frame projects

cropping (III)

In the images that follow, I once again cropped to reposition the horizon. I think the placement of the horizon in the initial picture was better than my previous image because I had not placed it exactly in the centre; but there was still room for improvement.


In both the crops, I opted to follow a slightly panoramic approach; and also removed the half boat on the right edge of the picture.

In the first crop, I found myself keeping the weight of the image towards the bottom of the frame and allowing for more sky to be retained. This meant that I lost some of the reflection that had originally encouraged me to take the image. But I did feel there was a visual zig-zag pathway with the viewer seeing the darker boats at the bottom left first and then moving to the brightly-lit huts and then to the boat in the distance on the horizon.



In the second crop, I opted for the opposite approach, cropping the sky and retaining more of the reflection. I think in this image, the viewer would more than likely follow the reflection to the huts first and then notice the dark boats on the left. At this stage, I prefer the first crop, think there is too much sea in the second crop.



I also noticed that in the first crop, I had placed the huts on the intersection of the rules in the lower third of the image. As I had been concentrating on the position of the horizon and removing the part boat on the right, I was not completely aware of this until I looked at the grid as the image appeared in this document. Similarly, in the second crop, the huts were placed on the intersection in the upper third. I’m not sure if this was just a lucky coincidence, or if something good had happened in my head when I took the picture!

It was not my original intention, but after writing this note and looking at the images, I found myself wondering what would happen with a more extreme panoramic crop, where I removed much of the sky and the foreground water. In this crop. In looking at the result, I felt that the darker boats had become too prominent in the image.



Of the three crops, once again I tend to be drawn to the one that has the larger sky area.

This cropping exercise was interesting. I think that possibly it will help me to think more when I am actually taking the shot — a little more of in-camera cropping as opposed to cropping after the fact. But then, I am also aware that the 3:2 constraint of our image sensors means that very often we will have to compose a shot, knowing that we may wish to crop out certain areas in post-production.

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cropping (II)

With this image, I went back to an older image of which I was rather proud; and wondered whether it would benefit from a tighter panoramic crop. I always thought that there was a little too much sky and water. Now I know I must try and position the horizon better within my images — again trying not to split the image by placing the horizon firmly in the middle.


I opted to follow the same procedure as in the previous exercise, using the ‘Rule of Thirds’ as an aid when cropping the image. I also removed the distracting building on the left hand side of the image.

There are two alternate crops, one giving more weight to the sky, whilst the second emphasises the foreground sea and the jetty.





I prefer both crops to the original; and although I like the way the extended jetty in the second crop leads the eye into the image, I think that the first crop is my final preference. There is more interesting detail in the sky, and this gains prominence in the first crop.

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cropping (I)

When I took this photograph of Maddy, I tried to implement a number of the skills I had hoped to have gleaned from this module. Firstly, I tried not to bulls-eye her in the frame; and to place her on the thirds within the image. I also opted not to shoot her vertically as this would have been my normal approach as mentioned previously.


I was pretty happy with the results, but then decided to see if a definite ‘Rule of Thirds’ approach would improve the image.

Using the grid vector tool in Photoshop, I cropped the image so that a horizontal third ran through her eyes; and a vertical third through her body.


I know that I must use these rules as a guide; and not be hidebound by them; but it was interesting to see the result, although I did wonder whether she looked better smaller in the frame. I have been criticised because I do not leave sufficient space within the frame.


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vertical and horizontal frames

In this exercise we were asked to find twenty situations and shoot all those images vertically. The purpose was to not only force us out of the habit of shooting most things horizontally without thought for the subject or composition. It was also to make us aware that although certain subjects may be more suited to either a vertical or horizontal approach, most subjects can be captured in either orientation, albeit with varying degrees of success.









































One of the questions posed in the project was whether I would look specifically for tall/vertical things to photograph – but I did not. But still tend to place objects lower in the frame when I was shooting vertically.

Often, without much thought, I choose my camera orientation according to the type of subject matter and not necessarily its dimensions/orientation. So whereas I think that part of the purpose of this exercise was to become more familiar with using our cameras portrait orientation, for me it was slightly different. I tend to be a horizontal for landscape; and vertical for people type of person – without applying much thought to it; and this was why I found the exercise interesting.

