Aspicus and the Art of Photography

From Snapper to Shooter (hopefully)

Project 7

Objects in different positions in the frame

What: The aim of this project is to explore shooting a object in various parts of the frame, in particular in the middle and to the edges.
Where: A mushroom ornament in RHS Wisley, Surrey
When: Mid afternoon in mid April.  The weather was nice and bright at the time of shooting.
Why: I was taking photos related to a few TAOP projects on an afternoon milling about Wisley.  This project was on the list.  I decided to use the mushroom as a subject as I thought it was an unusual and interesting ornament, with a very definite texture.
How: Camera settings were manual.  My focal length was at its widest angle (18mm).  I shot at an aperture of 5.6 to try and add some blur to the rest of the objects in the shot to focus attention on the ornament (which it didn’t do as much as I anticipated or would have liked).  ISO was set to 200 and shutter speed was at 1/250sec.  All shots were taken in RAW with no additional software processing beyond converting to JPG.

The images

Snapshot/centred subject:

(my snapshot put the subject in the centre of the frame, so this was effectively the same shot as the centred subject shot)

Subject slightly off-centre to the left:

Subject near edge to the left:

Subject slightly off-centre to the right:

Subject near edge to the right:


My ranking of most favourite to least favourite is as follows (with explanations):

1. Subject towards the left edge: I prefer this photo for a number of reasons.  The first reason is that in this photo, most of the other objects in the frame (i.e. the 2 benches in the background) are either obscured or nearly off the edge – therefore they don’t interfere with viewing the picture.  The second reason I prefer this shot is that the shadow of the mushroom seems (to me at least) part of photo – it shows how sunny the day was much more clearly that the brighter edge of the left hand side of the mushroom.  It is only in this shot that the shadow is clearly visible.  Therefore, the mushroom with its shadow make up the “subject”, and it is only in this image that they are both clearly visible in the frame.  Additionally, to me the textures of mushroom on the darker side are much clearer on the right hand side of the object.  Putting this side towards the centre of the frame means that the viewer picks up this sense of texture much more quickly than in some of the shots below.  Finally, having the subject not in the centre adds a bit of dynamism to the image.  It is slightly more interesting to have the subject off centre to encourage the viewer to take in the full image rather than just the subject.

2. Subject slightly off-centre to the left: It’s pretty close for second place between this shot and the one with the mushroom in the centre.  The reason this one pips the centred shot is that this image displays most of the benefits of my favourite shot, only less so.  So for example the shadow is not completely in frame, the distractions are not glaring at the viewer, althogh they are there more prominantly that the shot of the mushroom over towards the left edge, and the picture seems less balanced somehow (possibly because the edge of the mushroom is in the centre of the frame, and the shadow is clipped off the right hand edge).

3. Subject in centre of the frame:  As said above, it was a close thing between this shot and the one above for 2nd/3rd place.  I feel this image is a different sort of composition from my 1st and 2nd choices.  It is much more about symettry than about balance – the mushroom is bang in the middle and is pretty symettrical itself.  However, this symettry means that the photo is slightly more dull.  The viewer (me in this case) tends to look at the photo, look at the mushroom, and that’s about it.  There is no encouragement to consider the texture of the mushroom, or note the sun/shadow.  Additionally, the distracting benches are now more prominant and the image seems more off balance than the 2nd favourite shot.

4. Subject slightly off-centre to the right: I’m not keen on the shots with the mushroom to the right at all.  The primary reason for this are all the benches, shrubs, shadows of trees filling up the space to the left.  The right hand side of the picture seems to contain the subject, but there are all sorts of odds and ends in the right hand side which distract from the subject of the image.  Additionally, the bright side of the mushroom is now towards the centre, and as discussed above this is not the side (n my opinion) which shows off the texture more.  So the viewer is left with the subject on the right which the inclination to look more right at the more detailed texture, but also a load of detritus on the left which demands some sort of attention.

5. Subject towards right edge of frame.  Similar points to above really. except now another bench has entered the scene on the left, and the shadow of the tree is fairly prominent.

In terms of the overall composition, one shot I wich I had taken was a much lower shot, maybe pointing slightly upwards.  This would remove the benches totally and would offer a more interesting viewpoint of the subject.  On the downside it would also remove the shadow, but I’m not sure whether that might be a price worth paying for the added interest in tems of perspective.

Further Questions

I have a couple of questions thrown up by this project:

1. Why didn’t the large aperture throw the background more out of focus?  I suspect that there is some sort of relationship between focal length, aperture and the amount of blur (see for example Project 2 which had huge amounts of blur).  I will need to read up more on this aspect.

2. I discuss above my preference for the darker side of the mushroom in terms of texture, as well as the balance offered by the shadow. The latter is dealt with in one of the Projects very shortly forwards in the course notes (when I had a quick read through the chapter).  The methods regarding composition and leading the viewers eye is I suppose the subject of the entire course.  This project has offered a taster of the sorts of things to be considered and I look forward to examining these aspects in much detail throughout the remainder of the course.

What I’ve Learned

The placement on the subject in the frame is important to composition (glaringly obvious when I write it like that).  Some of the reasons I have noticed during the project as to why this is important are as follows:

1. Placing the subject carefully means that other objects in the background can either be included or excluded (or their important reinforced or weakened) in the final image

2. Offering an asymmetrical shot seems to encourage the viewer to explore more of the image, as they tend to find symmetry of some form (e.g. balance – the mushroom and its shadow).  This can be used to either encourage the viewer to notice more things that they would usually, or by focusing the attention of the viewer firmly on the subject.

3. The eye tends to favour some aspects (e.g. darker textures in the case above) and this seems to be more natural placed towards the centre of the image (in my favourite image described above, the centre of the image between the mushroom itself and the shadow).


13 April 2009 - Posted by | Projects

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