This final exercise is asking me to take a number of photographs using the ‘frame assist’ on my camera. Frame Assist is known by many names, Rule of Thirds, Golden Mean, Grid View, Photographers Mean and so on and so on, but in the main, I have known it to be, The Rule of Thirds. Now saying that, its not exactly a rule, more of a guide, to help with the composition and framing of an image.
Quite simply the rule of thirds is depicted by a grid (like the one on the left). Two vertical and two horizontal lines, that intersect in 4 places, where the green dots sit. In photography a point of interest should be placed on any intersection, where you can see a green dot. Its said that our eyes look for intersections in a photograph, looking at the lines making it more balanced, and a pleasure to the eye.
Click here to see further research on Where Do You Look
In the portrait photograph on the left, of my son, daughter-in-law and little grandson, I have over laid the rule of thirds.The left upper intersection crosses over my sons eye, and the right upper section crosses over my daughter-in-laws smiling mouth, which is fine, but the right lower intersection crosses over my daughter in laws hand which is a distraction.
One might argue that the hand is cradling the baby and gives the message of love and protection, but hands in the open flat position, tend to be over exaggerated, looking very large in relation to the rest of the body. Her hand looks almost as big as her face. It could also be argued that the leading lines the fingers take, are pointing you upto to the babys face
(Read more on lines click here)
The lower left intersection crosses over the babys elbow. You do not need to have every intersection on a point of interest. Too many elements in an image may make it seem cluttered and not very pleasing to the eye. Sometimes less is more.
On a recent trip to Ireland we visited a few places and happen to stop near the coast for a bit to eat, I saw this sculpture in the image on the right, and thought it was interesting. As you can see the birds (upper left intersection) and the bench (lower right intersection) are not quite on the cross section. If I had moved one pace to the right they would have been a perfect fit. As it is, the curving line coming from the base of the sculpture leads the eyes up the birds, and finally down to the bench. As we travel through the image, we are taken to the mountains in the back ground, then notice the sea in between.
Having said that, a horizon in the centre of the image is said to be not as pleasing to the eye as having it 3rd way up or down. I could crop this to make it more pleasing, but as it is I think its fine, If I crop the sky it will become unbalanced, If I crop the foreground, there will be too much sky, (note though, that if the sky was the subject this would not be a problem) So, in my opinion it’s fine. I find this image quite relaxing with few elements that make it a simple image to look at…. and as I said at the beginning, rule of thirds is a guide, rather than a rule
Read more on the effects of cropping Click Here
On a recent visit to Beeston Castle in Shropshire, I took the grandchildren for a day out. I noticed a pull ring attached to a large stone and told my granddaughter that if you could pull open the stone you would become a real princess! She tugged and pulled at the stone, I thought it was a great photo opportunity. The expression on her face says it all, she is a very determined little lady.
Her eyes are at the point of interest cross section, while the tree root acts as a pointer to her face. The large rock gives balance to whole image and the grass gives the image an even plain/background.
Another ‘grid’ used by photographers today, to help with composition and framing, is known as the Fibronacci Sequence . Its a mathematical sequence used by Italian born Leonardo Pisano, in the 1100’s. It was something he came across when he was trying to work out how many rabbits he could breed in a month, if he started with 2 rabbits.
Although the actual sequence was first mentioned by the Indian mathematician, Pingali, between the 5th century BC and the 2nd or 3rd century AD. Pingali is also the father of the binary system, in todays terms, what we would associate binary with is, computer technology, our thinking maybe that binary is relatively a recent invention, but binary has been around since the 2nd century 1500 years before German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz discovered it in 1695.
The Fibronacci Sequence is a mathematical curve that sweeps round as seen in the figure on the left. The curve touches the edge of the frame when the proportion is a square. It does not match the exact position of the lines in the rule of thirds, which are in pink (in the same figure) Although the 5th square does hover over the bottom right intersection in the rule of thirds pink line.
Exercise 1.4 Frame
Take a good number of shots using the frame assist, no need to bother about the rest of the frame, but making sure that there is something of interest at one or more of the sections. I found this exercise very hard, as I wanted to move from where I actually took the photographs for them to be framed better, but as the instruction was ‘dont bother about the rest of the frame’ I didnt!
Focal Length 20mm
The photograph of the right was taken on a visit to Newcastle, while walking in The Walker Park. There were many aluminium sculptures. These mushrooms where about 6ft high amongst the trees in the woodland walk. I didnt set the frame assist as I was too busy looking around for something interesting to photograph. I did however want to get the mushrooms in the top right intersection.
It was a very dull cloudy day, in the evening, so I set the camera to fit the bill.
Looking at the photograph, I feel it is a bit heavy to the right as there is nothing of interest on the left hand side. The tree in the middle (behind the mushrooms) is something I would normally avoid as it contributes to the unbalance.
The thin light coloured trunk on the extreme right of the frame, creeps in and becomes a distraction. Ideally I should have moved further to the left and avoided the negative area to the right, using the big tree trunk to balance the frame/mushroom. If this was the only position I could take the photo in, I would have cropped the Light coloured thin trunk tree out
Focal Length 27mm
On the same walk, I saw the big log lying on the ground and decided to use this as a focal point to aim my camera at. I thought the spider sculptures would add interest. Again though, the tree at the centre of the picture is not where I would normally place such a disracting element. I would have moved to have the log in the lower right hand intersection, with the two large trees framing the spiders and the log in the foreground.
Focal Length 7mm
At the school Christmas Fayre, my granddaughter wanted her face painted. It was difficult taking photographs in a school environment as other parents may not have liked to have their children photographed. But I managed quite a few by making sure that only my grandchildren where in the frame.