There were a number of images which I preferred in what would not be my ‘normal’ way of shooting; for example, the shot I took in St Mark’s Square. Normally because the subject was a building, I would have shot it in a landscape orientation and tried to get as much of the building in the frame as possible. However, because I had to shoot it vertically first, I opted not to let the building take up too much of the frame – but enough so that it was obvious where the shot had been taken. What really appealed to me when I looked at the vertical was how strong the diagonal lines were in the image. Maybe I should have cropped the painted diagonals out – but I liked them because they contradicted the other lines in the pavement and the lamps.

Similarly, in the images depicting the ‘Bad Timing, Lamb Chop’ sculpture, I found myself preferring the vertical image. In the horizontal image, the sculpture becomes part of the landscape and is not necessarily the focal point of the image. I find the two blue vertical poles distracting as they seem to compete with the vertical cigarettes in the sculpture.

I prefer the vertical image because it removes the poles, allows the sculpture to become more prominent within the image. I think it could have been slightly lower in the image. I see a more logical visual pathway through the image from the chair to the banner board, and then to the reflections which now show in this vertical composition. In the horizontal, my eye goes from the sculpture, up to the banner and then down to the poles.

Found that changing my orientation to vertical for something that I would have normally shot horizontally, did have an impact on what became the focal point of my image. In the vertical image on the gondolas in the foreground, I deliberately choose to throw the background out of focus, but for the landscape image I opted to focus on the buildings in the distance and let the gondolas blur by using a longer shutter speed and hoping that the movement of the water would introduce some blur.

Having found there were surprise images that I actually preferred in the vertical – I also found a number of images, for example the Prince of Venice boat, the metal bridge images and the view across the water with the buildings in the distance – where I still definitely prefer the landscape version. With these images in the vertical, I found that I was getting too much sky and foreground.

Regarding the image of the girl in the market, the vertical image tends to be my normal approach when people are the subject of the image, and in this particular situation, I do not feel that it is necessarily the right approach. I am happy with her positioning within the frame; and with her pose, but feel that it does not show enough of her surroundings. I find the horizontal image more appealing in terms of the content – although I wish she had not changed her pose. I like the fact that her positioning within the frame gives her somewhere to ‘look’ instead of looking directly out of the image in the vertical. I also like the diagonal lines formed by both the trays in front of her; and the shelves behind her. They seem to follow the direction of her gaze; and I think lead the eye through the image.

And there were images that I would have automatically have shot vertically and still feel it was the better option, like the image of the peppers in the market. The vertical lines of the peppers suit the vertical orientation of the image, while the horizontal image seems to be just a mass/mess of colour.

All in all, an interesting exercise which hopefully will force me to reconsider my natural tendency to shoot people vertically and landscapes horizontally!

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positioning the horizon

Feel on more solid ground again after the balance exercise. In this exercise we were to concentrate on the placement of the horizon within the frame when composing an image. We had to find a viewpoint with a reasonably interesting landscape with a clear and unbroken horizon. Little concerned about my selection. I opted for the tree because I thought it gave some impact to the scene; and it’s positioning within the frame would also influence the positioning of the horizon. Once completed, we were to arrange the images and write a short comment as to the effect of the horizon placement on the image.






image 1

In the first image, I have placed the horizon as high in the frame as possible without cutting into the tree trunk. The image is actually more successful than I thought it would be at time of shooting. I was drawn to the scene because of the tree trunk and because of the sky. I also have a natural — maybe borne of habit — tendency to place objects with weight lower in the frame.
However, in this case, if feel the foreground leads to the trunk and then to the sky behind. If the foreground had been more interesting, it may well have been a decent image. Oh; and if I had placed the tree trunk less central horizontally. So focussed on the horizon, that other concerns went out the window, once again. My only regret about having the horizon so high is that a lot of the detail in the clouds is not included.

image 2

In this image, the horizon is slightly lower, but still above the centre, possibly closer to a 1/3 division. I am actually finding the first image more pleasing than this, which is strange because I am so often forcing myself to remember the Rule of Thirds when placing horizons — otherwise they end up plumb in the centre.

