Connect with me on Google+

Friday, 28 May 2010

Assignment2 Submission

As with the first assignment I’ve opted to not upload my assignment notes to the blog at this time; I have sent printed versions and notes direct to my Tutor and await my feedback. I will continue with the next stages (Colour) and will update the blog in due course (with assignment feedback).

Rhythms and patterns

For this exercise the idea is to produce 2 images, one to convey rhythm and the other pattern.


This section/exercise is where greater amounts of design elements are massed together into an order of repetition, resulting in rhythms and patterns.

  • Rhythm – movement of the eye in the picture with a visual beat (dynamic)
  • Pattern – static and area (spatial)


250mm f/5.6 1/125 sec ISO 100

This was taken of some buildings close to Charing Cross train station in London. I used a short angle of view (250mm focal length) on these rows of windows. This compressed perspective to create a ‘beat diagonally across the frame. 


135mm f/4.5 1/60 sec ISO 100

I took another version of the same building but with a slightly shorter focal length and in a horizontal frame. Although the angle of compression is less (remember back to the diagonals exercises about the compression of the perspective), I feel that the Rhythm is still strong none the less.


28mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

A fairly regular pattern of some beer bottle tops. I wanted to keep as many of the tops in the frame but at the same time have them go beyond the frame too, so that it appears to fill the space and beyond with a continuing pattern. Although generally static The different designs of the tops add some interest. Also I had a lot of fun getting the props for this…

Here are some other shots that I took when I was trying to find suitable candidates for this exercise. Just playing with Photoshop Just playing with Photoshop

5 minutes of fame

Greenwich Park

It's hardly a front page photograph, but I was still quite pleased when I submitted this photograph for inclusion to Schmap Guides and received the mail below. There was not ‘profit’ involved it was just for fun, but it was still a nice feeling that it was used!

Schmap London Eleventh Edition: Photo Inclusion


Hi Graham,
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released eleventh edition of our Schmap London Guide:

Greenwich Park i=1187_139.jpg
If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the iPhone version of our guide at:

Greenwich Park ights_panora...
Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please enjoy the guide!

Best regards,

Editor, Schmap Guides

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Keith Thompson - Photographer

I was lucky enough to attend a photography presentation recently where the main speaker was Keith Thompson professional photographer. His main focus is in the wedding and portrait photography business, and throughout his career has collected many awards nationally for his work including 8 wedding photographer of the year titles. You can see his work on his website

His presentation was focused on basic studio lighting techniques for portraiture photography, some background to the business of wedding photography and some Photoshop techniques that he uses. I made notes in a notebook throughout the presentation.

The presentation started off with a slideshow of a recent wedding shoot, he explained that to remain competitive in business he tries to provide something unique to his work and where possible (a lot would depend on the client though) move away from traditional styles of wedding photographs. This could be seen from the slideshow; there was a definite ‘fashion’ feel to the photographs and I was very impressed with some of the ideas.

He explained that for some weddings there could be as many as 1700 shots taken for a full day! However after the first pass it would be cut down to 800 images for client proofing. Although this still sounds a lot, he explained using batch controls on editing software these can be sorted and presented relatively quickly.

Keith then showed another slideshow that demonstrated his studio portraiture work. I noticed that a lot of these were actually very simple in composition (minimum distractions and props) with attention nearly always drawn to the eyes of the subject, however what made the most impact was the way the lighting was used, a lot were high key in light, with very light backgrounds. He explained that that the lighting is the first thing to get right and he considers it to be the most important aspect of his work.

Keith then demonstrated a basic setup with 2 studio lights. I found this really interesting as I’ve never had the opportunity to see how a studio could be set up. The main light was contained in a soft box. This diffused the hardness of the flash and light to a softer and more evenly spread light. I was surprised on how close this was from the models face. The second light used a small dish, with a honeycomb filter that prevents light from spilling out the side and creates a spotlight beam effect on the models hair from behind.

Keith explained the concepts of broad lighting (where the main light is on the side facing the camera), narrow lighting (where the main light is on the side not towards the camera) and the importance of the positioning of the light source around the model as well as height and how this affects shadows on the face and how light catches the eyes. This was fascinating! There were so many ideas that I have never thought of before and the tips about positioning the models head to create emphasis on the eyes were really clever yet very simple to implement.

I have purposely left specific details and tips in my notebook; a lot of the ideas and techniques were around the idea of using light and that is covered later in the course; I want to have a go at recreating some of the techniques and effects first (as best I can with my kit), so that I have examples of them for the log. I will then refer back to this post and introduce more detail then.

