Exercise 1.4 Frame

Exercise 1.4 Frame

Take a good number of shots, composing each shot within a single section of the viewfinder grid. Don’t bother about the rest of the frame! Use any combination of grid section, subject and viewpoint you choose. When you review the shots, evaluate the whole frame, not just the part you’ve composed. Take the same approach you used to evaluate the point and line exercises: examine the relationship of elements to the frame. Composition is part of form and formal analysis will be a useful skill for your exercises and assignments as you progress through the course.

Amazing struggle once again for what seemed like the most simple of tasks.  I seemed to be thwarted at every turn.  I  have no idea how many photos I took in total but had five attempts.  I noticed on my walk through the woods bordering Salisbury Plain that there were lots of signs, mainly telling walkers what to do or rather what not to do.  I thought this told a story and promptly started to take them.  I had two attempts and on each occasion I managed to omit one of the sections on the grid.

The other thing that I noticed was that depending on the camera and lens I was using,  I found that what was visible in the view finder was not always what appeared in the shot when down loaded onto the computer.  The shot below is an example of this phenomenon.  I shot this sign with a close crop to the edge of the frame.  Clearly, this is something that I need to allow for in shots where the subject is near to the edge of the frame.  Having discussed read and re thought the reason for this phenomena, I now believe that it is because I have recently started wearing glasses the distance between my eye and the viewfinder has increased and I didn’t allow for this by altering the dioptric.  I have now done so but have not yet experimented to see if this is the problem.

bottom middle

Example of sign attempt, this one was composed close to the edge of the shot.

I even included a couple from a walk in Kielder Forest.    I then attempted a bottle of HP sauce on the table and also a visit to  Beamish Museum in County Durham.  I then witnessed a fire with all the Emergency Service attending and tried to take advantage of the flashing blue lights and logos.  However, there was too much activity and lots of “photo bombing”  causing a lot of distraction.  My final attempt was a dam in France which had been drained for maintenance

.emergency services

Emergency Services attempt

In terms of the exercise, this shot of the NHS paramedic vehicle could have worked as I was composing the shot of the NHS logo in the bottom left corner and disregarding the rest of the frame.  However, I felt it was a poor shot that was difficult to interpret because the person in the shot is so dominant.

My other problem has been in creating a really well balanced contact sheet.  I can create one in Photoshop but need to master layers to resize them and in Lightroom I cannot directly export the sheet and would need to print it first.  My printer is not working at present!

What technically have I learnt from the exercise?

Using a Canon 5D Mk III with a 24 – 105 mm lens on iA (Intelligent Auto) I walked the bottom of this drained dam.  When full it serves a very different tourist function.  Not least a manufactured water sport resort complete with beach and smaller enterprises along the length of the lake.

When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. This is an overrated approach, though.  

Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light. There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right. Digital Camera World. http://www.techradar.com/how-to/photography-video-capture/cameras/10-rules-of-photo-composition-and-why-they-work-1320770

On analysing the shots I find that many things creep into the shot that are unintentional and many include a lot of empty space that do not add anything to the shot, as in Images 1, 2, 5 and 6.   In Image 2 there is also some marquees, people and a canopy which distracts from the image.  This image has some merit in that it obeys the rule of thirds by sitting in the top third of the shot.

Images 3 and 4 work in a slightly better way.  Although there is a tight crop on the ruined building the dried earth leads the eye towards the ruin giving a more appealing shot.  Image 4 works in a slightly better way because the root of the decayed tree sits in the lower middle and the whole shot leans towards the line of the rule of thirds.  It isn’t however, a perfect composition and feels a bit contrived.

Boats TL             1. Top Left

 Pleasure Boats TM                                                    2. Top Middle

  Ruin TR     3. Top Right

             Tree stump MM2

4. Middle Middle

Dam wall 2

5. Middle Left

Vertical Jetty MR                                                  6. Middle Right

People on Bench BL

7. Bottom Left

Jetty BM

8. Bottom Middle

Ski Nautique BR

9. Bottom Right

My favourite shot is of the five people sitting on the bench admiring the view.  The eye is led into the shot and although accidental in the rest of the frame is a a group of trees on the middle left, one of the beached Pleasure Boats in the middle and onto the rear wall of the dam and the hill beyond.  Image 8 works in a similar way but Image 9 is less successful in my view.  If Image 9 had something in the middle foreground then it may work more successfully.  The composition is similar to that of an Edgar Degas painting, although not as much action in the shot the triangle of interest is similar with the empty space in the centre foreground.