image 3

Here the horizon has been placed about in the centre of the vertical; and I think it is the least pleasing of the images thus far. Having a stage of looking at the previous image, and deciding that I prefer it to the one that I am commenting on. But that might change. Guess the only plus here is that more of the sky is coming into the image; but attention is split between the foreground, the sky, the tree trunk; and the aeroplane.

image 4

With image 4, the horizon has moved down to the more traditional 1/3 from the base position. This is actually the shot that I would , more than likely, have shot from habit — or maybe I would have placed the horizon a little bit lower — but not as low as image 5. Actually, now when I look at it, I am starting to prefer the horizon placement in image 5. Thinking that in 4, there is still too much conflict between the foreground, the sky and the tree trunk. If, in my mind’s eye, I remove the tree trunk, then I am happier with image 4.

image 5

Horizon is far lower than I would ever have placed it!! Yet, in many respects, I am rather happy with it. I had moved slightly back from the previous images, which is a pity — because of the now visible sandy foreground. But, think this image is cleaner than the preceding image. The foreground is less intrusive, as is the tree trunk — which now directs your attention to the sky as opposed to being part of the sky in image 4.

image 6

Here I think the horizon is far too low. Image 5 was probably the most extreme that I would have been happy with.


Surprise of the day was the fact that I liked both image 1 and image 5; where I had placed the horizon more extremely than I would have normally. Tend to be a thirds type of gal. Also found that it seems easier for me to try different horizon positions in a vertical as opposed to a horizontal orientation. So often when I do a horizontal, I tend to centre it, and then need to crop afterwards. Will in future take more shots of a view and try more horizontal positions. This might help my eye when designing images — especially landscape type images.

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finding balance

In this exercise we had to identify balance within images, this balance could be objects, lines, tones or colour. We had to identify where we saw the balance by using a weighting diagram as shown in the images alongside.


Really had problems finding balance in my images — maybe because there is no balance, or because I don’t really understand the concept, or what I am looking for.

I could find balance in very contrived images — like some of those included here, where there were symmetrical objects, or even if the objects seemed to be mirrored — doors and windows. But once away from that, I really battled.

Also wondered whether balance was easier to find in horizontal pictures, rather than in vertical pictures? And then, I’m really wondering what the difference is between balance and symmetry.

image 01

Think this works for balance, in a number of ways. The size of the larger wheel intrudes further into the image than the smaller wheel — both horizontally and vertically. Also the coloured backgrounds work in a similar manner; and they also hold their opposite object — the lighter background holding the darker wheel; and the darker background holding the lighter wheel.

image 02

In this image I think the balance is provided by the two white shapes — the girl in the dress and the similar shape, colour and size of the torn part of the dress which is trailing behind her. But worried that I am looking for, and confusing the concept of symmetry, with balance.

image 03

This is balanced because the larger object, the man and his cart is closer to the centre of the object than the other man. Also think that the contrasting height of the two objects helps; with the smaller object (width) being taller than the wider object.

image 04

Not totally sure about this one. Visually I would say that they are balanced because of the symmetry between the objects — the two windows either side of the door; and also because of the balance in the colours — with an very similar amount of both green and yellow. But then I look at the different spacing between the elements as indicated by the balancing scale above; and I am not sure. Then I think, if focus on the fact that the smaller visual mass occupied by the window on my left is closer to the edge of the frame than the mass of both the door and the window on the right, does that make it balanced?

image 05

I want to say that this is balanced, but I am finding it difficult to explain why, and not sure if I can illustrate it on the balancing diagram. For me it is all about the tones within the image first; and placement of the window second, even though there is nothing on the left of the image to balance with the window. The upper darker area is roughly twice as larger as the lower lighter area; and it is this size discrepancy which seems to balance the two major areas within the image for me. If they had been equal, it would have looked unbalanced as the whiter area would have seemed too large.

image 06

Again, this image is balanced in a number of ways. The diagonal stairway bisecting the image divides the image into two semi-identical areas, there is also areas of light and shade; and the objects in horizontal lit area, balances with the darker objects in the vertical area.


