Category Archives: Part 1 The Frame

Assignment 1 – Planning

In preparation for the project look through the photographs you have taken previously and try to assemble pairs that represent contrasting concepts. Remember it is visual contracts you are looking for. Try to find at least four contrasting pairs.

In preparation for this assignment I looked back in my arsenal of photos and found four contrasting pairs.

Figure 1 - Diagonal

Figure 1 – Diagonal

Figure 1 could go through for two contrasts in one single image as well as the bolts on the bench depict roundness very nicely.

Figure 2 - Rounded

Figure 2 – Rounded

Figure 3 - Heavy

Figure 3 – Heavy

The sculpture in figure 3 is at least 4 feet high and although it is hollow one would not easily lift it.

Figure 4 - Light

Figure 4 – Light

Light in weight as well as airiness.

Figure 5 - Opaque

Figure 5 – Opaque

Figure 6 - Transparent

Figure 6 – Transparent

Once the plant in figure 5 (I have no idea what it is called) dies down the pods become transparent and the seed is visible (figure 6).

Figure 7 - Few

Figure 7 – Few

Figure 8 - Many

Figure 8 – Many

The few umbrellas lying on the steps were in readiness for the flash mob in figure 8.

For Assignment I should make at least eight pairs from the list below. Note my thoughts at the time of taking the pictures in my notebook and my intentions with regard to each of them. Review this assignment against the assessment criteria. Make notes in the learning log.

Contrasts Table

I am not restricting myself to a theme. The weather is iffy at this time of the year and I don’t want to find myself running out of time to complete the assignment. My images, however, will all be taken in Vancouver.

In preparation for the assignment, I’ve made a list of the contrasts and then looked up possible shooting locations for as many as I could think of. I created a visual table for this to jog my memory. I then added to this table synonyms for all the contrasts, so as to give me a broader scope to work with. So far I have chosen the following pairings, but this may change depending on whether some of my ideas work out or not.

  1. Curved image – definitely want to do the Vancouver Public Library at night when the building is lit up. This building’s architecture is based on the Roman Colosseum and has both curves and rounded parts. The best location will be from Georgia Street. Would like to get light trails from passing cars in the photo as well, so need to shoot from across the street. Might be an interesting shot in the rain as well. Tripod needed.
    Straight image – already have one. Chinese Bell in Chinatown. Might retake it in less harsher light. It could also be used for a single image containing both contrasts.
  2. Transparent image – glass of water reflecting scenery. Glass should be about half to three-quarters full so that top of glass does not show reflection.
    Opaque image – coffee cup show from low down so as not to show any liquid. Could juxtapose these two items together to form single image as well.
  3. Many – I already have many examples of framed filled items.
    Few –  take a single container holding three alphabet tiles spelling “few”. Use shallow depth of field to focus on the tiles.
  4. Diagonal – Olympic torch – lots of diagonal lines, or steps at Robson Square.
    Rounded – Vancouver Public Library seen from Robson Street. Roundness is more visible from that angle. Could be a day time shot. Alternatively the duck crossing sign on Granville Island.
  5. Light – dark room with graphical image projected onto a model’s face. This will be the only light seen.
    Dark – dark room with single light behind the model, casting a rim light around the silhouette.
  6. Light – black background with a couple of jos sticks (incense) burning to create visible smoke to indicate airiness and a feather suspended between the smoke spirals. This is going to be tricky and I will have to play with the lighting. Not sure how yet – maybe lit from below – will have to experiment.
    Feather sketch for light

    Feather sketch for light

    Heavy – stone sculpture – use focal lengths and different view points to accentuate the heaviness aspect.

  7. High – man standing on ledge high up on structure.
    Low – man standing at bottom of large ship.
  8. Still deciding on final pair.

Single image containing two contrastsBlack/White – use white bowl with dark liquid with floating, white candles which have been lit against a black background. Need to check white balance to ensure that blacks are very black and whites are really white. If this doesn’t work out, then I’ll do a portrait with split lighting and convert to black and white.

