Exercise: Positioning a point

The brief:

Take three photographs in which there is a single point, placed in a different part of the frame in each example. Justify your reasons in a short note under the picture, or with a numbered reference in your learning log. With these pictures, and with those you selected from your photo library, consider the graphic relationship that the points have with the frame.


In preparation for this exercise I was asked to write down as many examples of situations that would illustrate a point. I was also asked to look through my photo library and note the photographs that contain obvious points.

Some of the examples of situations illustrating a point that I came up with are the following:

  • an eagle in the sky
  • a flower’s stamen or the centre colour
  • a boat in the water
  • duck/geese grazing or paddling in the water
  • a spotlight on an actor/dancer on stage
  • stones on a sandy beach
  • jewels/coloured stones on a contrasting background
  • a shed or grain silo in a field
  • animals grazing in a field
  • hands clasped together on a table/desk
  • a fruit slice on a plate
  • overhead shot of a figure walking in a street
  • single rock in a pool of water
  • an airplane in the sky
  • a book on a table

Below are three examples of points from my photo library.

Preparation Photo 01

Preparation Photo 01

Although quite large, this fighter jet acts as a point against the blue sky. The contrails from the wings provide us with the sense of movement and direction. Even though the jet is in the middle of the frame, it is places high enough in the frame with just enough room in front of the nose to provide some space to fly into.

Preparation Photo 02

Preparation Photo 02

In Photo 02 the downward arch of the palm leaves point towards the focal point of the photo, namely the canopied dining area on the beach. Although the canopy is placed in the centre of the frame, the centre balance is off set by the palm leaves  and the low placement in the frame and thus is not a static composition.

Preparation Photo 03

Preparation Photo 03

The yellow throat of this blue flower serves as the point in this photograph. Place high and to the left in the frame it is offset by the surrounding blue petals and green leaves.

Exercise – Positioning a Point

There are basically three positions for positioning a single point, namely centre which is usually static and uninteresting, slightly off centre which is fairly dynamic and close to the edge which could be a bit risky. I have included a photo below each image with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the photo showing the point.

Figure 1 - Centre Point

Figure 1 – Centre Point – f8.0, 1/640 sec, 155mm, ISO 400

Figure 1a - Centre Point with lines

Figure 1a – Centre Point with lines

As can be seen in Figure 1, the navigational buoy is centrally placed in the frame, with the sea wall in the background falling almost in the horizontal centre. Even though one is cogniscant of the flow of the tide, it is a very predictable and boring composition.

Figure 2 - Off Centre Point

Figure 2 – Off Centre Point – f8, 1/640 sec, 155 mm, ISO 400

Figure 2a - Off centre point with lines

Figure 2a – Off centre point with lines

By placing the buoy slightly off centre and dropping the line of the seawall in the frame the image is now far more interesting and dynamic.

Figure 3 - Edge Point

Figure 3 – Edge Point – f8, 1/500 sec, 155mm, ISO 400

Figure 3a - Edge point with lines

Figure 3a – Edge point with lines

In figure 3 I have placed the buoy almost on the edge of the frame. The horizontal line of the seawall is still below the centre line and this combination creates a dynamic image and there is an element of tension in this placement. I think because there is visible movement in the water and the fact that the buoy is a static object the placement right on the edge of the frame works. If the subject had been a boat or some other type of watercraft heading to frame right the tension would have been all wrong as there would not have been enough room for the subject to move into. However, if the subject was just entering the frame and heading frame left then the composition would have worked equally well.


Freeman, Michael (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press. Lewes, England.