As mentioned above, I did find this exercise rather difficult because I was not entirely sure what I was looking for; and whether the images I selected actually met the criteria of ‘balance’,

I also found it difficult to sketch in the diagram when elements in the image were not horizontally arranged — like my last two images. Images that contained simple and very visible elements such as the wheels and the dress alongside were far easier to assess and comment on.

Would appreciate some guidance on this particular aspect; and whether what I have seen in the pictures is actually balance.

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focal lengths and viewpoints

In the previous exercise, the purpose was to note how changing focal lengths narrowed the field of view, with the position of the camera remaining pretty static throughout. In this exercise, the object was to show how changing viewpoints when using different lenses will also affect the image — particularly when changing between wide-angle and telephoto lenses.

The subject I chose was my long-suffering partner, who is often a reluctant subject when I need to check something out with a camera or lens. I knew before starting that wide-angle lenses — when used close-up on people can result in caricature-type studies with distortion of features or body-shape, but guess that was half the fun!

lenses used

The first shot was taken with a 70-200mm telephoto set at 200 mm; with the close-ups being taken with a 16-35mm wide-angle set at 16 mm. The aperture stayed constant at f/8. I kept the aperture constant because I wanted to see the different depth-of-field produced by the two lens.


Image 1 was taken at 200 mm at a normal eye-level. There is no evidence of perspective distortion; and the perceived depth in the image is flattened. The distance from the subject to the tree behind on camera-left looks markedly less than what it looks like in the wide-angle lenses. The greenhouse, and the tree on camera-right have been rendered pleasantly out-of-focus which is what I would expect to happen with a telephoto lens.


200 mm f8 taken at eye-level. No discernible perspective distortion. Depth flattened. Details in back of image rendered out of focus


With all three of the wide-angle lenses, there is both an increased depth-of-field; and an increased sense of depth between the objects within the frame. The distance from the subject to the tree (camera-left) seems markedly more than that in the telephoto lens. The angle of view is increased with more of the surroundings — for example, the shed (camera-right) becoming visible. The ground no longer seems flat — especially visible in images 2 and 3 —where it seems to rise away from the camera. The lines in the grass are more visible; and seem to converge.


16 mm f8 taken at mid-body level. Visible perspective distortion of both subject and background. Lines on the grass seem to increase sense of depth. More of the scene visible. Increased DOF.


16 mm f8 taken at ground-level. Increased perspective distortion on the subject. Ground seems to rise up away from camera.


16 mm f8 taken at eye-level. Similar to previous two, except the distortion is down to subject’s feet which are now markedly smaller in the distance; and the head size — closest to camera is increased in size.

In all the wide-angle shots, there is a marked increase sense of depth with the image, with greater space seeming to exist between the objects. The depth of field is also noticeably greater in the wide-angle lens.

Also noticed in other images that the wide-angle lens tended to accentuate the clouds — what minimal clouds there were — and consequently added to the drama of the sky.

use of wide-angle lens in fashion

Although I was aware that using a wide-angle lens on the subject, at both the distance and vertical position that I was using it, would inevitably lead to a non-sympathetic distortion of the subject, I am aware that fashion photographers often use a moderate wide-angle lens when shooting vertical full-length shots of models. They use the perspective change to increase the perceived length of the model’s legs and height.


The increased sense of space and depth of field in a wide-angle lens is very suited to landscape shots where we want to increase this sense of space; and not really suited to people as it distorts characteristics when used at extremes.

The telephoto is useful for flattening depth and also for extracting the subjects from its surroundings. [Having assessed these photographs, I wish I had continued with the series, shooting wide-open (f2.8) and stopped down to f16 or f22 to see the difference between the depth of field on the two lenses at those settings. I had anticipated some of the differences in perspective, but had not really anticipated the difference in depth of field.]

