering how I want the picture to be looked at, or even more basic, discovering how I look at pictures myself. This chapter has been a great help and has made me more and more aware of the processes that take place when looking at an image and the active part I as the photographer can play in how a scene or subject is perceived through the design.

This exercise starts with having a look at two photos with a lot of movement and decide which direction the subjects are moving. Here they come!

Of course, the movements of the bull and man are not as straight as the lines might suspect. But I think the general movement is that they will both go backward and turn around.

Of course, the movements of the bull and man are not as straight as the lines might suspect. But I think the general movement is that they will both go backward and turn around.

Out of the way the man is leading the horses and the direction they're looking at, it can be assumed that the horses will gallop in front of the lens and the man will face the lens forward in just a few seconds.

Out of the way the man is leading the horses and the direction they're looking at, it can be assumed that the horses will gallop in front of the lens and the man will face the lens forward in just a few seconds.

I looked through some of the pictures I have taken in this past week. With some I had this exercise in mind, with other pictures I discovered the line after seeing them on my computer screen.

As the lines show, there is a lot of dynamic and movement in this photo. It was an incredibly high wave day I have to say!

As the lines show, there is a lot of dynamic and movement in this photo. It was an incredibly high wave day I have to say!

This photo sort of goes without saying :-)

This photo sort of goes without saying :-)

I was standing on the top of the cliff that you can see in the photo above, about to take a photo of the birds who were all looking in the same direction, when a humongous wave scared us all! I was soaken wet, but happy with the result!

I was standing on the top of the cliff that you can see in the photo above, about to take a photo of the birds who were all looking in the same direction, when a humongous wave scared us all! I was soaken wet, but happy with the result!

The next photo wasn't particularly planned as it is asked for in the exercise, but I took it when I got off the ferry. The lady in the back had been sitting there, constantly looking down, as if she was trying to ignore somebody. Then the passengers got off the ferry and walked past her and I could see her curiosity taking over. You can just see her looking up at the man in the red shirt. In the meantime the people passing are focused on getting off the ramp. I really like the eye lines in this photo.

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The lines of the back of the ferry diagonally point towards the island we have just left.

The lines of the back of the ferry diagonally point towards the island we have just left.

One thing I really need to work on is setting up similar lines in still life scenes. I find that so difficult! So more on that in an upcoming blog.

Curves

Before reading the part about curves, I had never thought about the curved shapes that can be implied in images and how they pull the eye in. I like the smoothness and elegance that curves bring to images and was excited to take some of these pictures on the island of Goree. 

Even though the diagonal and horizontal lines are pretty dominant, the curves of the openings bring a very graceful feel to the image. Maybe I should have shown this picture in black and white, to eradicate the yellow that stresses the smoothness even more, so that it would just show the effect of the shape. But it is just too pretty :-)

Even though the diagonal and horizontal lines are pretty dominant, the curves of the openings bring a very graceful feel to the image. Maybe I should have shown this picture in black and white, to eradicate the yellow that stresses the smoothness even more, so that it would just show the effect of the shape. But it is just too pretty :-)

I'm not overly excited about this photo. There are a lot of curves, but the low angle from which it is taken directs the eye upwards instead of in the building. With the curves inside and pulling the eye as well, there is no clear direction in the image. If taken from a higher point, more of the inner entrances would have been visible and the eye would have been pulled inward.

I'm not overly excited about this photo. There are a lot of curves, but the low angle from which it is taken directs the eye upwards instead of in the building. With the curves inside and pulling the eye as well, there is no clear direction in the image. If taken from a higher point, more of the inner entrances would have been visible and the eye would have been pulled inward.

This image is full of implied curves. The heads of the girls dancing in the front imply a circle, stressing their movements. The group of people behind them form a sort of oval shape. The eye is directed from the front to the back and curving all the way to the people on the pier.

This image is full of implied curves. The heads of the girls dancing in the front imply a circle, stressing their movements. The group of people behind them form a sort of oval shape. The eye is directed from the front to the back and curving all the way to the people on the pier.

The curve of the stair creates a movement upward. This is accentuated because the steps go from broad to narrow, the contrast with the square tiles and the play of light and shadows.

The curve of the stair creates a movement upward. This is accentuated because the steps go from broad to narrow, the contrast with the square tiles and the play of light and shadows.