Exercise: A sequence of composition

The brief:

This exercise will help you to think about the practical process of composing an image. For this you need a situation which involves people – ideally out in the street. The idea is to record the way you approach and shoot a subject from the moment when you catch sight of a possible photograph, to the final best image you can make of it. Ordinarily, you would only shoot when the moment seemed just right, but here you will record all the moments that are ‘almost’ right. …take pictures as you go along. They will be a record of how you moved around and found the best images – a sort of stop-frame movie of your shoot.

After quite a few attempts at this exercise and with some glorious sun shining, I have finally managed to get enough images in one shoot to make up this exercise. I headed downtown to the city centre with my 18-55mm lens where I was sure to find interesting faces and something happening. I heard music while I was walking along one street and followed the sound, realising that it was coming from the Art Gallery. I came to the crosswalk (figure 01).

Figure 01

Figure 01

I crossed over and came across the hat vendor who has her stall on this corner (figure 02). I’ve photographed her many times and she always seems to have a newspaper in her hands.

Figure 02

Figure 02

I walked on past the hat vendor – a few interesting faces and gestures (figure 03).

Figure 03

Figure 03

Ah, the puppet man!  I’ve photographed him (figure 04) on several occasions as well, although he doesn’t usually sit here. Perhaps he has moved his location because of the construction around his usual spot.

Figure 04

Figure 04

I found the source of the music. I took a wide angle shot to capture the whole scene (figure 05).

Figure 05

Figure 05

I noticed the people sitting on the steps of the Art Gallery and moved in closer to get a shot of them (figure 06).

Figure 06

Figure 06

I stepped back to get a closer shot of the band, but I wasn’t crazy about this angle (figure 07). I recognized the band. Its one of the local carnival band – a real motley crew of people who take part in every single parade that happens in the city.

Figure 07

Figure 07

So I moved in closer and changed my viewpoint slightly (figure 08). At this stage I was wishing I had my 55-200mm lens with me. The man with the brightly coloured jacket was just begging for a close up shot.

Figure 08

Figure 08

Another shot to get the other half of the band (figure 09).

Figure 09

Figure 09

I moved over a bit and went vertical – better – now their limbs aren’t amputated (figure 10).

Figure 10

Figure 10

Keeping it vertical I shifted slightly again to include the band leader, but that yellow basket on the bicycle above the female drummer’s head was bothering me (figure 11).

Figure 11

Figure 11

Then I noticed this band member standing well back and she was talking to another photographer (figure 12). This was better. The couple were engaged, the background wasn’t too bad. The figures were sufficiently separated from the trees. This is definitely the best of the band photos.

Figure 12

Figure 12

I turned back to the band again (figure 13) to catch a fairly lively sequence.

Figure 13

Figure 13

I changed position again and noticed that the band had chalked a message on the sidewalk. I took a wide angle shot of this with the band in the background (figure 14).

Figure 14

Figure 14

The band leader was making some jokes, trying to get the audience to depart with a dollar and I turned around to capture some of the expressions (figure 15).

Figure 15

Figure 15

Not finding my ‘eureka’ shot with the band, I decided to head down the street towards the old theatre row and came across these three lasses on the street corner, dressed in green with the green sign of the Lennox Pub (an irish pub) in the background (figure 16).

Figure 16

Figure 16

I headed down towards the theatres and saw this interesting lady approaching (figure 17).

Figure 17

Figure 17

I managed to fire off another shot as she approached and she made contact with the camera, although I don’t think she was aware that I was taking her photo. I think this is the best image of the series.

Figure 18

Figure 18

I got to the end of theatre row and after trying to get a few shots against some interesting window signage, sadly without success, I decided to head back when I came across these two couples walking on either side of the Entertainment Hall of Fame medallions in a mirrored fashion (figure 19).

Figure 19

Figure 19

Down at the corner of Granville Street and West Georgia was this homeless girl and her dog (figure 20). I thought she would make a stark contrast to the carnival band who were also collecting money.

Figure 20

Figure 20

I then turned around and noticed this container on a lamp post, with the young man sitting on the bench in front of the sign – a bit of a double entendre.

Figure 21

Figure 21

I found that I took my time and thought more about some of my shots than I usually do. I sat and waited in front of interesting backdrops for the right scenario to play out, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. If I had had my 55-200 mm lens with me, I probably would have been able to do the entire sequence with the carnival band, as I would have been able to zoom in for detail shots. I had deliberately left that lens at home as I knew I would have to work harder to get closer with the 18-55 mm lens and I didn’t want to take the easy way and take any shots from across the street.

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