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understanding focal lengths

This was an exercise to study the effect that the focal length of the lens — that as we change lenses from one focal length to another — its effect on the amount of view we can take in. The objective was to find a view that was open but which had some details in the distance. Once having found that, we were to tripod the camera and take a series of photographs in the same direction with the different lenses and/or zoom values available. We were allowed to change composition slightly if we felt it would benefit a particular image.

choice of location

I had chosen in Great Windsor Park for this exercise because I remember being stunned by the grotesqueness as I had driven to Windsor for work some time ago; and had made a mental note that these would make a great subject.

the weather does not play ball

Knowing that my subject would be the trees and that it was likely that I would have a fair amount of sky in the image, I had waited about a week to go and do this project . Days passed with noncompliant skies — either pure blue sky with no clouds at all, or just boring, completely overcast skies. I wanted clouds, big and bubbly, to add interest to the image; but in the end, knowing that my deadline was approaching, I just had to pick a day and go. I scheduled my visit for late afternoon, hoping that some raking, low side-lighting would add interest to my subject, but except for one brief moment , the lighting remained flat and boring. Even that image was not that great in terms of lighting, but at least there was some light and shadow evident on the tree trunk. Understand the plight of being a landscape photographer a little more!

the wrong time of year

Also learned from chatting to someone in the park, that the best time of year to photograph these trees is in autumn when the leaves have begun to fall, or in winter when they have fallen. And the best time of day, is either early morning when the mists have not yet burned off; or on nights when there is a full moon. So another visit is planned — hopefully another exercise or assignment will lend itself to this subject!

lenses used

I assembled three zoom lenses, and focused on a large tree trunk in the distance. I took a fair number of images; but the ones that I have selected correlate most closely to the standard lens lengths.

16-35mm f/2.8
24-70mm f/2.8
70-200mm f/2.8

changing composition

The images started off being landscape orientation with my target tree stump centred in the image. However as I zoomed in, it became necessary to switch to a vertical composition to keep all of the tree in the frame; and keep some interest in the photograph.


It is evident that by remaining in the same position and then zooming in on the image with different lenses, that the viewpoint becomes narrower and narrower. One also gets a different sense of the space in the images.

The wider the angle, the greater the sense of space and depth within the image; and surprisingly for me, a greater sense of inclusion of myself within the space — if that makes sense.

With the zoomed in images, the objects within the image seem flatter, the space relationship between the objects seems to diminish. But also there is a sense that I am an onlooker and no longer involved in the scene.

another time

These trees offer an interesting potential — with the leaves gone and more dramatic skies; and it is definitely a place I will revisit later in the year—as long as the flasher is not there again! But that’s a whole another story!

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a sequence of composition

Not much of a people shooter — there was always a chance that this project was going to take me well and truly out of my comfort zone. I always feel very conspicuous when I have a camera in my hand — whether at private functions or in public — especially when the aim is to photograph people. Came to the market with the express purpose of taking photos of Venetians doing what they traditionally did in a traditional fish and fresh produce market — but it was not long before the produce became the subject. Is it okay that although I stayed at the market, the subjects in the image changed throughout this exercise?

lens choice

I opted to take just one lens to the market — 135mm prime, thinking that it would be enough of a telephoto for me to shoot and be inconspicuous. In retrospect, would have preferred a long telephoto zoom which might have allowed me to work from further back — but I would have stuck out with the big lens. But I am really trying to get used to using prime lens and moving my feet as opposed to just staying in one position and zooming.

technical considerations

Shot under a large red tarpaulin, and the area was lit with mostly tungsten lighting — trying to set a white balance for the images was really difficult. They were either too blue, green or red; which made the people look odd and the fish looked lifeless.

It is also interesting looking at the way my shutter speed has reacted to the differing light conditions. I am shooting aperture priority; and changed neither my aperture nor the ISO at all during the shoot. Also I shot with Evaluative as my metering mode throughout; which meant that in some of the photos which were backlight, the subject of the image was under-exposed; and required further processing in Lightroom.

Really want to get more confident shooting manual; making more decisions myself instead of leaving it to the camera Find it difficult to keep track of all the technical aspects as well as paying attention to composition. Hoping in time, that I will take more control over the actual image.

overall conclusion

A really interesting exercise. Was I successful — not totally. Not sure if it was okay that I changed subject as I worked through the market, but the prospect of concentrating on one stall, or person, would have been too intimidating for me.

It is definitely something that I will do again — another market more than likely; but think I will try and get the courage to ask the owner of a stall if he minds if I photograph for a while.

My absolute favourite shot from here — the fish — nothing to do with the people in the market then! But, also like the last images where I moved in closer and captured some of the ‘not expected’ moments at the market and details with people in them.

