Take nothing but pictures
Leave nothing but footprints

Exercise 6: Fitting the frame to the subject

To photograph the same subject at least for times, framing the subject in a different way for each shot.

I’m lucky enough to work in a lovely part of London, Marylebone Village. One of the nicest parts of the ‘village’ is Paddington Street Gardens – a former burial ground that in 1885 became a public garden after passing into municipal control – and which is now an oasis of green calm in the heart of London.

The subject for the pictures taken for this exercise is a modern ornamental sculpture in the gardens. It’s always caught my eye as I walk through the gardens, particularly one view which is the last of the series.

The photographs were taken with my ‘walk around’ camera – the Canon G10.

Picture One

The first photograph taken was taken, as instructed, without too much thought for composition. It gives and idea of the scale of the ornament and its context in the gardens. While at the time I didn’t think too much about the composition the sweep of the path from left to right adds some dynamism and balance to the picture.

6.1: The ornament in the gardens

Picture Two

The second image is reframed to show the ornament fitting the frame completely. In this case the composition does little for me personally – it shows the structure of the ornament but the loss of context detracts from the image.

6.2: Subject filling the frame

Picture Three

Closing right in for the third picture was interesting and allowed plenty of scope for selecting a more artistic shot. I actually took about six different shots from various angles – all with the black ball in the centre of the ornament key to the composition. I’ve ‘cheated’ on this one as I couldn’t decide which I preferred so I’ve included two pictures.

The close up pictures give no indication to actual subject itself.  The visual clues indicate that the subject is some form of ornament without the context of the wider shots it would be (nearly) impossible to guess what the structure itself is. In this way they become intriguing – inviting curiosity.

6.3a: Using elements of the outer globe to frame the ball at the front and the rear.

6.3b: Closing in even more and reducing depth of field allowed me to create an even more abstract image.

Picture Four

For the final shot the course notes request moving much further back so the subject only occupies a small part of the frame and use a composition that stresses the surroundings and context of the subject.

It was when I read this part of ‘the brief’ that I absolutely knew what I would photograph for this exercise. As I enter the park taking my normal route, the sculpture is framed between a gap in the tree branches.  I’ve often looked at this with a view to seeing how a picture might look so the exercise gave me the perfect excuse to move from wondering to seeing.

6.4: The sculpture framed by tree branches

Conclusions drawn from this exercise

Selecting the right composition for a subject is important to both the meaning and understanding of the photograph.

The wider shots in this selection give context and show the sculpture as part of the overall scene.

Conversely, the close-up photographs of this particular subject remove the context completely and become almost abstract. What is important is the composition and framing of the object only – not how it fits into its surroundings.

Preferred picture

Going into the shoot I’d pre-supposed that my favourite picture would be the last – the sculpture framed in the tree branches. On balance it still just remains so – but that in part is probably due to how the picture reminds me of the feeling I get when entering this little patch of calm in the bustling city.

A close run second (and third) are the two close up photos – the abstract nature and the way I was able to re-frame and show different aspects of the same subject.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 06:21 and is filed under 02. The Frame, OCA Learning Log, TAOP Exercises, The Art of Photography. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.