Take 4 photographs using curves to emphasise movement and direction.


Again, my 2 main references for this exercise were Freeman (2007: 80-81) and Prakel (2012: 46-47).  I think it is commonly accepted that curves are dominant in the natural world, indeed we have only to look at the human form to see the predominance of this characteristic.  The double curve (S), or line of beauty, was postulated by the artist William Hogarth in 1753 in his book The Analysis of Beauty and, invariably where used in an image, portrays gentleness, gracefulness and elegance thus having different qualities to straight lines.  I found many examples on the internet through the usual Google search but it seemed to me that the challenge lay in the requirement to make it obvious that the image is about curves and to emphasise movement and direction.


As I thought, finding images that convey movement and direction did test me.  A number of times I contemplated a scene asking myself the question “just how does this emphasise movement and direction?”.  It would seem to me that if there is obvious movement there will be direction, but can you have a curve which has direction but does not emphasise movement?  Again I chose to record my images in both colour and B+W.

I composed this shot so that the meandering path, whilst depicting curves (not quite “a line of beauty” methinks) also acts as a leading line and, as such, conveys movement from bottom left of the frame through the centre of the image in the direction of Derwent Water in the distance.  Had it been any other day the movement would have been emphasised by the water flowing down it!  I think the curve of the fells on either side of the path add to the image giving what otherwise is quite a harsh environment a much softer feel and creates the feeling of a place of tranquility.

Well I think it is a thing of beauty!  I was in two minds as to whether to take this shot with or without the water flowing.  In my mind the curve of the tap is graceful and with the inclusion of the handles in the shot, which suggest where the water enters the device, and the water gushing from the spout the image is complete emphasising both the movement and direction of flow of the water.  Actually capturing this image took me many attempts.  I used a black backing board to make the tap stand out and eliminate the existing background which has very high contrast.  The challenge was to get sufficient depth of field so that the whole tap was in focus in a suitable orientation and capture the flow of water using an appropriate shutter speed.  I did also experiment with flash but I found the result too harsh for my liking.

A somewhat unusual image I thought.  It is actually the inside of a marquee looking up towards the central support point/ventilation port.  The composition, I believe, draws the eye from left to right, the natural flow of the eye in my world.  This too proved an exposure challenge due to the lighting inside the marquee and I drew many looks from members of the audience as I prostrated myself on the ground, stood up, sat down and so forth!  I believe this unusual image does portray direction by way of the composition and movement by having the apex on the right and creating, in effect, a funnel; whether it empathises the two characteristics is a matter of opinion.

The swan’s neck, a fine example of the line of beauty!  Having sat in the rain for some time and taking many shots (who said don’t work with children and animals) I was just packing up as the light was fading fast and the next batch of black clouds rushing in from the Bristol Channel when this one started something akin to a torpedo run towards me.  A few rapid fire shots later, hence the technical flaws.  Reviewing it on the big screen, however, suggested to me that it had all the attributes called for in the brief; not only the body curves but the bow wave ahead of it.  OK it’s not perfect but it does it for me and better to have the picture than not, in my humble opinion, as it also has the juxtaposition of the beauty of the swan in something of an aggressive mood and posture.


As I predicted, it was finding the images for curves that emphasised movement and direction that challenged me from a composition perspective.  I am still not completely comfortable with the interpretation of some images I have seen as examples and I would contend that one in the manual (the soldiers either side of the tree) is far too “deep” for this stage of the course.  Clearly I need to analyse a lot more images to get a better handle on this concept.  Overall I enjoyed the exercise as it did move me out of my comfort zone and some of the images I shot I found technically challenging. Comparing the images in terms of colour and B+W; I think for this exercise, in all cases, the B+W images provide a better result in emphasising the curves; particularly for me where the technical results for some of the colour shots were short of the mark.

Reference List:

Freeman, M. (2007) The photographer’s eye: composition and design for better digital photos. Lewes: The Ilex Press Limited

Google. (2013) Images.  Available from: [Accessed 20 September 2013]

Prakel, D. (2012) Basics photography 01: composition. Second edition. Lausanne. AVA Publishing SA