The final part of the presentation was around post production work and the common ‘touching up’ techniques that he uses to improve the look of the images using Photoshop CS version.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable presentation; I got to see equipment I’ve never used before in action, have the uses explained and I think I learnt something about lighting techniques for portraits in order to create drama and dimension to a photograph.

Portraiture photography is an area I’ve not really explored, so it’s given me some great ideas to try for myself in the future, and when I do I will publish to the blog.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Real and implied triangles

This exercise is to explore one of the most common shapes in images, that being of triangles. The idea of the exercise is to come up with 2 sets of compositions. One being real triangles and the other being implied triangles.


For some reason I struggled to get started with this one. I think it was to do with the fact I had started seeing triangles everywhere but I just wasn’t taking the shots. Maybe a bit of photographers block for this exercise.

Again most of the images are from various locations and times and were taken in different order than as displayed.

Real Triangles


100mm f/5.6 1/350 ISO 100

Find a subject which is itself triangular

I must have found loads of triangles through this exercise! However I just really linked the simplicity of this one; the top of some railings close to Trafalgar Square London. The arrowhead is an obvious triangle shape, emphasised by the dark contrasted against the brighter and shallow depth (using a longer focal length and slightly larger aperture). Here is another but a wider view of the same scene and I’ve added a border to it.


18mm f/16 1/60 ISO 100

Make a triangle by perspective converging towards the top of the frame

The linear perspective / diagonals of the road edges and the painted white lines create a number of triangles with the point towards the top of the frame to a vanishing point. I took the image level (eye height) and used a wide angle that added a slight distortion at the base of the triangle. I cropped to a more panoramic image to emphasis the perspective and have the points of the triangles close to the top of the frame, leading your up towards it. 


34mm f/4.5 1/90 ISO 100

Make an inverted triangle by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame

To create this triangle I pointed the camera down towards the bottom right corner of a concrete ‘window’ space while standing quite close to it. The light coming through the gap creates the contrast  against the dark side of the stonework that is in the shade (out of the light). As in the other ‘real’ triangle images the the horizontal and verticals of the frame also add contrast the the diagonals. The diagonal lines of the triangle (and vertical) draws the eye to the centre of the frame

Implied Triangles


100mm f/5.6 1/350 ISO 100

Make a still life to produce triangle with apex towards top of frame

The 3 balanced apples create the 3 points of the triangle. I feel that the vertical orientation of the frame draws the eye upwards from the bottom 2 apples, making the centre framed apple the dominant point of the triangle; this is further strengthened by  the 3 stems of the apple, creating mini vertical lines. The highlights created by the light source also creates 3 points of a triangle within the darker apple skin.


100mm f/5.6 1/350 ISO 100

Make a still life to produce triangle with apex towards bottom of frame

A simple reversal of the first implied triangle by placing the apple ‘towards’ us and turning so that the stem is towards the camera. I think in this version you are drawn down from the top of the frame in contrast to the first implied example. I changed the orientation and crop of the frame to horizontal, however I think this has made the image more static.


18mm f/3.5 1/60 ISO 400

Arrange 3 people in a group that imply a triangle

The position of these 3 people create a downward pointing but shallow triangle. The height of the heads create the points centred on the girl, who is also centred in the frame.

As I said before this was another one of those exercises that took me a long time to get to get started on. At first it seemed quite a straightforward exercise, although there are plenty of ‘triangles’ out there, I struggled to find images that I liked, or fit the criteria to a standard. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself!

Here is another implied triangle for free!


“A shape is both an outline and an enclosure”

A definable shape organises parts of a picture”

(from course OCA text)

This next exercise is about how ‘shapes’ are not only objects but can also be implied much as ‘lines’ could be in the previous exercises.  These shapes can be regular or irregular and some being easily recognizable shapes:

  • Triangles – frequent, activity, dynamic, can provide/create perspective
  • Rectangles  - Formal, enclosing, precise, static, appear artificial
  • Circles – less frequent, tight, compact enclosure, imposes a lot of structure, draws eye inwards

While others are uneven and are not defined. The course text suggests that the most useful shape in composition is the triangle; being made up of diagonals makes the composition more active and can bring order to an image.

If you look back at the diagonals exercises from earlier you will notice that many triangles were easily identified.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Implied Lines

Part I

From the following 2 photographs that were in the course materials, find implied lines showing them as a sketch.