I’m hoping the weather will play nice for the next two weeks while I’m working on my assignment. Otherwise I’m going to have resort to doing indoor stills and that is not my favourite thing to do.


Exercise Vertical and Horizontal Frames

The brief:

Photograph the same scene twice. Take 20 photographs as vertical – they could be street scenes, or landscapes, but fit everything you shoot into a vertical frame. Layout the processed results…Continue the project with the next 20 shots, by shooting a horizontal version of every vertical composition that you just made.

In order to make good use of my time I shot my vertical and horizontal images straight after each other. That way I could ensure that the scenario was as identical as possible.

Figure 01 - Vertical

Figure 01 – Vertical – Lonsdale Quay

Figure 02 - Horizontal

Figure 02 – Horizontal – Lonsdale Quay

Both orientations work well in figures 01 and 02. The vertical format in figure 01 provides a more intimate interpretation than figure 02, which shows the subjects in context of their surroundings.

Figure 03 - Vertical

Figure 03 – Vertical – Shipbuilders Yard

Figure 04 - Horizontal

Figure 04 – Horizontal – Shipbuilders Yard

For the Shipbuilders Yard images in figures 03 and 04, the horizontal format works best as the crane and offices in the background provide more balance to the image.

Figure 05 - Vertical - Beatty Street

Figure 05 – Vertical – Beatty Street

Figure 06 - Horizontal - Beatty Street

Figure 06 – Horizontal – Beatty Street

This is my favourite street mural in Vancouver. It runs the length of the city block and depicts various famous people who helped shape the city, from Captain Vancouver who discovered the place, to Jimi Hendrix, the guitar player to David Suzuki, the environmentalist. While the deeper perspective of the convergent lines in the vertical format (figure 05) creates a tunnel-like effect between the wall and trees, I also like the horizontal format (figure 06) where more detail is seen on the wall and less attention is given to the sidewalk.

Figure 07 - Vertical - Gate to Chinatown

Figure 07 – Vertical – Gate to Chinatown

Figure 08 - Horizontal - Gate to Chinatown

Figure 08 – Horizontal – Gate to Chinatown

The preferable position to take these images would have been in the middle of the road in front of the big arch, but I was not prepared to risk that so I opted instead to stand in the bus lane as a compromise. In the Gate to Chinatown images (figures 07 and 08), the vertical format works better than the horizontal as the brown building on frame left in figure 08 draws the attention away from the gate.

Figure 09 - Chinese Arches - Vertical

Figure 09 – Chinese Arches – Vertical

Figure 10 - Chinese Arches - Horizontal

Figure 10 – Chinese Arches – Horizontal

Figure 9 and 10 are of the details of the underside of the arches above. They are more abstract in nature. Both images have their merits. Figure 10 has the frame full of the details, while there is a little more perspective in Figure 9 with the sky showing and details on the pillars. Figure 9 also has more diagonal lines which tend to keep the eye busy on the image a tad longer than Figure 10.


Figure 11 - Alley in Chinatown - Vertical

Figure 11 – Alley in Chinatown – Vertical

Figure 12 - Alley in Chinatown - Horizontal

Figure 12 – Alley in Chinatown – Horizontal

Of the two images of the Alley in Chinatown, I definitely prefer figure 12. The image is more balanced and there is more detail visible on the walls. The wider perspective of the converging lines of the alley provide a greater depth in figure 12 than in figure 11.

Figure 13 - Portrait of Rumbi - Vertical

Figure 13 – Portrait of Rumbi – Vertical

Figure 14 - Portrait of Rumbi - Horizontal

Figure 14 – Portrait of Rumbi – Horizontal

Figure 13 provides a more intimate moment with the viewer than figure 14. The green newpaper vending box and car in figure 14 are a little distracting, although they are sufficiently blurred that the subject is separated from the background. I prefer the short lighting on the face in figure 13 as it adds more definition to her cheekbones than the butterfly lighting in figure 14.

