THE FRAME – EXERCISE 2
Object in Different Positions in the Frame
I had some difficulty identifying a suitable scenario locally when I came to do this exercise as it required a very clear subject set within a large, even background so I thought I would attempt to create something suitable by placing a chair in a wild part of the garden. I then photographed it several times changing the position of the chair within the frame each time.
I then examined the resulting images in more detail to see which appealed and to see why some worked better than others. I now show the images below in reverse order from least favourite to favourite. What was clear on reviewing the images was that the background was nothing like as even as I had thought and that the background hedge in particular was very intrusive in the pictures. I will comment more on this later.
In this image I have positioned the chair just below the centre of the frame. The subject appears subordinate and almost disappears into the surroundings, possibly as a result of of the large amount of background hedge which is visible and tends to dominate the picture. This is my least favourite image.
Here the chair is placed in the centre of the frame. Although the composition is little different to the preceding one, the central placing gives the subject a strength to such an extent that it dominates the picture leaving the surrounding environment of little consequence in the overall image. The background hedge does not appear as much as in 1 above and as a result it does not dominate giving much more impact to the central subject. I think that the reason why I do not like this picture so much as others below is that it is too obvious and rigid although there might be occasions when this ‘full frontal’ approach might work and be appropriate.
The subject now appears towards the top left hand corner of the frame which creates space which feels like a vacuum both to the right and below. As a result the subject appears to be almost floating. This feeling is heightened by the lack of the hedge in the background and creates an interesting comparison with Image 5 below.
By contrast, the subject is here placed towards the top right corner of the frame. The fact that there is so much space to the left and below the subject creates a real sense that the subject is almost lost in the landscape. Indeed, for me, it creates two subjects, the chair and the grassy meadow and the mind is constantly switching between the two. I find this composition quite pleasing.
This time I framed the chair so that it appears 1/3rd in from the left edge and midway between the top and bottom of the frame. The composition therefore partially follows the Rule of Thirds and works well. The placing of the left facing chair towards the left side of the frame leaves a gap on the right and a question as to what is out of frame on the left which creates a tension and an interest in the image.
It is interesting to compare this image with the previous one (Image 5). Here the chair is again facing left but it is now a third of the frame from the right hand edge leaving the open space to the left of the subject. As a result the image is more restful than the previous one as it lacks some of the tension and the questions. This is probably my favourite of the shots.
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Continuing to search for a suitable subject, I found this white flower in a flower bed and tried the Exercise with this subject. It became clear on later examination of the images that the subject was not really appropriate for the exercise as there was too much other clutter within the image resulting in a an unattractive picture lacking impact. I have shown two of the images below to demonstrate what I mean.
Having said that the images did not really demonstrate the purpose of the Exercise, I did note with interest that there were differences in the impact of the images resulting from the different placement of the subject within the frame. Image 1 above works much better for me than Image 2 below as the flower subject placed in the lower right corner of the frame provides a good balance in the composition with the stem / leaves of the iris in the upper right part of the frame which keeps the eye moving around the picture and provides some tension.
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In order to find a more appropriate subject for this Exercise I went to a local beach at low tide to look for a subject that was within a large, even background as required. Initially, the only subject was a horse and rider and I took a range of photographs with the subject in different locations in the frame. On subsequent examination of the images it was clear that it did not work to my satisfaction as the subject is too far away resulting in too much background confusing the image, the subject being too small and the image lacking interest. I have shown two of the images below to illustrate what I mean.
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SUBJECT 4 (a)
Further exploration of the beach identified a rowing boat drawn up on the beach and this provided me with a more appropriate subject. I have included below a selection of the photographs I took,
With the subject in the centre of the frame, the image has a sort of starkness and stiffness and the subject dominates. The eye is held in the centre with the subject and does not readily roam around the rest of the frame. The shot has an immediacy but I suspect that a viewer would soon tire of it as it lacks interest.
With the subject on the centre line but placed towards the right hand side of the frame the image has more interest and the surroundings take on more of a role in the overall image. The 2/3rds – 1/3rd placing works well in terms of the composition. The fact that the bow of the boat is towards the right and the majority of the space is behind the boat creates interest with the viewer questioning what is outside the frame to the right.
Placing the subject in the 1/3rd – 2/3rd position towards the left hand side of the frame provides a similar composition to Image 2 above but there are two interesting differences. The bow of the boat is leading into the open space of the picture which creates a sense of calm and rightness. Also the dark image of the rocks in the top right of the frame provides some balance for the subject.
The positioning of the boat here follows the Rule of Thirds principle being approximately 1/3rd from the top and 1/3rd from the left edge of the frame. I like this image as the subject sits well in the landscape and the frame. The 3 dark points of the boat, the rocks in the top right and the foreground rocks provides an interesting triangle which keeps the eye moving around the frame.
The location of the boat towards the bottom of the frame does two things of interest. Firstly it brings the background land mass within the picture which tends to pull the eye back into the picture and away from the subject and secondly, it gives the appearance of reducing the size and importance of the subject within the overall image. The overall effect is to have a landscape with an almost incidental boat within it rather than to have a boat as the subject within an almost incidental landscape.
Again in this image, the presence of the background land mass renders the boat less important in the overall picture. However, I like the overall composition and the rocks to the right balancing the boat to the left works for me. Of course this is not really what the Exercise is about as there should be little or no detail and distraction in the background. As an aside, I cannot decide whether the white buoy and rope on the right are a distraction and adversely affect the image or not. On balance, I think that they work and add interest.
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SUBJECT 4 (b)
As an experiment I thought I would photograph the same subject using a longer focus lens so I changed from my standard 17 – 85 mm lens to my 70 – 200 mm telephoto to take a few more images. Some of these are shown below. As a result of the change, I was able to isolate the subject from the background more by excluding the distant land mass with the result that these images probably meet the requirements of the Exercise more nearly than any of the preceding ones.
I have to say that I find all 4 of these images pleasing in different ways, although I would tend towards the images where the subject is off centre.
Here the subject is placed in the centre of the frame. This positioning gives maximum power to the central subject which dominates the surroundings. The eye tends not to move around the picture but be fixed on the subject in the centre. This would be a useful composition if the intention is to make the subject dominate the scene.
This image works well in terms of overall composition with the presence of the line of waves and the positioning of the boat roughly following the rule of thirds. The fact that the boat is pointing away from the centre towards the near right side creates a tension.
An interesting and unexpected observation when looking at this and the previous image is that the subject boat, although being closer to the front of the picture in Image 2, appears smaller and less significant than in Image 3. It is possible that this effect is created by the presence of the breaking wave line which takes the eye away from the subject.
This creates a pleasing and restful image with the bow of the boat pointing into the picture and into the space in front. The rocks in the foreground balance the dark shape of the boat and keep the eye moving between the two.
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I found this Exercise interesting for several reasons. I was surprised how hard it was to find a naturally occurring situation where a subject was located within a clear, uncluttered background. I will keep my eye open for suitable examples in the future. It was also interesting to note the different impacts created by placing the subject in different places in the frame and the effect this had on the significance of the subject within the image. This was not always as one would expect! Whereas I generally felt that the placing of the subject off centre worked best, I can see that there would be circumstances when I wanted to draw attention to the subject when a centre placement would work.
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