Learning that I like abstracts and details more than the pull back shots, but must keep a balance. Really learning so much looking at; and dissecting my images, hoping it shows in progress.


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object in different positions in the frame

For this exercise, I chose a small bench underneath a tree, and in front of a hedge, in Windsor Great Park. The objective was to create a series of photographs where the bench at different positions within the frame— central, left and right, and towards the edge, which I am learning is called eccentric — and then to see the effect the positioning had on the composition. We had to rate the images in order of preference, explaining why some seemed to work better than others — specifically commenting on the relationship between the subject and the background.

The image shown below is the one that I rank best out of this set. Although I do have a query—concerned that the bench is not in a large, even background and that the relationship of the bench to the tree is actually dictating the composition more than it should for this particular exercise?


The reason I rank this one the best is both its position in the frame, the slight angle of the bench into the frame, and the relationship of the bench to the tree on the left hand side of the frame. The bench itself remains the focus of the image, but by positioning it with the tree just into the frame and eliminating a bit more of the foreground, the scene seems to ‘hang together’ better for me.

I think that if the bench had been slightly lower in the frame; so that more of the overhang of the tree had been included, it would have been a better image, looking more like a place of refuge or shelter.

In Image 2, the bench is too high in the frame, with too much unnecessary foreground, although one could suggest that it provides a pathway through the foreground to a place of rest.

Image 3 has a similar problem, with even more foreground.

Positioning the bench on the left in Image 4 seems wrong because of the angle of the bench pointing out of the image.

And with image 5 the bench is bulls-eye centre, which makes its just a picture of a bench in the centre of the frame. It has no relationship to the rest of the background.

One thing that I am finding with my images, is that I am happiest when I position the element of main focus lower in the frame.

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fitting the frame to the subject (II)

After taking the previous four shots, we were required to find alternate crops of the final image from the previous exercise. In all honesty, I don’t think that my previous shots, were as successful as they could have been, so I am not holding out much hope here. The first, rather unambitious crop at a 3:2 ratio, sought mainly to remove some of the residential building, but did little to improve the image.

In the second crop, I have still maintained the original proportions, but opted for a vertical crop, which surprisingly, I actually prefer to the original. Somehow, because I had not included sufficient of the mosque for it to contribute to the image, it seems better to remove it altogether?

The third image is by far my favourite. It may be the novelty of a panoramic crop, but somehow by removing the excess sky and foreground, the surrounding buildings — left and back, seem to contain the front building better, and tied the smaller building with the mosque? Ideally, I would have liked some more space on the right of the white building, but that was not possible, given the unrelated buildings that I was trying desperately to eliminate from the image.

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fitting frame to subject (i)

In this exercise, we were to experiment with the amount of space that a subject takes up in the frame. I chose to photograph the traditional washing station in the grounds of the Selimiye Mosque, Nicosia. All mosques have rules regarding the cleanliness of worshippers, although not all mosques are able to provide dedicated areas for this practise. My first shot shows just the ablution block situated in the square alongside the mosque. As instructed in the exercise material, I took the shot without taking too much time about the composition. Looking at it now, It is pretty much a holiday snapshot of a building. Only the mosque’s perimeter walls are evident; and so there is little to relate the block to its actual purpose.

lens: EF24-70mm | f/2.8L USM | focal length: 34.0 mm | iso: 100 | f-stop: 3.2

Irrespective of the fact that we were told to take the shot without placing to much emphasis on composition, I can see now that my whole approach was wrong. Should have repositioned myself at least — so as to eliminate the residential building on the right; and included at least some of the mosque building on the left — needed to have created a ‘sense of place’ for the image to have any sense. As it is at the moment, it is just a photo, and someone looking at it does not know its purpose — because of the exclusion of the mosque wall; and because the detail of the inside of the building is not evident because of the distance from which I have shot.

In the second shot, where the image fills the frame, more of the detailed architecture and patterning becomes apparent; and the seats and taps can be seen. This makes the purpose of the building more evident. A slight improvement on the previous image, in that by changing position, I have managed to nearly eliminate the residential building from the first shot; and I seems important to show the open entrance to the building.

