Really looking forward to this one. Here’s the brief:
Unfortunately, I haven’t got a true wide angle for this project. I dabbled with the idea of hiring one…just not worth it in this part of the world, so I ended up using the kit lens: a 14-42mm, f/3,5-5,6, (eq. a 28-84mm), which for this task would have to do (and in all fairness does a decent job of emphasizing lines).
I was hoping to experiment here with this one; hoping to move away from the obvious street/building/road shots. My first basic ideas were binders, bookshelves, holes, curtains, and I was looking to use a macro technique here with a shallow depth of focus. Harder to do with the 14-42 compared to my wide aperture primes, but, surprizingly, the lens performs well with close-ups giving a pleasant blur and a fine sense of depth.
Here are the first few shots (taken indoors) which have been run through Lightroom to reduce the resolution for the brief – or rather – this site (although some of them can be clicked through to Flickr for a larger size if need be).
I was slightly disappointed with the curtain shot; I was hoping those lines would eccentuate the feeling of depth. I don’t feel that they do. This could be due to the fact that there are no other details with which to contextualise the curtains; or as Freeman puts it when talking about ways of strengthening perspective: “…include familiar-sized objects at different distances to give recognizable scale.” (Freeman, 2007, pp52-4).
Or possibly the lens’ f/3,5 aperture restricting the DoF here. Although, saying that, wouldn’t that mean that we would then lose too much background detail and the whole line idea of these shots would have been lost? I’m not sure. Could also be that it’s just not meant to be curtains!
The table shot demonstrates a much shallower DoF, and I quite like the way the strong diagonal slices accross the frame (although not really taking us anywhere as we can assume that the table isn’t infinite?).
Perhaps I should have put some objects on the table?
I thought the 28mm Eq lens might work well with the lines on this bookcase. Again, I don’t really think they lead anyhwhere here, although it is quite a dramatic effect. Would seriously love to try this again with a 24, or 22mm lens…(Yeah, maybe one day).
Ok, I had been stubborn, wanted to give it a go inside and not really felt overly satisfied with the results so I finally ended up outside.
I took the 14-42, and the 40-150 (80-300mm Eq), the later to hopefully preempt exercise 1.3 (2) Line, where we have to ‘flatten’ lines to create a more abstract composition/effect. Didn’t use it in the end, but always good to be prepared.
Here are the results:
A classic, clichéd view even, although effective: the converging lines here are perfect at drawing us into the distance, into the heart of the vanishing point. In fact, I find it almost impossible to not follow those lines to the scene beyond the vines themselves, and into the green field in the background. Why is that? Why do we feel compelled to do that? Freeman (again!) refers to these lines as having unresolved tension (Freeman, 2007, p76), and I find it fascinating what he says about how “…diagonals introduce the most dynamism into a picture.”, and how diagonals “…appear as a result of the viewpoint – oblique views of horizontal or verticle lines.”; and finally, how “…an implied shape tends to strengthen a composition.” (Freeman, 2007 p38-9), which we can appreciate with the vineyard shot which is full of shapes, primarily triangles. With the last quote from Freeman here, he was talking about the Gestalt Laws and Principles – The Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization, which probably needs further reading.
They certainly add so much to a shot. I have frivolously flirted with them for years, and only now am I beginning to really see what they are, and why they work. Truly beautiful. I think I’d be quite happy doing a course on diagonals and nothing else!
These lines also draw us in, as with the vineyard shot above. The roof as it meets the walls particularly works for me: a really strong sense of movement. I can’t quite decide if it pulls in, or pushes out: imploding or exploding? The more I look at those lines the more they seem to flip, not quite like a Necker cube, but fascinating nonetheless!
Yes, OK, I finally cracked and took some shots of a road. I had said that I wasn’t going to do that, but this view caught my eye whilst driving and I believe it works well again with convergence and a strong diagonal leading us once more towards the horizon. Surely there’s a reason why so many people take these kinds of shots and maybe that is simply because they work so well. I don’t think I should be afraid of cliché, or of playing it safe, should I? I mean, if it works, and as long as we don’t continually, religiously use bog-standard shots and actually experiment with fresh ideas, then it can’t be a totally bad thing to do, can it?
I played around with this shot (in terms of placement) and liked the square crop on the right here. I think the off centeredness [I made that up] of the line beckoning us into the distance works better than the more central placement with the non-cropped version (remnants of Ex. 1.2 Point here!)
This convergence, the ‘unresolved tension’ and sheer dynamics of diagonals is something that I find mesmerizing, intoxicating even. The prospect of (finally) learning more about them and what they do, is, at the time of writing, one of the most interesting things I can think of doing with my time.
Freeman, M, The Photographer’s Eye – Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos, Focal Press, 2007.