Category Archives: Part 1

Research for Exercise 1.4 – Framing

For this exercise I wanted to really understand what is meant by framing.  Up to this point I had thought that it meant using objects such as a window frame or a group of trees to  frame the subject.

What I found was that the frame does not have to enclose the whole image but simply draw the eye in as with “repoussoir”, used in two dimensional art by placing an object in the foreground on either the right or left side which then leads the eye to the object in the background and the focus of the art or in this case shot

Framing is a way of manipulating the view point of the image rather than the object

It includes the use of:

  • Depth of Field
  • Use of objects such as window frames, doorways which also can create a sense of being part of the shot
  • White/Negative space
  • Vingnetting
  • Perspective distortion
  • Use of lens (wide to include more background or long to compress the image)
  • Focus (in/out) to create mood and depth to the image.

When framing is used well it can leave the viewer imagining more than originally intended.


Research for Part 1 – From that moment onwards……

As part of my research for Part 1 of the course, I considered composition and the use of “The Rule of Thirds”[1], Gestalt principles of dynamic symmetry, and principles of image composition[2].

There were many articles advising on how to compose a photograph and I have only included two references because many of them repeat the same information.

From my research I now understand what draws a viewer into an image and although there are some guiding rules these can be modified and still provide a pleasing image.

The rule of thirds is a very useful tool however, just moving the subject off centre can provide the desired effect as long as the focal point is strong.  Similarly placing a horizontal line in the centre or middle of the shot reduces the strength of the image, as does having a horizon or vertical line that is not straight.

Subjects that are interesting and place in the foreground can add depth and a point of reference.

Simple images are stronger and by composing an image with a strong focal point and less clutter will provide for a stronger shot.

Leading lines and framing shots by moving closer to a subject also play an important role in drawing the viewer’s eye to the focal point.

Most photographs are taken when the photographer is standing and by moving position this can improve the shot.

Detrie, in his discussion of Gestalt principles links our visual perception to patterns found in nature and it’s complexity.  How we perceive this complexity is dependent on the interaction between our experiences, interplay between perception and behaviour and the social and cultural context of our experiences.  Although this article was written for graphic design many of the elements described apply to photography.

Placing my subject in the centre is a common failing of mine and I need to improve on this.  On reviewing this research for my assessment I am aware that I still have many habits to break or improve on.




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.

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


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.

Exercise 1.2

Exercise 1.2 Point

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) 1. 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. 2. 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 have really struggled with this exercise.  I understand the concept of the exercise and why we are asked to do it but I haven’t found an acceptable “real” shot to work on.  I thought about converging lines and looked at the spot just before they met. However, this morning I got up to find a crystal from one of our light fittings had fallen off.  This presented an opportunity to use it as a point for this exercise.  I kept the camera on auto to take these shots, both sets are shot with a Lumix GMC GX7 and 14-42mm lens.

OCA Exercise 1.2c1

Below Centre point

OCA Exercise 1.2c

Left of centre

OCA Exercise 1.2c1-2

Right upper corner

All of the above compositions work to an extent.  The centre point leads the eye down the path into the distance, leaving the viewer wondering where it goes from there and what is beyond.  Similarly so the left of centre shot whilst the right upper corner works least well as it leads the eye out of the shot.


Image 1

The floor boards in these images serve to lead the eye towards the crystal.  The ones that work best are the ones where the eye can then be led to other components in the shot.  So those on the edge of the shots are less pleasing and demonstrate a poor relationship with the rest of the shot (Images  2, 3, 4 and 5).  The images that work best in relation to the frame are those that  most closely follow the Rule of Thirds.  Ideally, the images that should work best are those that lead our eye from left to right.  So moving into the shot rather than out of it.   Even though Image 2 is less balanced, if looking particularly at the crystal  but the eye is then taken from the crystal to the stain in the upper left third.


Image 2


Image 3

The crystal in shot 3 looks as if it is falling off the edge of the shot but the line of the floorboard leads the viewer to it and from there the eye goes to the joins in the boards across the whole shot.


Image 4


Image 5

In Image 5 the eye is drawn firs to the join in the floorboard directly below the crystal and then to the join on the right and eventually to the join in the bottom left hand third.


Image 6

In Image 6, even though there is a join directly below the crystal the eye is drawn to it and than to the joins firstly on the right and then across to the left.


It frustrates the eye of a viewer if there is no focal point as the eye is not drawn to any one particular part of the photo.

Source: The Importance of a Focal Point in Photo Compositions – PictureCorrect

The Rule of Thirds is a standard artist, photographer and design tool for assisting in the composition of good visual imagery.

rule of thirds2

By placing images at the point each line crosses provides a more balanced picture and also assists in positioning other elements of the shot.

Visual points of interest inside a golden rectangle, any square or rectangle (but especially those based on the golden ratio) contain areas inside it that appeal to us visually. To find those points:1. Draw a straight from each bottom corner to its opposite top corner on either side. They will cross in the exact center of the format.2. From the center to each corner, locate the midway point to each opposing corner.

Source: A Guide to the Golden Ratio (AKA Golden Section or Golden Mean) for Artists


 Note the four points in the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds are almost in the same place.