First attempt at single point images
The three main elements of composition of an image are the point, line and frame. In this exercise I will be looking at the point to understand it’s impact on a composition and how its location leads to the success or failure of an image. Harold Evans, ex-picture editor of the Sunday TImes believed that “.. in photography, the idea needs to be service by technique.” In contrast American photographer Edward Weston likened photographic technique to the laws of gravity suggesting perhaps that good technique is simply a law of nature and not something to be learned. So will I learn where to place the point or automatically select one as I compose my image?
Here are my first three images using a point, which should be small in relationship to the frame. In my three images the point is a plastic bag waste bin in my local train station. I have placed if off centre, centrally and towards the edge of the frame.
Having reviewed the image I believe possibly my “point” is too large and instead perhaps represents a shape. And looking at those students comparing the impact of their points in either colour or black and white it seems to me that the point must be very obvious and stand out – if it is muted and needs black and white to emphasise it perhaps it isn’t clearly a point. In my images above, apart from being I think too large, I also think the translucency weakens the point too so I shall retake 3 more images using a smaller object and seek strength in my point so that it works effectively in either colour or monochrome.
Second attempt at single point images
This time I have gone out with the intention of identifying smaller more defined “points” and rather than just choose an identical point and moving it around the frame I have tried a different approach with each one. Here are the 5 images.
In image 1 the point is the little blue sign near the top right of the frame. It doesn’t work too well because of the dominant blue of the bus and the position in the frame.
In image 2 the point is central and is the only blue thing in frame and so leads the eye to the centre of the frame and works better than image 1 though it’s a pretty dull image.
Image 3 uses a similar frame to image 1 but the contrasting yellow of the bus balances nicely with the blue of the point. The framing isn’t ideal though.
For image 4 I isolated a single colourful curly leaf. To make it stand out as a point, it is set in a grey abstract linear image of straight lines. I think this works much better and also, the point could work in a range of different places but balances well nearer the edge of the frame.
In image 5 I have used selective focus to make the tiny flower the point against an out of focus wall and again I think this technique works.
I did try converting some of these images to monochrome but didn’t feel this added to the effectiveness of the point, in fact in image 4 it reduced the impact as the colour which lifts the leaf from the grey tones of the road was lost.
Multiple points in relation to the frame
Now seeking to place a number of points in the frame and taking onboard the encouragement to take real and not test pictures here are the results of looking for points and trying them in different parts of the frame.
Looking at each image in turn
This first image has the first point (a triangular roof detail) at the very edge of the top of the frame – the eye quickly moves to the top of the triangular lodge gate and then again down towards the triangular shape at the top of the path. The eye looks for another triangular point and not finding one returns to the first point.
In this second simpler graphic image the eye is drawn to the human feet in an otherwise grey landscape and the arrow immediately to the right draws the eye straight to the drain grate and then circulates around to the curved paved area – as I write this I realise that my eye then does go up to the straight line of the kerbstones as well! There is a geometric linkage again triangular.
My final image shows me that a human point speaks to the mind quickly The central face, perhaps because more face is visible draws my eye and quickly links to the closer bald head – however this then routes back to the out of focus parking attendant in the background I think because the points relate to each other along a straight line.
My first image from a newspaper or magazine is a photograph of Bruce Lee during a fight courtesy of Martial Arts Illustrated (1)
In this image there are many points namely the heads of the monks which echo the shape of the upended fighter and the chin of Bruce Lee
My second selected image is courtesy of Fuji X Passion (2)
This simple image links the twos star/starburst points within the scene.
My final image is courtesy of Hungry Eye (3)
This powerful portrait by Tom Hoops uses bright white points to balance the image.
My take away from this exercise is that the sorts of striking images that appeal and are successful, at least to my eyes, often make use of fewer strongly linked points rather than a plethora of confusing ones.
- Image of Bruce Lee in combat, photographer not credited, Martial Arts Ilustrated, August 2017 issue, page 74.
- Photographer Daniel Malikyar, Fuji X Passion magazine, Volume III, page 95
- Photographer Tom Hoops, Hungry Eye magazine, Issue 24, page 77
- Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.22