Contact Sheet



Amber Online

Forever Amber Exhibition – Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

This was a very random post which I had intended to describe and then lost internet access for quite awhile.  I went to this exhibition just I enrolled for the course.  It is an amazing story of both film and photography, much of it set in  my native North East of England.  It really  moved me, not least because of the total displacement of the people featured in  it either to make way for “improved” housing or the decline of heavy industry.  I’m not sure if it is touring but much of it is available on line and if you are interested in documentary photography, worth a look.

Karen Falconer in The Independent, described the Forever Amber exhibition as ” Britain’s answer to Magnum”

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/photography/for-ever-amber-britains-answer-to-magnum-present-life-under-a-lens-for-marginalized-communities-of-10360498.html .

For Ever Amber Exhibition: For Ever Amber is the first major retrospective looking at Amber/Side’s extraordinary film & photography collection. It will be at the Laing Art Gallery from June 27th 2015 (now ended).

Source: Amber Online

More recently the Side Gallery that holds the collection has re-opened after major refurbishment and has changing exhibitions and talks as well as an educational programme.  If you are in the North East it is well worth a visit.   http://www.amber-online.com/collections/

Framing Your Shots – Photography Composition Technique – Digital Photography School

We often put the photos we take into frames as a way of displaying and drawing attention to our favorite photos – but there is another type of framing that you can do as you’re taking your shots that can be just as effective doing just the same thing!Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.The benefits of framing pictures include:

1. Giving the photo context (for example framing a scene with an archway can tell you something about the place you are by the architecture of the archway or including some foliage in the foreground of a shot can convey a sense of being out in nature).

2. Giving images a sense of depth and layers (in essence framing a shot generally puts something in the foreground which adds an extra dimension to the shot).

3.Leading the eye towards your main focal point (some ‘frames’ can draw your photo’s viewer into the picture just by their shape). Some also believe that a frame can not only draw the eye into a picture but that it keeps it there longer – giving a barrier between your subject and the outside of the shot.

4. Intriguing your viewer. Sometimes it’s what you can’t see in an image that draws you into it as much as (if not more than) what you can see in the picture. Clever framing that leaves those viewing your image wondering a little or imagining what is behind your frame can be quite effective (get it wrong and it can also be quite annoying!).


Source: Framing Your Shots – Photography Composition Technique – Digital Photography School

Framing (visual arts) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In visual arts and particularly cinematography, framing is the presentation of visual elements in an image, especially the placement of the subject in relation to other objects. Framing can make an image more aesthetically pleasing and keep the viewer’s focus on the framed object(s). It can also be used as a repoussoir, to direct attention back into the scene. It can add depth to an image, and can add interest to the picture when the frame is thematically related to the object being framed.

Source: Framing (visual arts) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Exercise 1.3 (2) Line

Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down). Modern architecture offers strong lines and dynamic diagonals, and zooming in can help to create simpler, more abstract compositions. Review your shots from both parts of Exercise 1.3. How do the different lines relate to the frame? There’s an important difference from the point exercises: a line can leave the frame. For perpendicular lines this doesn’t seem to disrupt the composition too much, but for perspective lines the eye travels quickly along the diagonal and straight out of the picture. It feels uncomfortable because the eye seems to have no way back into the picture except the point that it started from. So for photographs containing strong perspective lines or ‘leading lines’, it’s important that they lead somewhere within the frame.


Images of 1 and 2 are of a roller blind shutter,  Image 1 taken from inside the house when it was starting to open and image 2 the same position of the shutter taken from outside.  Image 3 is of a wooden outbuilding.  I changed the angle to see what happened.  I was not around any tall buildings with a suitable ground subject at the time of doing this exercise.

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080020

Image 1

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080013

Image 2

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080017

Image 3

All images were taken with a Lumix DMC GX7 using a 14-42 mm lens.   All with a 30mm focal length to eliminate (on the inside shot) the vertical lines of the window frame and the other two to retain a consistency in the comparison.

I think the interesting thing that happens in images 2 and 3 is that light and shade make a difference to the feel of the shot.  In 2 the light reflecting on the PVC roller shutter because the slats are not entirely flattened and the texture in image 3 adding shade to the deeper grooves of the wood.  This then gives a slight sense of depth in the shots.

