Connect with me on Google+

Sunday, 6 June 2010


The idea behind this assignment is to incorporate what has been learnt so far into a set of photographs directed towards one type of subject showing a number of design element effects; The subject I chose was food.

Single Point dominating the composition




1/125 sec

ISO 100

For this photograph I used the contrast between a (whole) green olive against a background of sliced black olives. The black olives create a dark even background and although there are a few highlighted areas from the light source, I don’t believe they distract from the ‘point’. I feel that they create more interest and a context (as well as textures and more dimensions) to the photograph as a whole.

The point is positioned more or less around a rule of thirds placement within the frame, away from the centre to avoid being overly static and not so close to the edge to be too extreme and creating a tension to the balance.

I deliberated for some time whether to have the cocktail stick or not, but in the end left it in. I felt that although in the green olive hold its own as a point, the diagonal catches the eye and strengthens the draw to the point. From a subjective point of view I felt it added a bit of mystery as the stick continues out of the frame.

I used an off-camera flash to light the scene fairly close to the same height of the layer of olives, with the direction coming from the top left of the frame. I had already decided to use a flash for all of the assignment, but not only that I struggled to replicate the same texture details with natural light for this particular photograph.

Two points


23mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

I feel that the egg that is close to the bottom of the frame and towards the right side has the greater dominance. The eggcup and egg that is placed centre left has more interest (the toast, top of egg and the shine from the metal cup) than the more dominant point; however has less highlight mass and thereby less contrasted against the background than the lower right egg.

I find my eye is drawn direct to this lower right egg first almost immediately, but then the eye moves between the two along the implied diagonal that is created between them, adding more dynamics to the composition.

Just for information, the eggs in this photograph were from a friend who owns their own chickens.

Several points in a deliberate shape


18mm f/22 1/125 sec ISO 100

The photograph scene is on my kitchen worktop. The idea being, a paper bag with potatoes had tipped over and spilt them along the worktop, making the shape(s) up from the individual potatoes (points). I thought back to the exercise where I sketched in lines and shapes and I can see many similar elements within this photograph, I found myself applying combinations of implied triangles by linking any 3 of the potatoes as points.

However what strikes me the most is an implied curve, starting at the small potato in the top right and then sweeping left then down and eventually round and back up towards the right, creating a flow and movement within the frame.

To light the scene I used an off-camera flash; as the worktop is quite reflective I bounced the light onto some cupboards above the worktop to soften and diffuse the light in order to avoid highlight reflections on the worktop and cause distractions.

A Combination of vertical and horizontal lines


18mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

A simple design structure made up from asparagus. The highlighted verticals and horizontals contrast against the dark background. I feel though that the photograph is mainly static in composition, but I think there is a little movement for the eye from the bottom of the frame moving up to the tips and fading into the blackness. This is also aided by the portrait orientation of the frame and the natural tendency to place the subject in the lower portion.

The photograph has been lit with off-camera flash, with the direction coming from the bottom of the frame.



23mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

In the during the exercises in the course material (see learning log) section on diagonals, I noticed that in my examples all the lines were all strengthened / created by the use of linear perspective. However for the assignment example I wanted to try something a bit different and create the lines without the sense of depth (from the linear perspective), so I got my wife to help create this cross of diagonal lines, creating an ‘X’ shape in the centre of the frame by splitting a bread roll. I chose a square crop to enclose and add emphasis to the contrasted angle of the diagonals.

Along with the ‘X’ you get real triangles further strengthening the structure of the image.


Ice Cream

55mm f/22 1/125 sec ISO 100

I feel that the curved bowl enclosed and frames the circular shaped ice cream placed at the centre, drawing the eyes to the ice cream as well as being strengthened by its central placement within the frame. The pouring jug; also curved in shape and tipped with a tiny drop of chocolate sauce about to drip from the spout, implying movement, again towards the ice cream below.

Then finally, the curve of chocolate sauce running down the sides of the ice cream which I feel is adding to the sense of smoothness over the cool ice cream.

The scene was lit with off-camera flash directed from the left side of the frame to create more texture to the ice cream.

