Part 1

Exercise 1.4

These pictures were composed through the viewfinder of my DSLR which has the ability to split the screen in 9 sections. I have used either one of the sections to composed the pictures, or a group of these sections. The camera was set to programme and auto-ISO, so it took its own exposure decisions, but the lenses were focused manually (all of them manual lenses). Here is the final selection.

The top 2 pictures were taken using the bottom right hand side of the frame for composition, while the remaining 4 were shot using the central sections of the viewfinder. All the pictures include elements that I would normally crop out or leave out of the frame. In some cases these elements work out unexpectedly well with the main subject of the image, creating some counterbalance or providing context, like the lamp in the top left picture (main subject was woman walking between columns) or the wings of the building on the last picture on the bottom right.


Exercise 1.3

For this exercise I took a number of shots both with lines converging to a point in the frame as well as images with lines flat (or as flat as possible) to the sensor. In some cases the perspective was adjusted in post processing to correct for the tilting of the lens.

All pictures were taken with prime lenses on a DSLR in programme mode and auto-ISO turned on. The camera made its own exposure decisions, but the lenses were focused manually.


Picture 1


Picture 2


Picture 3


Picture 4

Pictures 1 and 3 are very similar in the sense there are strong lines both from the bottom and top of the picture that lead the eye towards infinity. There are a number of elements on these pictures (people and objects) that fall along the path of the lines, but while the eye stops temporarily to examine these objects, it quickly continues to follow the lines, in both cases towards infinity, where there are no special features for the eyes to stop, for which they move back along the same lines to where they started. Picture 2 is somewhat different from the other ones in which the leading lines are stronger (as the camera was close to them when I took the picture) and in this case lead the eye to a person walking on the top right hand side of the frame. This person is prominent enough to allow the eyes to move to him and stay there for some time, but he does not fall exactly on the path of the lines, for which the eye continues its trajectory towards infinity.

Picture 4 was also taken at an angle to the focal plane and there are converging lines at the side and diagonals crossing the frame. But nearly all these lines are encapsulated by horizontal lines at the top and the bottom as well as by the dark frame at the sides and the bottom, which make a good job of keeping the eye focusing on the middle of the picture. There is one exception to this: the lighter area of the concrete wall to the top centre left of the picture contains a line which continues from one of the diagonals and leaves the frame, through which the eye finds a way of escaping what otherwise would be a very tight framing.


Picture 5


Picture 6


Picture 7

The next lot of pictures was taken with lines running parallel to the focal plane in as much as possible. In pictures 5 an 6 the main lines are horizontal and they primarily serve the purpose of segmenting the frame, but are not the main subject. The segmentation of the person’s shadow in picture 5 by the horizontal lines accentuates the effect and makes the shadow appear to be longer than what it is. There is also a diagonal line created by the staircase wall on the right hand side that contains the picture and bounces the eye back to the shadow. In  picture 6, the line nicely divides the frame alongside the two dots, to which the eye moves back and forth.

Picture 7 contains a nice combination of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines. Unlike that of picture 5, the diagonal here starts from a prominent part of the picture and divides the frame in two parts that contain material visual information. The eye follows the trajectory of the vertical becoming diagonal and stops right at the edge of the frame where there is a person holding his mobile phone. This person is of a dark complexion and being partially in shadow creates a nice contrast to the sunlit concrete wall at the back of his head. In this case, the person and its location saves the picture, which otherwise would have been just a collection of lines leading nowhere.

Exercise 1.2

For this exercise, I took several pictures of a bottle cap that I found on the pavement as I was walking by. At first I tried to place the point in different positions around the centre of the frame.


Picture 1


Picture 2

The point in the above pictures appears to me to be in reasonable balance with the frame, in the sense that it does not result in the eye paying too much attention to one part the picture. Most of the pictures I took focused on the top right side of the frame, so just to see if there was any difference I inverted one of the pictures I took during post-processing:


Picture 3

The above picture is not much different from the previous ones in term of the position of the dot, but I did find that the position of the dot in this case was less balanced than the previous to. The combination of lines and the dot in this case make my eye to try to constantly move down, and somewhat trying to escape the picture through the bottom. It does not seem logical at first, but it may have something to do with cultural influences that make viewers more comfortable with items placed on the right hand side of a frame.