However, in all shots the eye has nowhere to rest (Frost L, 2010) and is led out of the frame.

My understanding between “cropping” and “framing” is that a “cropped” view is where the reaches the edge of the frame and a “framed” view is where the subject is composed within the frame and usually obeys the Rule of Thirds.

There are occasions when using a cropped view is intentional and works.  This usually  is presented as an abstract shot.


building-pattern (2)




Both the above shots lead the eye out of the frame but as abstract shots they work.  The Luke Casey shot because it demonstrates the perspective and size of the building and although the second shot is not as obvious as the first to what it is has strong contrasts.

Reviewing my previous work there are definitely, some shots that work better because of the composition e.g. Image 3 in Exercise 1.3 (1).  Although this has a leading diagonal line there is nothing to focus on towards the top right corner and the eye is taken out of the shot.  The same could be said of Image 4, although this is a better composed shot generally if I had been able to angle the shot so that more road appeared toward the top right hand corner it would work better.  I  tried several shots to try to achieve this but was not able to because of the fence.

Exercise 1.3 (1)

Exercise 1.3 (1) Lines

Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wide-angle-lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a viewpoint close to the line.

All shots were taken with a Lumix DMC GX7 camera set on iA (Intelligent Auto) using a 14-42mm lens.

Although the brief was to zoom out with a wide-angle lens, in some of my shots in order to eliminate distracting elements I zoomed in as seen in the first three images.



Image 1 – Focal Length 40mm

The reason for zooming in on this shot was because there was another lock bridge at the start of the main bridge across a weir and it changed the perspective and angle of the shot, distracting the eye from the focal point of the sign on the other side of the canal.

There is a less strong sense of depth to this shot for two reasons. The first is the close crop of the shot and the second the blurred background (because of the auto setting of the camera).


 Image 2 – Focal Length 40 mm

In this shot the foreground is shop but the background is blurred. Zuckermann (2009) suggests that to achieve the best effect and greatest sense of depth the whole scene should be sharp.


In setting the camera to Auto I had no control over the camera and this shot was the outcome. However, I think that it achieves a certain mystery by leading the eye into the distance where the viewer can make out a bridge and something white (in this case a boat), which in itself may intrigue the viewer.

By shooting low for this shot I was trying to achieve a greater sense of depth.



 Image 3 – Focal Length 40 mm

Another shot at 40mm, which does not work very well. Although there is a sense of depth, the close crop of the shot and the lack of focal point in the background only achieves to lead the eye out of the frame.


lines 3jpg

Image 4 – Focal length 14 mm

In image 4 I endeavoured to get a shot with a foreground subject in an attempt to engage the viewer more at the beginning of the shot and to create the sense of distance between the foreground and the background.   I tried to use the long footpath curving into the distance to create a more subtle composition than straight converging leading lines, whilst retaining the sense of depth.

“Diagonal lines help convey depth as they suggest distance and perspective…. have more energy than horizontal or vertical lines producing a dynamic energy”. Garvey –Williams (2014)[1]



 Image 5 – Focal length 14 mm

In this shot I was attempting to use the strong converging lines to take the eye from the foreground directly to the trees and threatening sky in the distance, as a main focal and vanishing point. However, the puddles and wet ground act as a bit of a distraction and although the eye follows the converging lines it is immediately taken back to the centre of the shot where the puddles are, thus lessening the effect of what I had intended.

The effect of converging lines is also heightened if you included the vanishing point (the point where the lines appear to meet on the horizon), as it provides a resting place for the eye”. (Frost L. 2010)[2].


lines 5Image 6 – Focal length 14 mm

I have included Image 6 in my Learning Log because I liked the way the image of the railway bridge and its reflection provided a converging line that draws the eye towards the canoe slalom poles.   The reason it is not such a strong image is because I was not able to get further back to create a greater depth of field and I could not get any higher from the ground (without step ladders) to look down towards the shot. However, it does demonstrate the use of reflections in leading lines.

[1] Garvey-Williams R. (2014), Mastering Composition. Ammonite Press, East Sussex

[2] Frost L. (2010), The A-Z of Creative Photography, Revised Edition. David and Charles Ltd. Newton Abbot.