Distinct shape


27mm f/16 1/125 sec 100

I chose to use the distinctive shape of a banana for this subject. I used a flash behind and slightly below the banana, (held up by my daughter). The backlight created the separation and contrast of the silhouetted banana from the background. Although centred in composition a curved ‘S’ shape is identifiable giving the photograph some movement. The vertical orientation of the frame also suited the subject shape. I don’t think this would be as effective in a horizontal though.

Implied triangle - 1

Green Apple

23mm f/22 1/125 sec ISO 100

Implied triangle(s) created using this still life of 3 apples on a reflective surface with the point towards the bottom of the frame. This started off as a little experiment with perspective, but I noticed the reflections and decided to incorporate them into the triangle. The perspective added ‘weight’ to the bottom apple making this the more dominant point and having this towards the bottom of the vertical orientation of the frame further emphasised the point of the triangle that I wanted the eye to be directed to.

Implied Triangle – 2

Red Apple

35mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

For the implied triangles I have opted to include an additional photograph where the emphasis was towards the top of the 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 flash, also created 3 points of a triangle within the darker apple skin.

Rhythm - 1


55mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

If you weren’t sure what you were looking at; it’s a pineapple. Each of the sections within the skin created a diagonal pattern across the frame which has a natural beat to each ‘section’ that keeps the eye moving across it diagonally. Which I feel is strongest from left to right.

I kept the light source (off camera flash again) in line with the surface of the skin as I felt this gave it the most texture in the photograph.

Rhythm – 2


55mm f/16 1/125 sec ISO 100

I wanted to take something less obvious as a pattern, but still have a strong rhythm to it; I took this photograph of the same pineapple, but this time of the leaves/head. The contrast between the highlighted tips of the leaves with the darker side of the leaves and black background create the ‘beat’ again diagonally through the frame. I also feel that this particular perspective and orientation of the frame adds the to left-to-right movement of the eyes.



51mm f/22 1/125 sec ISO 100

A bowl of Strawberries; I kept a close crop on them in the frame having them go beyond the confines of the frame, (using the 51mm focal length as close as I could to the subject) this was to add to the appearance of them filling the space beyond with this continuing albeit irregular pattern.

Course Thoughts

The idea behind this assignment is to incorporate what has been learnt so far into a set of photographs directed towards one type of subject. The subject I chose was food.

The course text also suggested considering converting the photographs into Mono/grey scale for this part of the course; the idea being that without a colour distraction, the photograph would focus attention on the ‘design element’ and with that in mind I decided that I would complete the whole section this way, both the exercises and the assignment. Along with making all the assignment photographs mono and keeping a theme of food, I took this a step further and decided to make all the photographs as still life and use a flash to light the scene in each case.

In the first assignment I was worried that my tendency towards staged/still life would somehow restrict my development but along with a few comments from my tutor in the previous assignment, along with my own thoughts, I realised that at the end of the day, one of the reasons I started this course is because I ‘enjoy’ taking photographs and creating something that can be shared. Now why would I restrict myself from an area of photography that I really enjoy? Well I wouldn’t. Even so, a lot of the exercise photographs were ‘found’ and besides there is a long way to go on the course and plenty of time to explore many other areas. Therefore I made a decision (right or wrong) and stuck with a still-life set through the assignment. I hope that it paid off. And if not, well then I’ve leant even more!

I did enjoy the ‘elements of design’ section, maybe not as much as the first stages, but I think that perhaps this was because looking at ‘design’ principles is a new one to me and my photography. I started to notice similarities between different elements too, for example, where there are diagonals there is often triangles and where there are circles there are curves and so on. However this also reminded me to keep a sense of proportion about this section; it’s about learning and improving technique and being aware of how these elements can enhance the composition and importantly, the subject of the photograph.

That said I feel I’ve learnt a lot of new concepts and hopefully with a better equipped knowledge of this area.

From the first assignment I set down a few themes to consider going forward and I hope to continue with them as I continue to practise what I have learnt so far and hope to learn further.

An area that I had hoped to have explored more was that of other photographers and different styles of photography and although I was lucky enough to attend some presentations by some modern professional photographers, I still feel I should give a bit more attention to this area going forward.


Feedback coming soon….

1 comment:

  1. You have a fantastic set of images here, well done :)