I’ve marked on the images what I felt were the implied lines. In the Bullfighter image there is a line created by the cape in the Matadors left hand extending movement of this cape to his rear, but I would suggest that the more dominant line through the image is from the extension of movement (from the dust and movement of capes) of the bull towards the cape in the Matadors right hand and the sweeping motion of this cape around to the right as he pulls the cape from the path of the bull. I think the horizontal of the barrier in the background gives further context to the image, but I think also draws the eye from left to right, that strengthen the direction of the bull and cape (towards the right). Finally in my mind, the Matador’s eye-line towards the head of the bull as he follows it around.

In the photograph my Gotthard Schuh, I felt that I identified a number of implied lines; the eye line of the man controlling the horses, drawing you towards the horses, but then we have the diagonal eye line of the horses drawing my eye to the right of the image and past the man. For me the horse’s eye line combined with the implied extension of movement and direction of the horses (curving towards the bottom right of the frame) makes up the dominate direction line. I also think the man’s opposing eye line (with direction of horses) creates a contrast for the eyes to move between, further adding to the feeling of movement.

Part II

Find 3 photographs of your own and perform the same analysis


18mm f/3.8 1/97 sec ISO 200

The positioning of the heads creates the direction of the eye lines towards the mini board game; with eyes looking down adding strength to these lines too. The child’s arm touching the board also creates a line to direct us towards it, but I think the eye lines have dominance over it.


18mm f/8 1/160 sec ISO 200

Taken during a trip to the Brecon Beacons (just hiking up from Storey Arms car park); the lines in this photograph is about lines that ‘point’. The lines that are created by the contrasting stones and earth of the path, and grass, are the dominating lines. They work with the extension of movement (created by the walker) and the sense of movement strengthened by the shallow curve of the path  away from the bottom of the frame (and away from us). There are other pointing lines too, the diagonal ridge line (left to right) draws us to the walker; even the dark trees top right in the frame, create a diagonal line to the head of the walker. I think these lines added with the near ‘rule of thirds’ makes it pretty clear what we are being directed to.


18mm f/3.8 1/100 sec ISO 200

I think the chocolate chick contrast to it’s background and its centre position, makes it stand out a lot, drawing the eye to it; however the extension of both arms (lines) as well as the implied eye line draws you to the larger egg, creating a sort of tension in the frame.

Part III

Plan and take 2 further photographs and perform the same analysis


45mm f/5.6 1/180 sec ISO 100

I also played around with the crop just for fun to see how the impact changed;

I took a lot of the points and lines shots on the same day, and this one was a nice example of the use of eye lines. There is an implied line between 2 points anyway (see relationship between points) but this is strengthened by the eye lines of the dogs toward each other.


This version was from the earlier relationship between points exercise, I’ve added it here to show the eye line in that image too; just because I liked the expression on the dogs face.

Lines that Point

18mm f/5.6 1/45 sec ISO 100

I was lucky with this shot. I was trying to use the line of the path to ‘point’ towards my dog, however the bright light through the trees behind created this great shadow that just happened to point and lead my eyes directly at her, along with the diagonal path line behind her also directs the eye towards the dog, however the tree shadow is by far the more the dominant line.

Extension of a line

35mm f/10 1/45 sec ISO 100

I know, I know the exercise was for only 2 images but it’s my blog and I didn’t want to leave this one out or replace any of the others (taken on the same day as the previous image). Although the focus is drawn to the centre composition on the girl (point - light contrasted on dark) associated as being static, the image also contains some strong diagonals created by the railing and the shadow on the steps. I feel that these lines extend into the space in front of the girl and in turn draws the eye forward into the frame. Along with these lines and the extension of movement of the girl moving away from us into the same space, adds animation to the photograph.

Although in my mind I think I understood the feelings of movement, direction and animation it wasn’t  always as easy to articulate what I was trying to demonstrate in these exercises, hopefully anyone reading will understand where I was coming from.

Using lines in composition

This next area takes ‘lines’ and looks at how they are used in a photograph to organise and strengthen the composition. The 2 important considerations with lines is

  • the eye follows lines
  • the eye (& mind) tries to construct a line from appropriate suggestions

and the more active the line is, the stronger the encouragement is to follow it, with the mind taking the appropriate suggestions or clues to resolve them as implied lines examples such as:

  • A Row of points
  • An extension of a line or lines, directing the eye ahead of them
  • An extension of visible movement
  • Eye lines

The following exercise is to explore these concepts further.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Still keeping on the theme of lines the idea for this exercise is to take another 4 photographs, but this time using curves to emphasise movement and direction


The exercise required 4 examples, but wherever I can I like to look back at older images and give them the same analysis.


