4 May 2010

The Frame: Project - Frame shapes and sizes, pt1

Exercise: Vertical and horizontal frames
20 photographs twice

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This exercise may take awhile; I’m starting to run out of things to photograph! However, I think I’ve made a good start and I should get out this weekend to take some more snaps for the exercise.

The Frame: Project - Dividing the frame, pt2

Exercise: Positioning the horizon
6 photographs

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Alnmouth beach back home in Northumberland would be perfect for this exercise, DAMN! I will have to try and get out this weekend and find somewhere suitable that is interesting at the same time.

{content pending}

The Frame: Project - Dividing the frame, pt1

Exercise: Balance
6 photographs

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Now, this exercise is something I’ve always been interested about when it comes to photography. I’ve always noticed that when you look at photographs taken by different friends and family that some of them are amazing and others are decidedly average. Some people seem to have a natural eye for positioning the frame where as others don’t seem to spend any time reviewing the scene; they just point and click. So, this project should be really fun.

This exercise requires me to pick out half a dozen of my photographs and try and figure out the balance that I have achieved. I have depicted the balance for each picture with a weighing scale to illustrate where the balance is and there’s also a link to each original. I’ve picked out some obvious ones and a couple that were a little more difficult:

Tower Building - view original

My photo of these tower buildings has only x2 main elements so this was an easy one to figure out. The taller of the x2 towers is dominant over the smaller one in the foreground so I have placed it central to the frame. The smaller tower counter-balances the frame by being placed to the bottom left.

Water Feature - view original

This photograph has a water feature shaped like a clamshell in the foreground with the city buildings making up the background. To me, this picture again has only two main elements that pull your attention; the pearl to the left and the flowing water to the right of the frame. The water takes up a greater proportion of the frame than the pearl and, as with the tower buildings, is positioned closer to the centre creating an equal balance.

Sunset - view original

This sunset is balanced by x2 even blocks of colour; the red sky and the silhouetted ground. It is very easy to figure this one out, but you could argue that there is a third element through the centre of the frame where the ground and sky gets divided. If we were to look at this as a third element, it would be placed in the centre of the scale and not affect the balance at all.

Sushi - view original

This sushi platter was a little bit more difficult than the others to figure out and it is for that reason I included it in this exercise (for the record, I don’t even like this picture). After looking at it for a while I have decided that there are x2 main blocks of colour that achieve the balance; the ‘brighter’ groups of sushi in the fore and backgrounds, as illustrated. Again, the larger mass is placed closer to the pivot on the scale and is offset by the smaller mass placed further away from the centre.

Canopy - view original

This photograph is of a large pillar that holds of a canopy; the central opening is the main element which is centered in the frame with the canopy lines drawing away to the edges. This is a very simple composition but very balanced – I’m really found of weird photos like this one!

Man with Birds - view original

Here is my favourite photo from the ‘sequence of composition’ exercise; the man with birds. Again, there are two main elements but it could be argued that there are in fact three. For ease, I have grouped the man’s head and the parrot together as one element and the smaller bird on his hand as another. However, if I were to treat the man’s head and the parrot as x2 separate elements, it would not change the conclusion on the balance; the larger proportion of the photograph is closer to the pivot.

Now that I have completed this exercised I have a feeling that I’m going to start critiquing all my photos using the idea of the balanced scale! Please click here to view album.

The Frame: Project - Focal lengths, pt 2

Exercise: Focal lengths and different viewpoints
2 photographs

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There’s not a great difference in the focal lengths for this exercise; the first photo was taken at 55mm and the second at 18mm, each taken at different distances. Despite this, there is still an obvious difference between the two.

This first photograph taken at a short focal length (or wide-angle) has a greater sense of depth compared to the one taken at 55mm owing to a different perspective. At 18mm, the bottle of Crown Royal appears to stand taller that the Jim Beam toward the left of the frame. It is almost as if the scene is sweeping away from the viewer and pulling off into the distance.

In reality, a Jim Beam bottle stands taller than Crown Royal, as captured in the photo taken at 55mm. Scenes such as this may not lend themselves to a wide-angle; the situtation may dictate an accurate representation over a impression of depth.


I was out over the weekend taking some photographs and came across this wonderful scene of three archways that had the city-line in the background. I took the first picture close up at a wide-angle and, on reviewing the photo, thought that there was too much ‘empty space’ in each arch. Then I remembered doing this exercise and recalled that I could change the perspective by switching to a telephoto. So I stood back, zoomed in, and achieved a completely different picture! I am amazed at the sheer difference between the two photographs below – I am really going to have to think hard and experiment with focal lengths when I am out-and-about from now on!

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Also, I found a couple of great articles on the Cambridge in Colour website through the OCA course resources that gives great tips on utilising wide-angle and telephoto lenses.

The Frame: Project - Focal lengths, pt1

Exercise: Focal lengths
10 photographs

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This exercise calls for me to take a series of photographs at different focal-lengths from a static position. I managed to find an open scene with a few details, as the exercise specified; I chose this scene of the sea with a small jetty and the city-line in the background. I use a combination of my 18-55mm lens and my new 55-200mm to get x10 photographs over the greatest range of focal lengths as I could.

As I was in a static position, the perspective of the scene did not change with the different focal lengths; I will demonstrate this using the photos taken at my widest-angle (18mm) and my longest telephoto (200mm). If I zoom in on a few of the buildings in the background on the wide-angle shot (above) you can see that it is identical to the photograph of the same section taken at 200mm; the ratios are the same.
The next exercise shows how the perspective of a scene can be manipulated using different focal-lengths.

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