The classroom was fairly bright and no flash or extra lighting was needed, but my granddaughter was backlit which meant I couldn’t get the twinkle in her eye. I know that I could use Photoshop to improve on this to add a twinkle, but my use of PS and Light-room are limited. I would have liked the eyes to be a little sharper.
The background had enough DoF to mask out childrens work, but the light from the window at the top right hand of the frame is a little burnt out, and as its almost the same colour as the make-up on the face, it lessens the impact/interest I was hoping the face painting would have.
Focal Length 4mm
Writing a letter to Father Christmas always brings a smile, and this little one is no different to any other child writing a list.
Here I wanted to use the wooden reindeer as foreground interest, adding to the story of Christmas, I also wanted to include the Father Christmas figure on the bookshelf behind my granddaughter, but he might have been better moved to the left, to balance out the colour a little more.
There are mainly reds followed by blues (sky and cabinet) Father Christmas would have been better placed on the window above the green bottles with the white card behind him. I would have then increased the DoF enough for the viewer to know it was a Father Christmas figure, but not too sharp to detract from the main subject. Backlit again from the window, give a nice glow around the hair. On the whole the image is a bit cluttered, increasing DoF would eliminated this problem.
Focal Length 4.5mm
Finally they get to meet the Father Christmas. He was seated in a small wooden hut at the back of the school and the only lighting was from the open door, therefore I used a 1/2 flash setting for short distances as I didn’t want to over expose the scene.
It was hard to decide what element to line up with the rule of thirds cross section, and I had to be quick about it as there was a big queue of impatient children waiting their turn to see the main man. In a split second I concentrated on the granddaughter.
My grandson was too high in the frame, and focusing the intersection would have meant that there was far too much empty space to left, and the feet would have been out of the frame. I tried to get the distance of the grandsons head and the granddaughters feet equal distance from the top and bottom of the frame respectively. I could have taken the shot as portriat instead of landscape, but then I would not have got the fireplace, stocking and Santa’s bed in the frame.
The star on the left would also have been mostly cut out showing only the tips. The star on the left is balanced against the sign on the right, which is at the same height. Whilst the bed is balanced by the fire place and socks. The stools and the pictures on the floor, together with the star and sign act as a frame for the main subjects.
Focal Length 4mm
Back for a walk in the park in Newcastle. The evening light left a glow on the trees. I focused on the bench as my point of interest. The path leads up past the bench to the glowing trees in the distance, but the fence on the right of the frame looks out of place.
The large trees on the far right and left of the image, frame the glowing trees in the centre of the photograph and work with the path to lead you to them.
The whole image is very heavy on the right with the Fountain, bench and fence. Also the lighter colour on the ground (bottom left) becomes unbalanced against the grass on the right. Reviewing this photograph, I question whether the bench is really the focal point or are the glowing trees of more interest?
Focal Length 9mm
I moved forward a little to include the fountain, but this really didn’t work at all. Focusing on the fountain meant that the bench was hanging off the frame, far to close to the edge for it to be of any interest at all. There are too many vertical elements that stand in a straight line, these would have been better if I had moved to the right and changed the perspective somewhat.
On the whole the image is again unbalanced with the fountain, bench and part of the fence (just in frame) for me to comment further.This photograph would normally be put into the delete file!
Walking further into the park I found a lake with ducks and a number of sea gulls. There was not much in the way of interest, although the sunset glow was still reflected on the trees. On the far bank were some wooden posts so I thought I would concentrate on those.
The sky was a little dull and this was reflected in the water. On reviewing this photograph I found it flat, and the three elements, which I deem to be, the water, the trees and the sky, did nothing really to complement each other. The horizontal lines these elements create, layer the image into thirds, but having the edge of each layer resting on the rule of thirds line does nothing to the aesthetics of the image.
The vertical trunks and the bank on the right of the image do lead in to the line of posts, but that is all it does. There is nothing of interest besides that. The odd swimmng duck get lost as its far too small to add any impact to the image.
Focal Length 50mm
Moving closer to the fountain, there were 4 little cherub type figures holding a horn and sitting on a dolphin like creature. I decided to focus on the cherubs face and fill the frame as much as I could. I photographed the cherub that had the sun to the right of me so that I could get some reflection on the statue without my shadow being added to the frame, or the sun being behind the statue causing it to become a silhouette. The cherub fits nicely in the frame and the detail is highlighted by the shadows from the sun. The light and dark areas give the sculpture form and interest is generated in the various shapes and lines. I am happy with the DoF but there is a little screw that shines brightly on the cherubs shoulder, which I could have photo-shopped out, but, to my understanding thats not the idea of the exercise.
NOW having said all the above, there are times when the subject looks just right in the middle of the frame, here are some examples. Meet Mavis and Mildred, two cows I met up north when visiting family.
A belly dancer that graced us on a Turkish Night whilst on holiday this year, I must add that, here in this photograph and in the photograph above, symmetry comes into play. Symmetry is pleasing to the eye and many will find that this will prove to be of interest to the viewer.
The same could be said for the photograph I took at Audlem Fayre, where there were many classic cars on show.
As for the other 3 photographs above, The bonfire, taken on New Years Eve to see 2015 in, The Chandlers Shop at a museum in Hartlepool and the Olive Press Shed taken in Turkey, they are not symmetrical, and have empty spaces. In the bonfire, its the dark area, in the other two its the wall.
In my opinion they work because they have enough interest in the rest of the frame to warrant a closer look. There are just enough elements within the frame without making the photographs too cluttered.
All the photographs here are presented as the good, the bad and the ugly, warts and all.