18mm f/19 1/45 sec ISO 100

The slight and simple curve of the London eye shows clearly against the dark sky. Not the best of examples, but I feel the diagonals adds some motion, from left to right, as if it is going to meet the plane trail coming from the right.


55mm f/8 1/350 sec ISO 100

Although the subject matter is static in nature, I feel that the curve draws you around from bottom left to top right. The contrast of the darker ground slabs against the lighter stone of the wall emphasises the line. I also used a square crop on the frame as I felt  it suited the shape of the curve as well as strengthening it within the composition.


41mm f/10 1/60 sec ISO 100

I like the contrast of the dark grass, creating the curved line against the lighter path. I feel that the curve draws the eye up and around the patch of grass.


35mm f/10 1/30 sec ISO 100

Although the curved line of the railing doesn’t have the strength of contrast with the background, I felt that way it follows the diminishing perspective of the steps, creates an almost 3D effect that draws the eye from right to left and up the steps.


55mm f/11 1/250 sec ISO 200

This is an older image that I picked out for the curved path running up to the top of Pen-Y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons. The curve is created by the contrast of the light earth against the darker grass, drawing the eye forward and upwards. There are also 2 diagonals on either side that strengthens the eye movement to the top.

Finally I should also point out the curves that I identified in the earlier exercise Multiple points.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


For this exercise, the idea is to take 4 photographs that use diagonals strongly, the course text suggests that diagonals can be easier to create in photography as they depend a lot on viewpoint, with camera angles and perspective making them more common in photographs.


In preparation to this exercise my mind went back to the exercise on focal lengths and perspective where the converging (diagonal) lines created a sense of depth in the photograph. Carrying on with the theme that a lot of the elements relate and compliment each other I’ve also had a look through other images that I have taken that also show diagonals.


55mm f/22 1/30 sec ISO 100

I know I’ve used these posts before but they were a great example with no distractions in the photo. I used the same set of posts in the vertical line image, and in that there was already a slight linear perspective and triangle due to the height angle, however by taking a step to the left and taking another shot it has emphasised depth (created by the perspective) through the strong diagonal.

To keep the practice of trying different orientations for the images, I also took the same subject from a vertical orientation, which also provided the unplanned side effect of being able able to compare the shots of diagonal lines with the shot I took to demonstrate vertical lines.

So although I noted that diagonals exist in the vertical line image they are considerably stronger where I took the image from a side step.


18mm f/10 1/30 sec ISO 100

The linear perspective is created by the strong diagonal for the tree. The contrast of the dark wood and shadow it creates against the lighter ground highlights the diagonal line. Triangles have also appeared along the diagonal line and sides of the frame.


55mm f/13 1/60 sec ISO 400

This is just the grass line and stones in my garden, The contrast between the dark of the grass against the light stones creates a definitive line that the eye can follow, implying movement and some distance; The placement of the stepping stones also create mini diagonals and zigzags following along the grass line; the diagonal line leads you up the garden path


18mm f/4 1/60 sec ISO 400

The diagonals for the dado rail, banister and the stairs all create diagonals up the stairs towards the door directing the eye up creating movement and direction. The image also creates a triangle shape. I also finds the image a little creepy, film ‘The Shining’ came to mind..

In the interests of experimenting and practicing alternative framing I took the same shot in a vertical orientation, plus I changed the focal length to see how this would effect the perspective.


I like the vertical orientation (18mm shot) as I feel it emphasises the narrowness of the stairs, it also allowed more stairs (also horizontals) into the frame, creating more height. With the 55mm image, taking apart the fact that there is less angle of view, what is interesting is the compression effect on the perspective. You can see this most clearly in the angle of the banister/dado rail (diagonals) against the door (vertical), in the 55mm shot the angle has been compressed and visibly less. 


18mm f/22 3 sec ISO 100

I know the exercise called for only 4 examples but I just liked this image and it fit the subject with the strong contrast of the chips against the white background. I wanted to create a diagonal by showing that even though these lines of chips are parallel to each other, the position and angle can create and strengthen a diagonal so that the lines look like they converge. Also there is a vertical of the darker chips, by changing the position of the camera that also seemingly converges at the top (diminishing perspective); and using wide focal length to emphasise these diagonals.


18mm f/4.8 1/300 sec ISO 80

I always look back at older images in my library and I noticed quite a few that had strong diagonals in them too. This one caught my eye though, it is of Kanchanaburi war Cemetery for the soldiers and military personnel who lost their lives building the the Thailand – Burma railway close to the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’. The diagonals lines are created by the contrast of the grass and the memorials. The diagonals also make up some quite obvious triangles in the overall picture too.