Another thing I wanted to explore was the impact of a point placed at the extremes of a frame, or even barely on it:


Picture 4


Picture 5


Picture 6


Picture 7

From the above, Pictures 5 and 7 start to appear unbalanced with respect to the frame as the point drags the attention too  much to the edges of the frame and there. Because the spot is only partially in the frame in those cases, the sensation that I have as a spectator is that of anguish, in that it is not possible to know if the photographer deliberately included the point in the picture or if it was just accidental. Too much attention is given to this idea and in the end, it ends up consuming the pictures.

To my surprise, I found picture 5 to be the most balanced of the lot, including those previously shot with the spot around the middle third of the frame. In picture 5 the spot is right at the top right border of the frame, but it is entirely in the frame and carefully positioned vis-a-vis the corner so that it does not touch any of the edges. On this occasion, it does look like it was deliberately shot this way and consequently, the viewer can move to analyse the picture as a whole, including why the spot was placed there. I also find that the spot in the corner is well-balanced by the position of the lines on the left hand side of the frame, and that the eye moves back and forth between the two elements without any of them overwhelming the other too much.

I also tried to invert picture 5 to see if the balance was altered when placing the spot on the lower left hand side of the frame


Picture 5 inverted

On this occasion, I found myself paying a lot more attention to the spot and the picture seems to drag the viewer towards the edge of the frame more than in picture 5 above, but the effect is not as unbalanced as that of picture 3, and I did not find my eye moving constantly outside the frame. This may have to do with the fact that picture 5 was shot almost perpendicular to the pavement, whereas picture 3 was shot at an angle which accentuates the convergence effect of the lines, and this combined with the spot to drag attention too much to the left hand side of the picture.

I then tried to trace the trajectory of my eye in some of the pictures I took, as well as a couple of pictures in the public domain that I found in Flickr:

eye 1

In the picture of the Grand Canyon to the left, my eye goes first to the moon, then to the sun-lit clouds on the top o the sky, and then comes back to canyon rocks at the bottom.

eye 2
In this picture, my eye goes first to the centre of the bird’s eye, then to the nostril. It then moves to the bit of dust on top of its head. This spot, either rubbish on the animal’s head or a defect on the negative, is quite prominent given that is white on a black background, almost as prominent as the bird’s eye. I then move to the crest, but my eye quickly catches a spot on the top of the frame (dust on negative or print) and moves there, temporarily wandering off the frame, but it is pulled back again into it by the bird’s eye.


Picture 5, from above

eye 3

In picture 5 of the ones taken for the exercise, the eye first travels to the bottle cap in the top corner, then moves to the centre of the frame, where the lines cross each other creating two junctions. The eye then moves back to the bottle cap to start the cycle again.


Picture 3, from above.

eye 4

In picture 3, the eye again moves first to the bottle cap, then briefly moves to a small dark spot of dust on the bottom right and to the junction of the lines on the right hand side next to it. It then moves to the top right line junctions, but it is dragged again down by the converging lines and the bottle cap towards the lower left hand side of the picture, where the eye rests.

Some observations from the above:

  • Spots are more powerful in grabbing the eye when they are in most contrast with their background.
  • Spots just on the frame (barely on it, or touching the edges) tend to overpower the composition and can grab the eye too much.
  • Balance seems to be more distorted when spots or prominent elements are displayed in the bottom left part of the frame.





Exercise 1.1

For this excercise I took 4 pictures in sequence using the programme mode of the camera and manual focus.


Picture 1


Picture 2


Picture 3


Picture 4

The exposure settings for each picture were the same, but there were subttle variations in the histogram, particularly visible in the midtones. Histograms are shown below.


Histogram Picture 1


Histogram Picture 2


Histogram Picture 3


Histogram Picture 4