Category Archives: 12 Shapes

Exercise Real and implied triangles

The brief:

Produce two sets of triangular compositions in photographs, one using ‘real’ triangles, the other making ‘implied’ triangles.

Real

  • Find a subject which is itself triangular (it can be a detail of something larger).
  • Make a triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.
  • Make an inverted triangle, also by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame. You may need to think about this one.

Implied

  • Make a still-life arrangement of five or six objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.
  • Make a still-life arrangement as above, but so that the triangle is inverted, with the apex at the bottom.
  • Arrange three people in a group picture in such a way that either their faces or the lines of their bodies makes a triangle.
Fig 01 - Triangle

Fig 01 – Triangle
f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 100

This hewn marble is part of the Centennial Fountain which is in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The rock forms a natural triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 01 - Triangle with lines

Fig 01 – Triangle with lines

Fig 02 – Triangle by perspective, converging at the top of the frame

Fig 02 – Triangle by perspective, converging at the top of the frame
f8, 1/400, 28mm, ISO 200

A wide angled lens causes lines to converge, giving this apartment building a slight triangular perspective as can be seen below. Due to the very inclement weather I boosted the contrast, shadows and clarity and brought down the highlights to bring out detail in the building and sky.

Fig 02 - Triangle with perspective, converging at the top of the frame with lines

Fig 02 – Triangle with perspective, converging at the top of the frame with lines

Fig. 03 - Inverted triangle

Fig. 03 – Inverted triangle
f8, 1/800, 135mm, ISO 100

From my viewing point the Sawyer Glacier in figure 03 formed an inverted triangle, flanked by two mountains forming right angled triangles. All three triangular shapes converge almost in the lower centre  third of the frame drawing attention to the boat, which is highlighted by the triangular reflection of the glacier.

Fig. 03 - Inverted triangle with lines

Fig. 03 – Inverted triangle with lines

Fig 04 - Implied triangle, apex at the top

Fig 04 – Implied triangle, apex at the top
f5.6, 1/80, 50mm, ISO 400

The tomato jam jar, crackers and raspberry/merlot and peppercorn jam jar with its lid form one strong line for the triangle, linking to the blob of jam on the board as seen below. The apex of the triangle is the tomato jam jar. Two sides of the triangle are left to the viewer’s imagination, but the triangular shape is quite clear as can be seen below.

Fig 05 Implied triangle with apex at top with lines

Fig 05 Implied triangle with apex at top with lines

Fig 05 Implied triangle - apex bottom

Fig 05 Implied triangle – apex bottom
f5.6, 1/60, 50mm, ISO 400

Still keeping to the jam theme, I then changed out the tomato jam jar for a similar size and shape jar to that of the raspberry/merlot, namely a mango, passionfruit and kirsh (also very yummy). I simply rotated the board slightly so that the blob of jam now forms the apex of the triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 06 Implied triangle with apex at bottom with lines

Fig 06 Implied triangle with apex at bottom with lines

Fig 06 - Implied triangle with people

Fig 06 – Implied triangle with people
f5.3, 1/640, 40mm, ISO 400

I happened to pass this street artist at Lonsdale Quay and he was obviously drawing the man while his wife looks in in amusement. The position of the three people’s bodies forms a dynamic triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 06 - Implied triangle with people with lines

Fig 06 – Implied triangle with people with lines

Triangles are quite common in nature as well – although you do really have to be looking for them – as I saw recently on my trip to Alaska. Most fir trees in Canada have a conical shape, and I also found snow lines on mountains that were triangular in shape. Triangles that have their apex at the top give the impression of stability and invoke a sense of calm, while those with the apex at the bottom give a feeling of instability, of a precarious balance. Because the top of the triangle, in the latter situation, is broad and weighty it can also seem aggressive. Just look at the photo of Sawyer Glacier – the glacier itself has aggressive tendencies, especially when it calves and hurls ice rocks into the air, or flips over completely.

Reference List

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

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