A sequence of composition

My interpretation of this exercise is that it is all about the path to composing “the shot” without actually knowing what the subject you are after actually is.  Along that path there will be many “not quites” but at some time, hopefully, there will be that eureka moment.  I have to say I launched into this task with some concerns; it’s one thing taking pictures of public parades, tourist areas etc but another when you are photographing people going about there everyday business.  Intrusion, invasion and paparazzi were some words that sprung to mind!  However, mindful of a number of articles that appeared in the media over the years and that I was confident as regards the law on this area I set off to Bristol Market which, on a Wednesday, also hosts a Farmers Market.

I planned to walk around for a while to get a feeling for what was going on and select strategic positions for taking some shots, others as the opportunity arose.  I had no idea what I was really after, I just thought that there would be interesting people and probably some stalls that would inspire.  Should I encounter any hostility I determined that I would deal with it as and when.

DSC_5315 - 1/80 sec at f8, ISO 400, 70mm

DSC_5315 – 1/80 sec at f8, ISO 400, 70mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just getting a feel for  photographing the stalls.  First observation, people will enter the frame at will!  I felt very self conscious with my eye glued to the viewfinder scanning the scene.  Also if you have a heavy lens camera set up you soon begin to experience camera shake.  Need to think about using a different lens for such exercises.  This was a fairly constrained view so decided to move to a wider perspective with the ability to zoom in on any interesting subjects.

DSC_5316 - 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 500, 24mm

DSC_5316 – 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 500, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little more variety here in terms of stalls.  The only thing that caught my eye was the plants in pots stacked on the upturned crates, colour and geometrical shapes.  There may be potential at the cheese counter so decided to get a clearer view.

DSC_5317 - 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5317 – 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No sign of Wallace and Gromit so move on!

DSC_5318 - 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5318 – 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initially attracted by the arrangement of the soup pots on display and the form of the pies in the boxes but decided to move on.

DSC_5319 - 1/200 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5319 – 1/200 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish stalls usually have interesting displays but this one did not have anything special; noticed there was another fish stall opposite so thought I would try that.

DSC_5320 - 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 35mm

DSC_5320 – 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 35mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit more of an interesting display but not sure it is truly eye catching.

DSC_5321 - 1/100 at f8, ISO 800, 35mm

DSC_5321 – 1/100 at f8, ISO 800, 35mm

DSC_5322 - 1/125 at f8, ISO 800, 62mm

DSC_5322 – 1/125 at f8, ISO 800, 62mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you love it when the subject closes their eyes as you hit the shutter button!  Move on.

DSC_5323 - 1/200 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

DSC_5323 – 1/200 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the corner of my eye spotted the long arm of the law approaching!  Thought turned to the experiences of street photographers so thought I’d test the situation.

DSC_5324 - 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 800, 56mm

DSC_5324 – 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 800, 56mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well no adverse reaction but no friendly engagement either, the look says it all!  Pity, quite a striking subject.

DSC_5325 - 1/500 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

DSC_5325 – 1/500 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showing a clean pair of hooves so this is going no further.  Back to the market.

DSC_5326 - 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 29mm

DSC_5326 – 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 29mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picked out this bread stall due to the arrangement of many different shapes and sizes of bread on offer.  However, I thought the glass screen was a distraction and it was not possible to get a clear shot for the composition I had in mind.

DSC_5327 - 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 40mm

DSC_5327 – 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 40mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While surveying this scene through the viefinder considered whether a sequence of a shopper browsing through to deciding to purchase might provide something interesting.  This guy walked on by.

DSC_5328 - 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 38mm

DSC_5328 – 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 38mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the arrangement of the vegetables that caught my eye in this scene, in particular the carrots. Just after I had taken this shot the stallholder approached me and asked what I was doing; up to this point I had only had glances from stallholders.  We had a friendly discussion and it transpired he and his wife had been asked to pose for a photograph at the market a few months before and they had ended up in a massive poster on the side of one of the Bristol Harbour sheds, he was not happy about that.  We parted amicably and I moved on.

DSC_5329 - 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5329 – 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took this shot as this guy walked into frame, it was the look on his face, bad news(?), and the bright blue phone glued to his ear which seemed at odds with the character.

DSC_5330 - 1/160 sec at f8,  ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5330 – 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just people watching.

DSC_5331 - 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 32mm

DSC_5331 – 1/125 sec at f8, ISO 800, 32mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The directions to move on were clear!