Figure 15 - Squamish Nation Welcome Figure at Ambleside Beach - Vertical

Figure 15 – Squamish Nation Welcome Figure at Ambleside Beach – Vertical

Figure 16 - Squamish Nation Welcome Figure at Ambleside Beach - Horizontal

Figure 16 – Squamish Nation Welcome Figure at Ambleside Beach – Horizontal

Figure 16 provides more context than figure 15 and although the rocky foreground still dominates the scene it is softened by the diagonal slope to the left of the frame. The foreground also look better without the log which is in the foreground in figure 15.

Figure 17 - West Vancouver - Vertical

Figure 17 – West Vancouver – Vertical

Figure 18 - West Vancouver - Horizontal

Figure 18 – West Vancouver – Horizontal

Both images (figure 17 and 18) work quite well. My preference would be towards figure 18 as I prefer the wider angle and the full view of the mountains in the background.

Figure 19 - Water feature - Vertical

Figure 19 – Water feature – Vertical

Figure 20 - Water Feature - Horizontal

Figure 20 – Water Feature – Horizontal

Both images water feature images (figures 19 and 20) work well as the water feature symmetrically balanced simulating the trees surrounding it. I’m inclined to favour the vertical version because I feel the branches framing the top of the image draw one into the image more, while this effect is lost in the horizontal photo.

Figure 21 - Tankers in Harbour - Vertical

Figure 21 – Tankers in Harbour – Vertical

Figure 22 - Tankers in Habour - Horizontal

Figure 22 – Tankers in Habour – Horizontal

Yet another grey day in Vancouver. The horizontal image (figure 22) is definitely a stronger image than figure 21. Too much foreground is showing in figure 21 and the division of the elements in the frame does not work well. Weighty longitudinal elements show better in a horizontal frame.

Figure 23 - Chinese Street Sign - Vertical

Figure 23 – Chinese Street Sign – Vertical

Figure 24 - Chinese Street Sign - Horizontal

Figure 24 – Chinese Street Sign – Horizontal

In the Chinese Street Sign set (figures 23 and 24), the vertical image undoubtedly is the better image. There is more context in the photo and the balance is better.

Figure 25 - Blue Heron - Vertical

Figure 25 – Blue Heron – Vertical

Figure 26 - Blue Heron - Horizontal

Figure 26 – Blue Heron – Horizontal

I think that in the set of the Blue Heron, the vertical orientation of figure 25 emphasizes the bird’s long legs. I also prefer the 200mm focal length which shows more detail of the bird than the 122mm in figure 26.

Figure 27 - Seagull on Perch - Vertical

Figure 27 – Seagull on Perch – Vertical

Figure 28 - Seagull on Perch - Horizontal

Figure 28 – Seagull on Perch – Horizontal

Figure 27 is the better composition of the pair. The dark post and the perch that the seagull is standing on provide a symmetrical balance to the frame and the frame is more solidly weighted by the perch’s supporting pole at the bottom right of the frame. The dark pole in figure 28 just cuts the frame in half and is a distracting element. The horizontal image would work better without this pole.

Figure 29 - Grand Boulevard - Vertical

Figure 29 – Grand Boulevard – Vertical

Figure 30 - Grand Boulevard - Horizontal

Figure 30 – Grand Boulevard – Horizontal

Of the Grand Boulevard pairing (figures 29 and 30) the horizontal version is the stronger image. More details is shown of the park and the various shrubbery provides more interest to the viewer.

Figure 31 - Lonsdale Pier - Vertical

Figure 31 – Lonsdale Pier – Vertical

Figure 32 - Lonsdale Pier - Horizontal

Figure 32 – Lonsdale Pier – Horizontal

Both images (figures 31 and 32) of Lonsdale Pier work equally well. They are symmetrically balanced as I was standing in the centre of the railway tracks and the water on either side of the pier forms perfect right angled triangles to provide further balance. It does seem as if the pier in figure 31 stretches deeper into the image than in figure 32, but this probably just due to lens compression as both photos were taken at 48mm.

