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Sunday, 21 March 2010

A Sequence of composition

This exercise was about the practical process of composing an image. The idea was to keep looking through the camera viewfinder while checking out possible pictures. However rather than wait for the ‘best shot’ the idea was to take pictures as I went  along, recording how and why I moved from one shot to the next and create a sort of sequence.


I went down to Borough Market in London and wandered around the stalls with camera in hand enjoying the atmosphere and looking for inspiration to start. The problem was I had forgotten the brief and was 'looking with my eyes and not taking any photos!

Also this type of candid ‘shoot’ is something I’m not used to; I tend to focus on still life or using willing models (family) so probably a little out of my comfort zone. That said after a short while wandering around I got my act together and remembering the brief I got on with it! 

The weather was very cold but sunny  a lot of intermittent cloud, so the light conditions were ever changing (no flash was used); the sequence of shots were taken from under a large glass cover. Rather than switching between lenses I decided to keep a 55-250mm lens on throughout the shoot for convenience. I kept the camera in aperture priority and kept it at the widest aperture where possible and left the camera to set the shutter speed exposure. I left the ISO sensitivity to auto throughout the exercise; I wanted to concentrate on the sequence rather worry about the ever changing light conditions (bright sunny day with intermittent cloud, constant changing angle of view, the concentration of people).


116mm f/4.5 1/350 sec ISO 200

Although I call this Image1 there were a number of ‘failed’ attempts to get started before this sequence. Most of them I didn’t get past the second photo! Anyway I thought by setting the scene for the sequence placing the viewers mind to where I was and some context of being in a market; it also felt like a logical place to start. 


55mm f/4 1/1000 sec ISO 200

After setting the scene in Image1 I widened the angle of view to take more of the scene in and decided where I was going next, as I did I noticed the lights suspended from the glass roof above the first shot.


146mm f/4.5 1/500 sec ISO 200

Following on from Image2 I extended the focal length to bring the subject closer (and reducing the angle of view) to bring more attention to it.


55mm f/4 1/250 sec ISO 200

Not seeing much else through the viewfinder from the glass roof from image3 (and starting to think I’m about to lose the sequence again) I pulled the focal length back to 55mm and brought the camera down and to the right as I did so the bright yellow sign and the words ‘cool Chile co’ caught my eye. It was after the shot that I noticed the man collecting his change from a  stall (albeit with an ‘O’ out the top of his head) .


55mm f/4 1/500 sec ISO 200

Continuing a slow scan downwards from where the man collecting his change was standing, the bread stall caught my eye; with the 3 busy girls serving customers and the fantastic array of gold and brown colours of the breads.


96mm f/4.5 1/350 sec ISO 200

Closing in with the focal length the movement of the girls hand towards the bread caught my eye


163mm f/5.6 1/350 sec IS0 200

I increased the focal length further, reducing the angle of view to concentrate on what she was doing.


124mm f/4.5 1/350 sec IS0 200

She was quick! as I was ‘zoomed’ in and the angle was a lot smaller she had picked the bread up and pulled her arm out of the shot. I pulled back on the focal length and took a shot without thinking too much about it.


116mm f/4.5 1/350 sec ISO 200

As I continued to shorten the focal length the same girl placed down a paper bag with the bread in; I continued and started to focus in on the bag.


200mm f/5.6 1/250 sec ISO 200

I continued to concentrate on the bag closing in (increasing the focal length) on the lettering of their logo


250mm f/5.6 1/250 sec IS0 320

Still staying with the bag I maxed out the focal length on my lens filling the frame with the bag and lettering.


116mm f/4.5 1/250 sec ISO 200

At this point I was feeling pretty happy with the opportunities from the bread stall and was thinking that would do nicely! However I started to pull back the focal length and carried on to see what happened..


70mm f/4 1/125 sec IS0 200

The sequence continued; the customer had paid form the bread and the transaction continued, I tried to keep my attention on the activity between the hands. (I also noticed another person taking photo’s in the background..I wander if it was another OCA student doing the same thing as me. Now that would be funny!


55mm f/4 1/180 sec ISO 200

I kept with the transaction, changing focal lengths (for no particular reason) as the sequence evolved as the girl was handing back the customers change.


55mm f/4 1/180 sec ISO 200

I stayed with the subject and continued to take photo’s of the transaction.


250mm f/5.6 1/250 sec ISO 200

Transaction over!


79mm f/4.5 1/90 sec ISO 200

After Image16 I pulled the focal length back to 55mm and surveyed the bread stall, then without thinking too much I closed in on the some of the bread, thinking it as being my ‘final’ shots.


109mm f/4.5 1/125 sec ISO 320

I was going to leave it here, but I was on a roll (if you will excuse the pun…) and decided to keep going.


55mm f/4 1/500 sec ISO 200

Admittedly I took the camera away from my eye for a few moments, after image 18 then took this shot without thinking about it too much again.


74mm f/4.5 1/90 sec ISO 200

I noticed that the girl in the light coloured top was dealing with another customer, so I decided to follow the action to see where it lead.


84mm f/4.5 1/90 sec ISO 320

I continued to take shots as the ‘action’ continued tightening the frame to concentrate the interest to the seller.


96mm f/4.5 1/90 sec ISO 400

As above, continued to increase the focal length and capture the interaction between the customer and seller, you can now see the customer’s hand enter the frame from the left, and interaction with a smaller bag and larger bag.


116mm f/4.5 1/125 sec ISO 640

As I brought the angle down, I cut out the customers arm from the shot as my interest started to concentrate on the small bag the seller was putting into the larger bag. I continued to follow the scene with the small bag in mind.


135mm f/4.5 1/125 sec ISO 800

As I was closing in on her, she was putting the smaller bag inside the larger, but she suddenly stopped and looked back at the customer. My guess is the customer out of shot decided that they didn’t need the larger bag too; the seller reacted and started to hand  the smaller bag back, so I followed the movement and…


194mm f/5.6 1/500 sec ISO 800

…The final shot. The scene was constantly moving but I followed the bag getting the tightest frame I could; making this the subject of interest for the final part of the sequence.

This exercise was great for me as it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m not used to taking this type of photograph, normally relying on still life and people I know; however after a few failed starts I started to enjoy it.

In terms of the sequence I’m pretty happy with the results, arguably there is more than one sequence within the set of images; I think of them as chapters within a narrative. i.e. images 1-3 are aimed high and have a ‘green/blue’ tone to them. images 4-18 follow a sequence of one transaction finishing on the bread itself, and images 19-25 are of another interaction and ending up bringing attention to the small bag and the final shot.

It has been a good lesson in using the viewfinder to ‘search’ and frame for interesting shots, rather than searching out the shots first then framing in the viewfinder. I found the technique useful to ‘get me going’ too. For once I started scanning and taking photos I got into a kind of rhythm, finding images that I found interesting, more readily than I otherwise would normally. I will definitely like to try this again.

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