DSC_5332 - 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 52mm

DSC_5332 – 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 52mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the covered area of the market dominated by a multitude of food stalls of various nationalities  popular at lunchtime for local office workers and those in the know.  I picked up on a group that had descended on one stall and were going through that ritual of “what are you having?”.  Despite watching for  few minutes I was not able to get a shot which included their faces which i thought would tell a story.

DSC_5333 - 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 52mm

DSC_5333 – 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 52mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took this shot as I was attracted by two things; the arrangement and colours of the fruit and wheatgrass and by the juxtaposition of the health juice stall offering therapy and “pieminster” which, I guess, offers a different type of therapy; where were all the punters going! I then decided to explore a composition of the fruit on the juice stall.

DSC_5334 - 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

DSC_5334 – 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 70mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, interesting but not grabbing.

DSC_5335 - 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5335 – 1/60 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moved to another part of the market, flower stall might provide something of note; I could not see anything of note.  It was now getting busy, not easy doing the eye to viewfinder routine without risking a black eye.  Move back outside.

DSC_5336 - 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5336 – 1/100 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the open air.  This was in the overflow area.  I had spotted a very colourful stall in this group which I decided to home in on.

DSC_5337 - 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

DSC_5337 – 1/160 sec at f8, ISO 800, 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the way those people are eyeing that stall.

DSC_5338 - 1/250 sec at f8, ISO 800, 34mm

DSC_5338 – 1/250 sec at f8, ISO 800, 34mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bingo!  I had found my target.  To me this sums up the essence of the Farmer’s Market.  Whilst i would have liked to have had more time composing shots of this subject I was at the mercy of the customers, many of whom had kindly stood back to allow me a couple of shots.   Note, on this occasion I asked the stallholder’s permission.

I did not find this an easy task, essentially going out not knowing exactly what I was after, yet doing a specific exercise.  Also, as mentioned above, I had some reservations about undertaking what I understand to be street photography and any potential difficulties with the subjects selected.  I think this held me back a bit and perhaps bolder approach would have been beneficial.  It has certainly made me think about how to interact with people in such situations and I found the article on the BBC website, Religion and Ethics, “Q&A: The ethics of street photography”, an interview with Eric Kim a street photographer based in Los Angeles, quite interesting; a lot depends on the culture you are dealing with.

Some other thoughts on this experience.  The practice of spending much time with eye to viewfinder is somewhat alien to me, notwithstanding it is the best way of confirming the scene; perhaps I was taking this too literally although I have heard of people walking about with a cardboard frame to view potential scenes.  I kept thinking that while I was looking in one area something better might be going on elsewhere.  Also I detected a lack of creative juices in selecting a subject to home in on yet I have done this successfully on landscapes.  In this case there was a lot going on around, particularly in the covered market, and I felt a distinct challenge between capturing the moment and composition; this was heightened by the constant thought of it is better to crop in camera than during post processing.  Looking back at my shots I also wonder about my camera settings; once I got going I gave little thought to changing settings.  Finally, the weight of the camera equipment; a long period spent in the firing position really makes you think about the weight of your kit, especially as I had gone out for the day with other tasks in mind and was carrying a fair load.

In conclusion, did I achieve the aim of the exercise?  Well I ended up with a final image which I think was a successful conclusion to a journey that took many twists and turns and a good deal of time; that final shot could have done with further work.  With a shot in the can and much to think about so, overall, yes.

Reference List;

BBC Religion & Ethics. Q&A: The ethics of street photography.  Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/21532400 [Accessed 26 March 2013]

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Object in different positions in the frame

Having considered the options, for the purposes of this exercise I chose to use an inanimate subject and placed it within a setting I considered to be appropriate relative to its size.  With the subject and background in mind my first composition was with the subject centred in the frame, it just seemed the natural thing to do, hit the “bull’s eye”, the beginners default!

This first shot with the subject centred covers both my initial exposure that came naturally and the deliberately centred composition.  So why did I do this, why did I default to this setting?  Both Freeman (2007) and Prakel (2006) postulate that it is a natural reaction; thinking back to when I first started taking photographs this was my default setting and I guess it probably still is when on walkabout and faced with a quick shot or nothing.  However, in this instance I feel that the subject is worthy of being framed by the free space around it as I look beyond its current state to when the natural light drops off and this solar light casts a glow on all around it.  Also I feel the geometric shape and smoothness of the subject sits well surrounded by the disorder, colour and texture of the grass.  I can see nothing pleasing as the subject is displaced off-centre in each successive shot; in fact that the further off-centre it moves the less I like it.  At this point I begin to contemplate the word “tension”, not something I have associated with photographs before but it has come up in my reading of both Freeman (2007) and Prakel (2006); I am now asking myself whether by moving the subject off-centre I am creating tension.  Clearly I need to do some further reading on this idea and gain a better understanding.