Figure 33 - Pleasure Cruiser - Vertical

Figure 33 – Pleasure Cruiser – Vertical

Figure 34 - Pleasure Cruiser - Horizontal

Figure 34 – Pleasure Cruiser – Horizontal

There is too much foreground in the way of water before the gangway and too much sky in figure 33. Figure 34 is stronger as the gangway provides a diagonal leading line into the photo from bottom frame right. There is also more context in the background in figure 34.

Figure 35 - Shipyard Crane - Vertical

Figure 35 – Shipyard Crane – Vertical

Figure 36 - Shipyard Crane - Horizontal

Figure 36 – Shipyard Crane – Horizontal

Because the yellow crane is tall and wide, both formats (figures 35 and 36) work well for this subject. My personal preference would be the horizontal format which shows more of the landing and also shows the little family there providing a sense of scale for this high crane.

Figure 37 - Tanker - Vertical

Figure 37 – Tanker – Vertical

Figure 38 - Tanker - Horizontal

Figure 38 – Tanker – Horizontal

Figure 38 works better than figure 37 due to the lower placement of the subject in the frame and there is not such a great expanse of sky in figure 38. I noticed that I have clipped the left side of figure 37 slightly. I will have to check in the field more carefully so that I can retake on the spot. The background tones and those of the ship’s stern are fairly similar.

Figure 39 - Pilings - Vertical

Figure 39 – Pilings – Vertical

Figure 40 - Pilings - Horizontal

Figure 40 – Pilings – Horizontal

In this final set (figures 39 and 40) the vertical format offers a better perspective due to the vertical nature of the pilings. I would have like to achieve more depth of focus from these two images as my aperture was f5, but possibly the pilings were too close to the background (there was a ship just behind which I have cropped out of figure 39).

This exercise was incredibly time consuming and I feel the purpose would have been equally served with a total of twenty images instead of forty. I was disappointed that I did not get a better mix of genres for this exercise as I would have like. However, I am more aware of taking vertical shots and will make a point of doing so more often.

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.

Exercise Cropping

The brief:

Select three of your own photographs. Each should be of a different subject. Perform the same cropping project as you did for the landscape. If digital, first print the original full frame, then crop and print again. Note the results in the form of tracing or sketches with a brief note describing the logic behind your choice of cropping.

(Note to tutor: I have explained my cropping process in the paragraphs below, as I do not have access to Photoshop on my computer. If the tracing or sketches are absolutely necessary please advise and I will do them by hand).

Courtyard of Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, featuring a white marble statue of Christopher Columbus (1862). Habana Vieja. Havana, Cuba.

Figure 1 – Statute of Christopher Columbus (original)

In the photograph of the Courtyard of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, featuring a white marble statue of Christopher Columbus (1862) in Havana, Cuba (figure 1) the open space on either side of the pillars framing the statute is distracting. I performed a crop to tighten up this space so that the pillars would touch the side of the frame, thus eliminating the gaps and I also reduced a bit of the foreground, as can be seen in figure 2.

Courtyard of Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, featuring a white marble statue of Christopher Columbus (1862). Habana Vieja. Havana, Cuba.

Figure 2 – Statute of Christopher Columbus – cropped

Figure 3 - Bottles of tequila - original

Figure 3 – Bottles of tequila – original

In figure 3 the wood carving on the right side of the frame dominates the actual subject matter, namely the interesting bottles of tequila and the background is too busy. I performed a very tight crop around two bottles, getting rid of the carving and other half bottle on the right and also cutting the sky, palm trees and umbrella tops, and white linen at the bottom of the frame (figure 4). This crop brings the bottles to the forefront, creating more depth from the background. The background is now more contextual and does not distract.

Figure 4 - Bottles of tequila - cropped

Figure 4 – Bottles of tequila – cropped


Figure 5 - Resident of Chinatown - original

Figure 5 – Resident of Chinatown – original

The row of bricks on the right side of the frame in figure 5 is distracting and keeps drawing the eye away from the subject (elderly man in red jacket). I performed a slight crop to remove the brick work and the heavy door frame and a bit of the grey wall above the shop window and the red posts above the yellow sign on frame left (figure 6). In doing this my subject was moved over to a rule of thirds intersecting position and this moves him closer to the viewer and creates a more personal moment as if he is about to meet you.