In the third image, we had to close-in so that none of the edges of the subject, were visible; and photograph just a part of it. I think this is one of the more successful images as the detail shot now shows the purpose of the building. I also like the fact that I have chosen to shoot the open entrance, as the close crop has, to a large extent, eliminated the visual clutter evident in the previous two images. More than that, what appealed was how clean the seats and washing area were kept, against the background of the peeling paint on the ceiling.

In image four, the instruction was for the object to fill a quarter of the frame, or less; and for its surroundings to be stressed. Partially successful, in that I included part of the mosque wall on the left of the image; but I don’t think I really succeeded in stressing its surroundings.

If I had moved quite a bit more to the right, I may have been able to eliminate the residential building mentioned before, shown more of the mosque walls; and also been able to illustrate the contrast between the size of the ablution block and the large mosque. Possibly may have been a day to bring a wide-angle lens. And the time of day at which I was shooting was not the best for the harsh shadows in the foreground.

What I found interesting about the exercise, especially the fourth instruction, was the stressing of the surroundings — the creating of a ‘sense of place’. With too many of my images, I shoot too close and eliminate as much of the surroundings as possible. Have a 16-35mm lens which I so seldom use; and which I think I should try and use more often.

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can’t pan, won’t pan…

An afternoon sat on the roundabout in Trafalgar Square, handheld camera with limited success…although in retrospect — they seem to be the most successful.


A few hundred shots later, taken from my hotel room window in Venice, with tripod, without tripod, different shutter speeds, different apertures, different days — and a holiday going down the pan!


An afternoon in the garden with a tripod and panning head, in a controlled situation with instructions being delivered to the subject.


It is now a universally accepted truth that Vicki cannot pan; and not for a lack of trying. Maybe I’ll try again in the future, but this exercise so got me down that I very seriously considered throwing in the towel. I was really frustrated and dispirited by this exercise, and did not know how to proceed. I think the more I got obsessed with my inability to pan successfully, the more frustrated I became, and the worse my attempts became.

No matter how many options I tried, I just never seemed to be able to pan smoothly — even when on a tripod with a panning head. The subjects were always blurred, although in some instances, not as blurred as the background. I have a new found respect for all photographers who have somehow managed to master this ‘dark art’!

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fixed position with shutter speeds

In this exercise, we would investigate how shutter speeds would either freeze motion, or allow motion to be recorded in an image. A series of images were shot, with the subject walking across the frame from left to right/or right to left. The camera was fixed on a tripod; and various shutter speeds were used to record the action.

1/10 sec

None of the motion is frozen — except for the subject’s left foot which is firmly placed on the ground. The evidence of motion is such that I am able to ‘see through’ the subject’s shirt to the foliage behind. The blurring gives a sense of speed and motion, yet the subject was only walking comfortably.
Background in focus, subject ghosted because of motion. Extreme ghosting suggests rapid movement, which I know was not the case.


1/15 sec

With subject in mid-stride, there is a sense of motion throughout the body , although the subject does not seem to be moving as fast as in the previous frame. There is slightly less ghosting, but I am still able to see through the shirt.


1/30 sec

Back foot is clearly in focus as it is one the floor, the rest is blurred by the motion. However, I am no longer able to see through the subject to the foliage behind


1/60 sec

Motion is still visible, but there is less evidence of ghosting. The subject has become solid. The feet show the least amount of movement in this image.


1/100 sec

Focus is not good in this image, but I am still able to make out movement, especially in the leg away from the camera and in the swinging arm. Ghosting in the body has disappeared.


1/125 sec

Another image where the focus is not good, but I need to retain image for the purpose of study. Motion is even more limited especially in the body, but it is evident in the moving leg (closest to camera) and the arm away from camera.


1/250 sec

Very similar to above; with motion nearly stopped especially in forward foot which is placed on the ground. Hind foot, which is lifting, still shows motion.


1/320 sec

Last shot taken in this set and the body is stopped in mid-step. Possibly a little motion still detected in the feet, which would have been stopped if I had gone to 1/500 sec.


