Exercise Curves

The brief:

Curves, like diagonals, have a sense of movement and direction, and in some ways can be considered a kind of diagonal line. Because they pull the eye in, they are useful in planned composition. Curves have associations of smoothness, grace and elegance, and so add these feelings to an image. For this exercise, look for and take four photographs using curves to emphasise movement and direction.


Fig. 01 Curves - Vancouver Public Library

Fig. 01 Curves – Vancouver Public Library f6.3, 1/800, 55mm, ISO 100

It was one of those very overcast days when I took this photo of the inner courtyard of the Vancouver Public Library. The building is built like an amphitheatre so curves abound in this building. I deliberately framed the shot so that both walls would begin in the top corners of the frame so as to emphasise the sweep of the curvature of the walls. Post-processing took place in Lightroom where I boosted the contrast to 100, brought my highlights down to -100, boosted my shadows to 100 and added 100 clarity, giving it almost an HDR effect. This brought out the details in the sky and building, drawing attention to the beautiful pillars and details in the concrete work and brought out the colour in an image that would have been very flat and muddy.

Fig. 02 Curves - Orchid

Fig. 02 Curves – Orchid f2.8, 1/60, 50mm, ISO 100

Curves occur in nature and the orchid’s petals are graceful and fanlike, the dark veins forming the ribs which come together at the base. No post processing done on this image.

Fig. 03 Curves - Wood

Fig. 03 Curves – Wood f8, 1/50, 30mm, ISO 100

A big, discarded tree trunk has been languishing in our alley for a few years and begun to rot, but I have been intrigued by the patterns and texture for some time so I decided to photograph it for this project. The disintegration process is so far advanced that the trunk no longer has concentric rings visible, but rather S-curves, which are punctuated by dark holes made by insects or woodpeckers. Some post-processing was done in Lightroom, mainly adding some contrast, bringing up the highlights and shadows and raising the black to emphasise the texture.

Fig. 04 Curves - Canada Place

Fig. 04 Curves – Canada Place f8, 1/250, 24mm, ISO 100

The iconic sails roof of Canada Place (cruise ship terminal) are practically a Canadian symbol. During Christmas and on special occasions these sails are illuminated with different colours. Normally one views them from afar and from a much lower viewpoint, so I was very pleased to be able to photograph this roof at eye level when we departed for our Alaskan cruise recently. The gracefully curving sails are reminiscent of the sails of a tall ship and they contrast with the horizontal green canopies and vertical posts below. The undulating pattern of curving sails carry the eye through the image. In Lightroom I boosted the contrast, pulled the highlights down to bring out the details in the clouds and lifted the shadows a tiny tad.

Reference List

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

Kelby, Scott (2014). The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 book for digital photographers, New Riders.