Aspicus and the Art of Photography

From Snapper to Shooter (hopefully)

Project 12

Positioning the horizon

What: The aim of this project is to explore the position of the horizon has on the composition of a photo.
Where: Claremont Landscape Garden – a National Trust site near Epsom, Surrey.
When: Mid morning in early May.  The weather was nice and bright at the time of shooting.
Why: Claremont Landscape Garden is a very picturesque location centred on a lake.  While wandering around I noticed the shot below and thought it would make a good subject for this project.  They aren’t strictly what the project asks for (it says “an unbroken and clear horizon”).  I had taken some shots before focused on a classical horizon from the top of a vantage point but I wasn’t very happy with the result, so I thought I would try something very slightly different – the horizon isn’t very clear in its own right, but the proportion of the image between cloud and ground does change noticably.
How: Camera settings were manual.  Focal length was at about 35mm – I wanted some sense of depth and surrounding.  I shot at an aperture of f/10 to try and keep most of the image in focus.  ISO was set to 500 as I was shooting handheld and needed a slightly higher ISO to give me a shutter speed of 1/200 to ensure crisp images.  I had to adjust the shutter speed quite dramatically between sheets.   All shots were taken in RAW and then converted into JPG.  The images were ever so slightly non-horizontal so I straightened them up a bit in software.

The images

Image 1:

This image has the greatest sense of depth, due to the additional foreground.  However the central subject of the image – the building in the distance – is not immediately apparent.  Also the trees are mostly out of view and it all looks a bit clumsy.

Image 2:

This one is slightly better.  There is still the sense of depth and the lead in from the avenue of trees, but now the building is a bit more prominent.  To be honest though I find the foreground a bit dull – its only function in the image is to lead the eye to the building, and I think about 2/3 of the image is a bit too must for it to do this.

Image 3:

This is my favourite I think.  The building lies about 2 thirds of the way up the image which seems natural (see the section on the Golden Section in the course notes for example).  The sense of depth from the foreground is still apparent as are the leading diagonals towards the building.  The trees are mostly in view in contrast to the 2 images above.  Overall, this balance of depth, leading diagonals and subject placement in the frame seems the most natural to the eye (well my eye anyway).

Image 4:

This is probably my second favourite and I thought long and hard about this image and the one above (well for a few minutes anyway – I didn’t lay awake at night fretting about it or anything).  The reason I went for the image above is that in this image the building is at the centre of the frame and my eye sees it first, before the trees the foreground anything else.  Therefore the rest of the image seems a bit of a waste.  Image 3 on the other hand, the eye is led to the building and so the viewer sees/explores more of the image.

Image 5:

The sky is taken up a larger proportion of the image than the foreground now.  If the sky was dark, gloomy and dramatic perhaps it would have worked as it would be an integral part of the image, however it is bordering on being blown out and so again just seems a waste of that large a part of the frame.  Additionally the sense of depth is beginning to be curtailed and the diagonal line of the trees does not really add anything to the image apart from a sense of symmetry.

Image 6:

The sense of depth is pretty weak now and the composition seems all wrong – neither one thing or the other.  It does not really focus on the building, and it does not encourage the viewer to explore the image.

Image 7:

This one looks like I slipped while taking it.  No sense of depth at all.  The bottoms of the trees are out of view.  The top of the trees are dull.  The building is not prominent nor is it pointed at by anything else.  Probably me least favourite version.

So overall then Image 3 is my favourite, followed by Image 4.

Further Questions

None really from this project, however had I taken these shots before reading about the Golden Section I think I would have had questions regarding why Image 3 felt slightly more natural than Image 4.

What I’ve Learned

Again a very useful project and really getting at what I wanted to learn from this course – how to compose an image.  In my snapper mode I think I would have settled for Image 4 (or even 5!) – a straight on shot of the building.  The fact that I’m thinking about these things though and prefer Image 3 as an all-round image is encouraging to me.  The position of the “horizon” in the above shots illustrates how the balance of the foreground and background elements interact and combine.  I’ve learnt that depending on what the photographer wants to emphasise in the image and how they want the viewer to explore the image, influences the position of the horizon in the image.

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10 May 2009 - Posted by | Projects

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