One of the big things I noticed during the exercise was the obvious ‘triangles’ that appear in the images. There is more to follow about triangles and I will no doubt be referring back to to this exercise/post when I get to it.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Horizontal and vertical lines

For this exercise the idea is to take 4 photographs of horizontal lines and 4 photographs of vertical lines; the idea being to find some of the different ways horizontal and vertical lines appear to us and appear through the viewfinder (confined in a frame). Something to note was as far as possible avoid using the same types of subject for the images.


The shots were taken on different locations, dates and times therefore the lighting conditions were different for each. I don’t think I pushed myself on this exercise too much and ended up with relatively obvious images.

At the beginning of the ‘Elements of Design’ section it was suggested to consider using the images in Mono / grey scale for the section; with the idea that without a colour distraction it could focus the attention of the design elements of the picture.


200mm f/5.6 1/250 ISO 100

I took this image of the steps in a close frame as possible, to reduce distractions and really emphasise the  lines.  The mono conversion also added strength from the original colour version; flat light on the stone/sand colour of the steps compared with the contrasted tones of the mono, strengthening the lines of the steps. 


18mm f/5.6 1/500 sec ISO 100

I chose this row of posts just across from Horse Guards Parade in London to demonstrate a row of points that are at a constant distance from the camera; the dark posts contrast against the light parade ground that creates the horizontal line. You may also notice the shade of the trees peak at the same line of posts strengthening the line further by creating a contrast between the bottom half of the frame with the top.

Just for fun; as the line is quite central and static I cropped the image for a more dramatic version.


55mm f/11 1/1000 ISO 400

Ok this is a bit of a cheat as this is an older image (pre-course) however as well as finding new images to fulfil the exercise criteria I always have a look at my ‘library’ of images to see if anything fits too. I could argue that if I had seen the red arrows this month I would have take this shot anyway.. Yeah ok maybe not, but it fit the exercise and I liked it. The contrast of the smoke from the planes against the lighter sky create the horizontal. The placement of the planes (points!) and implied direction along the line creates dynamic movement. I also used a non standard crop again to emphasis the horizontal.


109mm f/4.5 1/180 ISO 200

Trying to keep myself from repeating the types of horizontal lines (Man made) I tried to something a bit more natural and took this for a low tree line. The contrast between the light sky and dark trees create the line and a slight implied movement on the tips of the trees gives a calm blowing in the wind feel to it. I know I can do better, but it fit the exercise.


250mm f/5.6 1/30 sec ISO 100

Not much to say with this one. It is part of a railing, there is contrast of the shiny dark surface against an over blown depth of view that is now just white. It is a vertical line and the crop emphasis it. Again I know I can do better than this.


34mm f/4.5 1/90 sec ISO 100

These are some pillars that are close to Charing Cross station in London. I tool these in a vertical orientation to get the contrast of light shining against the facing surface against the shaded area facing away from the light. I was going to use the shadows for horizontals but the light wasn’t strong enough to create the shadow effect I was looking for. Although I think the strong vertical is what draws the intention there is also a diagonal created by the perspective of the pillars, adding some animation and movement going up from the verticals, and away from the diagonal perspective.


55mm f/5.6 1/90 sec ISO 100

I used a non-standard crop on this tree giving it a greater feeling of height. The edge of the frame, parallel to the tree ensures that the vertical is correct in our mind and the light bark contrasts with the darker bushes behind.


55mm f/22 1/6 sec ISO 100

Now I know I used the posts before by Horse Guards parade in London, but this was for the vertical line. However I found this an interesting one because although the light tips of the posts create a vertical line the perspective of the image also creates diagonal lines through the diminishing perspective, and in turn this perspective also creates a implied triangle. I still think the vertical holds it’s own as the dominant design element you can still see other elements with in the same simple image. If I had more height and the angle of the camera was pointed downwards more the diagonals would have less impact.

Horizontal & Vertical

42mm f10 1/45 sec ISO 100

This memorial is opposite the Horse Guards parade posts and It gave me an interesting image as far as the exercise goes. Firstly each soldier in the row is the same height and distance to the camera (creating a horizontal), strengthened by the ledge behind the soldiers heads and a close horizontal crop. However the vertical lines of the standing solders creates parallel verticals. In the end I think that the verticals have the dominance over horizontals because of the strong contrast of the black on the white.  There is also a certain of rhythm  to the alternating tones along the horizontal orientation.