Figure 6 - Resident of Chinatown - cropped

Figure 6 – Resident of Chinatown – cropped

Exercise: Positioning the horizon

The brief:

To find a viewpoint outdoors that gives you a reasonably interesting landscape in which there is an unbroken and clear horizon. View the scene through the camera and consider the different positions in which you can arrange the horizon line in the frame. Take a photograph of each so that you end up with a short sequence in which the horizon is ranged from top to bottom.

Finding an unbroken and clear horizon is almost impossible here in Vancouver where I live as the city is surrounded by mountains, water and in the distance, islands with more mountains. So I headed down to Ambleside beach, one of the very few places where I could get a semblance of a horizon, albeit with mountains in the far distance. My outing was squeezed in between rainstorms, so the scenery is not as vibrant as it can be on a bright, sunny day. The peninsula that is jutting out on the horizon is Vancouver West and at the very tip the location of the University of British Columbia. In the distance behind the ships is Vancouver Island with its mountains.

I took a series of 6 photographs from the same position, hand holding the camera.

Figure 01 - horizon top

Figure 01 – horizon top

This was the highest I could get the horizon in the frame without changing position. There is a lot of sand and messy driftwood foreground in the photo, which detracts from the horizon.

Figure 02 - horizon slightly above centre

Figure 02 – horizon slightly above centre

With the slight decrease in the amount of foreground the horizon is receiving a bit more attention. A few more clouds are visible which also helps to draw attention to the upper half of the frame.

Figure 03 - horizon a little above centre

Figure 03 – horizon a little above centre

The foreground has decreased quite dramatically and the photo is looking more interesting.

Figure 04 - horizon centre

Figure 04 – horizon centre

In Figure 04 the horizon is in the centre of the frame. The photograph lacks tension and if it wasn’t for the cloud formation, would be very static.

Figure 05 - horizon below centre

Figure 05 – horizon below centre

With the horizon below the centre in Figure 05, the image is now beginning to develop a visual tension. More focus is on the sky than the foreground.

Figure 06 - horizon bottom

Figure 06 – horizon bottom

I would probably have been able to put the horizon on the final photo a little lower if I had changed my stance slightly. In comparing Figure 05 with Figure 06, it seems that I did, in fact, shift a bit, possibly one side step, as I now have a third log in view at the bottom right corner of my frame. However, I did not want to lose the figures in the foreground as I think they create an interesting anchor point in the frame. The boat that has just entered the frame also provides another point of interest. There is definitely more visual interest in the sky in Figure 06, with the rain clouds rolling in over the sea.

The horizon placement in these images probably work in each scenario, but I definitely prefer Figure 06, with the emphasis placed on the sky which has more visual interest than the grey sea.


Exercise – Balance

The brief:

Take half a dozen of your own already-taken photographs and decide how the balance works in each one. Look for what seems to you to be the dominant part (or parts) of the image. Identify them in a small rectangular sketch and alongside sketch the ‘weighing scale’ interpretation.

Figure 01 - Balance 01

Figure 01

Balance scaleI have identified three dominant parts to the image in Figure 01. The Hotel Europe (centre) is balanced equally by the buildings and large tree on either side. Although there are cars in the foreground I do not regard them as being dominant, but rather providing secondary visual interest.

Figure 02 - Balance 02

Figure 02

Balance scaleIn figure 02 it is clear that there are two dominant parts in this image, namely the woman in the pink dress and the colourful mural on the wall that she is looking at. Her gaze confirms this. The building behind the painted wall simply continues the visual line of sight. This is an example of dynamic or asymmetrical balance.

Figure 03 - Balance 03

Figure 03

Balance scaleAnother example of dynamic balance is featured in figure 03. The woman wearing sunglasses and the man in the hoodie behind her form a cohesive dominant part of the image and therefore I have grouped them together, while the woman on the left just entering the frame forms another dominant part.