In the final analysis I feel the centred image works for me with both the subject and background sitting together well.  Had it been a different subject I feel I may well have had a different view, it is very much horses for courses.

Reference List:

Freeman, Michael, (2007).  The Photographers Eye:  Comosition and Design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press

Prakel, D. (2006). Basics Photography 01: composition. Second edition. Lausanne. AVA Publishing

Fitting the frame to the subject

For this exercise I was able to use one of the subjects I had previously noted as a possibility so good advice to keep a note of “possibles”; without reading ahead in the coursework you never know what scenes/subjects you will need.  In the event my subject, the At-Bristol Planetarium, posed a challenge as regards fitting the frame tightly despite adopting a variety of shooting positions, with some embarrassment as there were several bus loads of children in the vicinity on a school outing!

DSC_5278 - 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 200, 24mm

DSC_5278 – 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 200, 24mm

For the baseline shot I opted for landscape format which shows something of the setting; not particularly inspiring apart from the sphere itself with the reflections and shows its size relative to people.  My aim was to make it the dominant feature in the scene but, as per the requirement, little time was taken in composing the shot.

DSC_5279 - 1/80 sec at f16, ISO 200, 31mm

DSC_5279 – 1/80 sec at f16, ISO 200, 31mm

 

As I alluded to above, for me following the brief for this shot was something of a challenge ( a sphere into a rectangle!), but it was self inflicted.  Whether I have met the brief is, I guess, open to debate. For me the question being asked here is whether the subject in itself is interesting enough to fill the entire image.  The result is a bit of a curates egg;  I find the space left around the sphere distracting but the construction and reflections do provide interest.  Probably waiting for “that moment” to catch some interesting reflections would enhance the image.

DSC_5282 - 1/40 sec at f16, ISO 200, 70mm

DSC_5282 – 1/40 sec at f16, ISO 200, 70mm

 

 

 

The next shot, close in so no edges are visible, just part of it.  What is the purpose of this view? I took a number of shots as I contemplated the question.  I chose to go for the reflective property of the sphere and thought the image of the photographer taking the picture conveyed something of the nature of the subject.  On reflection I wonder whether a shot of the entrance with people climbing the steps to get in would say more about the subject i.e. it is not only a big reflective surface but it has a further purpose.

DSC_5343 - 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 200, 24mm

DSC_5343 – 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 200, 24mm

For the final shot I decided to move well away from the subject, in fact the other side of the harbour.  I felt this was the best way to really stress the surroundings as here we have a somewhat futuristic subject that sits in a city landscape of eclectic architecture.  However, I wrangled with the expanse of sky and water.  In this shot the sphere still draws my eye even though it occupies only a small part of the frame as it is so different from its surroundings.  Despite this I think the surroundings also draw attention as there is such variety contained therein.

In comparing these shots with the examples given I seem to be at odds with the composition of the final photograph in that my proportion differs considerably.  However, since the brief calls for the subject to fill just a quarter of the frame or less  my shot meets the criteria and, I would argue, stresses the subject’s surroundings.

Looking for alternative possibilities I cropped the final photograph 3 ways.  My thinking was to reduce the sky and water space, particularly the sky which I think is real empty space, but retaining enough of the water to set the scene of the harbour.

DSC_5343-2  1/100 sec at f16, ISO 320, 24mm

DSC_5343-2 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 320, 24mm

For the first crop I decided to try a square (ish) format, not a format I have favoured in the past.  The subject is placed in its immediate surroundings and the variety of buildings is depicted.  There still remains too much sky for my liking and I don’t think there is enough of the harbour to give a true sense of the setting.

DSC_5343-3  1/100 sec at f16, ISO 320, 24mm

DSC_5343-3 1/100 sec at f16, ISO 320, 24mm

 

 

 

For the second alternative I returned to a more traditional landscape format concentrating on reducing the sky and water but increasing the urban landscape content to give more of a sense of the overall area the subject is positioned in.  for me this works better than the previous crop but I feel there is not enough of the harbour showing.

DSC_5343-4My final crop builds on the previous one.  Here we have a good reduction of the dead sky space but a good impression of the overall scene the subject is set in.  This is my preferred result.