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Saturday, 24 April 2010

Positioning a point

This exercise expands the ‘Points’ project by experimenting with the point in different positions within the frame. The course text and The Photographer’s eye book indicate that there are generally 3 classes of position

  • Middle: Normally associated as being Static and dull
  • Little off-centre: more dynamic than being central
  • Close to the edge: can be extreme and considered eccentric 

The exercise requires 3 shots with the single point placed in a different part of the frame, with justification for the placement in the frame for each image.


The 3 images, although to make a ‘point’ I have 4 images (pun intended), were taken on different times and locations, so rather than explain the setup overall I will just note for each image with the usual camera settings. To concentrate the idea of design elements I have also added a mono version of each image to show the divisions of the frame in relation to the point and take away the impact of colour.


This was taken on a recent trip into London and I caught sight of HEMS flying over so  didn’t have a great deal of time to adjust any camera settings. I was shooting in Aperture priority mode (I set the aperture and camera sets shutter speed for exposure) I always try to shoot in the lowest ISO to reduce noise in the image
250mm f/6.70 1/750 sec ISO 100

As noted I didn’t have a great deal of time to prepare for the shot (matter of a few seconds). I initially focused onto the helicopter in centre of viewfinder (to allow for the camera to focus) I then adjusted the view very slightly so that it was off centre, with the aim of getting it to a loose ‘golden ration’ / ‘Rule of thirds’ position within the frame.

Although the helicopter is not quite in the position I was aiming for (just a little more height and to the left); it’s not central enough to be static and not so close to the right edge to be too off-balance, I also wanted to it to have space to move into, with more space to the left (further away from the left side of the frame) to imply direction and movement into the space, away from the right side of the frame.


This was taken the same day as the first shot but different time and location; I was taking advantage of the nicest weather we have had for some time. I was out looking for subjects to shoot in relation to the exercise and was just thinking that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, then I noticed this spoiling the view. Kidding.

55mm f/19 1/60 sec ISO 100

I framed this in camera (no cropping) putting the cloud in the lower left corner. I will be honest, I don’t know if I can justify exactly why I placed the cloud in that position, other than I didn’t want a static ‘bulls-eye’ image and I didn’t want it falling out of the bottom of frame by being so close to the edge. Subjectively I just liked it placed there, a loose golden ratio / rule of thirds maybe?


This was taken on another sunny day, (loving the weather recently). I was out with camera and again  looking for potential subjects for the assignment. I noticed how Sophie’s (my dog) white fur was so bright in the sunlight and contrasted great against the darker grass.

36mm f/5.6 1/250 sec ISO 100

This was framed in camera again, but it was tough, she was running towards me and it was difficult to keep focus and make her off-centre to avoid a ‘bulls-eye’ image. I think it works well in this case her eye line implies a line towards me and there is space for her to move into. The slight blurring and position of her legs also implies motion and movement towards us along the line. Her position is pretty much spot on to a rule of thirds,  whereby not to close to the edge of the frame and not in the centre.


I know the exercise didn’t call for it but I’ve added a 4th image. I realised that from the first three images, I tended naturally to make the subject off centre, perhaps this is something developing from part1: objects in different positions in the frame of the course; anyway during the same ‘walk’ that image3 was taken I took this one.

55mm f/5.6 1/180 sec ISO 100

Framed in the camera, my daughter is along the middle line of the frame and quite close to the top edge of the frame. I wanted the image to be a bit more different that the previous 3. Despite those factors I think it still works. Her position in the frame and position of limbs implies that she is moving away from us (from bottom of frame to top) and I think being so close to the edge implies the running away and out of the frame. Her size in the frame too, implies some distance; we can see leaves in the grass that are larger (closer) whereas she in comparison is small (diminishing perspective). Finally I used a vertical orientation, again to add emphasis on the feeling of distance and pulling the eyes upwards to the subject.

Interestingly when I was going through older images to look for single points, as well as through the exercise, I noticed that I would naturally try to frame the subject off centre. Although not always the case, for example in the Vertical and Horizontal frames exercise there are quite a few that are centre framed. However I’m not going to get to hung up on this subject; I will just keep in mind how I position points in relation to the frame and the message I’m trying to convey or imply.

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