Figure 04 - Balance 04

Figure 04

Balance scaleFigure 04 is an example of a centrally balanced image.

Figure 05 - Balance 05

Figure 05

Balance scaleAnother example of dynamic balance: the man’s torso and the puppet are the two most important components of this image.

Figure 06 - Balance 06

Figure 06

Balance scaleAlthough there are many dominating components in figure 06 I feel that the main balance lies between the two individuals seated on the bench and the high rise buildings on frame right as they are diagonally opposite each other. The buildings are darker and taller than Canada Place (the white structure in the middle) and if one looks carefully in the square I have marked around these buildings, one will see that Canada Place originates in this square, so it is really an extension of that section. I also feel that the colour plays an important part in determining dominance, white being a recessive colour and tends to blend more into the background.

I found this exercise quite difficult for a number of reasons – sifting through a ton of images to make a few selections is a daunting task at the best of times. (Maybe I will keyword my future images with balancing terminology in future). There is so much to consider when considering balance – it isn’t just about the weight of the image, but also about tone, colour rhythm and tension. As stated by Freeman in The Photographer’s Eye (p. 42), “the more extreme the asymmetry, the more the viewer expects a reason for it.”

Exercise: Focal lengths and different viewpoints – for cameras with variable focal lengths

The brief:

Find a scene that has enough space in front of it to allow you a choice of viewpoint, from near to far. Avoid a flat subject, it must have some depth. Start with the telephoto lens and make a tightly framed composition with the subject filling the frame. Study the view through the viewfinder very carefully, and remember the limits at the edges of the frame. Take your shot. Change lenses to the wide-angle. Then, in a straight line, walk forward, looking through the viewfinder until the same subject fills the frame. Take the second shot and compare the results.

For this exercise I used my 18 – 55mm kit lens and headed down to the beach to see if I could get some interesting shots. After just having had my sensor cleaned due to a lot of dust that I got on one of the previous exercises I did not want to take the chance of swopping lenses at the beach. (Note to self: buy a sensor cleaning kit). We have some interesting sculptures near Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, but unfortunately nothing that would have been viable from the beach for the exercise. As I was leaving the beach area I notice a maple tree on the open field near the parking lot and decided to try the exercise on the tree.

Figure 01 - 55mm

Figure 01 – 55mm

One can see the road in front of the tree and just on the right hand side one of the posts of the Lions Gate bridge and in the distance a soccer field and baseball diamond.

Figure 02 - 18mm

Figure 02 – 18mm

The perspective changes quite dramatically at 18mm as can be seen in Figure 02. The bridge is quite visible now and the soccer field and baseball diamond looks as if they are very far away indeed. The expanse of grass looks like it has tripled in depth. Some houses and a fence can also be seen on the left of the frame, which were not visible at 55mm. The tree’s appearance to my eye has also changed a bit – it is almost as if the branches have all been drawn upwards more.

The following day I headed downtown and repeated this exercise with a sculpture of one of the lions that flank the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Figure 03 - 55mm

Figure 03 – 55mm

I was standing on the opposite end of the staircase in front of the other lion when I made this image at 55mm (figure 03). I then walked forward and stopped almost at the edge of the pedestal (when my frame was filled).

Figure 04 - 18mm

Figure 04 – 18mm

The change in perspective is more prominent in this image (figure 04) because of the linear perspective of the inward convergence of the building behind the sculpture and the tree on the right hand side. Fewer stairs are visible, but more detail is visible from the front of the pedestal. Even though this image would probably look better taken with a tilt-shift lens to straighten out the converging lines, I like this image best because it has more of a 3D feel to it than the one in figure 03 which is a bit flat. There is also more a sense of power from this perspective. One could say that the building and tree are may well be paying homage to the lion.

This exercise has made me more aware of the different effects telephoto and wide-angle lenses can have and I will work future scenarios more with various focal lengths to diversify my compositions.