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focus at different apertures

The images illustrate the effect that changing the aperture has on the depth of field within an image; and how the increased depth of field can be a distraction in busy scenes.

image 1

In the first image, the lens has been opened up to its widest aperture — f/2. Consequently the depth of field is very shallow; and to compensate for the amount of light being allowed in, the shutter speed is extremely high. The pleasant thing about a narrow depth of field is that it helps to eliminate, or at least lessen the impact of, distracting foreground and background details.

image 2

With the aperture stopped down to f8. the depth of field has increased fairly substantially; and elements such as the Breitling billboard in the background are becoming recognisable and distracting. As would be expected, stopping down has also had a dramatic effect on the shutter speed which has dropped from 1/6400 in the previous shot to 1/400 in this one.

image 3

With the lens completely stopped down to f/32 most of the image is now in focus — excluding the tourist who was moving. The ‘G’ in the Breitling sign, the brown awning, the water bottle, bird and even the statues distract from the line of the bridge. As noted before, stopping down has also had a marked effect on the shutter speed which has now dropped to 1/30 consequently recording the movement of the tourist on the bridge.


In my opinion, the effect of the large depth of field is unattractive in this situation because the image looks like a snapshot. This is not to suggest that one must always have a limited depth of field, but that there are definitely times when a more shallow depth of field will work to the photographer’s advantage to lesson the impact that nonessential elements have on an image.


apertures and my camera

Before starting the course; and doing these particular exercises on aperture; I had a very simple understanding of aperture and how it would affect my photography. I knew that if the light was low; I would have to work at a wider aperture to let more light in; and conversely, in strong situation, I would stop down. Similarly, I knew that if I wanted a shallow depth of field, I would open up; and stop down if I wanted a greater depth of field.

What I did not know; is that digital cameras do not conform to film cameras when it comes to available aperture options — that technically speaking f/3.2 was not a ‘real’ aperture, but rather one made possible by digital cameras.

I had heard about how changing aperture one stop either way would either halve or double the amount of light; and thus impact on the shutter speed; but had never really tested it. From these images, it became immediately apparent that when I used traditional aperture values, that a change in an aperture setting reduced the light by exactly half; and consequently doubled the exposure length/shutter speed in order to achieve the same exposure. For example, in Image 02, where I used a ‘digital aperture’ value; the shutter speed is neither twice as long as that of the preceding image; nor half the duration of the following image. If I had shot at f2.8, my shutter speed would have been 1/3200.

My camera (Canon 5D Mk II) does not seem to offer full aperture settings, but options of 1/3 or 1/2 increments. I have left it on 1/3; but know in future I will have to move the dial 3 times in order to stop-down or open-up a stop.

Similarly, I have noticed that the ISO speeds were also in increments, but have since changed that to be what I understand to be full increments.

I am interested in dabbling with HDR photography; and what I have coincidentally learnt here whilst looking at focus; and thus understanding more about the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and SO will be helpful

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focus with a set aperture (ii)

This set of images is a repeat of the previous exercise where I concentrate on focus with a set aperture. These images differ from the previous in that the content is not as uniform throughout the image.In addition to the brick detail, there is also the background sky, spire, advertising board for Breitling watches; and other building details. Prefer these images to the snail images; as there is not such an amorphous mass, and I think that the diagonal line formed by the bridge helps to lead the eye through the image.

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focus with a set aperture (i)

In this exercise we were to become familiar with how a wide aperture affected our depth of field in an image; and also how this affected our perception of the image when the in-focus area was rendered in different parts of the photograph. Unfortunately, not sure if the photos I took fulfil the brief accurately because I did slightly move between the shots — this was to try and maintain some interest in the photos by focusing on snails that were still alive and moving as opposed to just seeing still shells. Consequently, I have another exercise which I will also include here. I chose to include the snails, because I think that with the subject matter, the different areas of focus change the image quite substantially.

image 1

In this particular image I focused at the back of the snails, and with a wide aperture was able to render the foreground out of focus. I find the effect visually disconcerting because I think that with an image like this where the content is essentially the same throughout, it is not logical to have the foreground out of focus and the background in focus.

If the subject matter had been different and there was a single person or object of interest at the back of the photo, then having the foreground out of focus would have made sense.

image 2

Following the brief, I then changed my area of focus to a slightly lower area of the image where once again a snail was moving and I liked the symmetry of the two shells that are in focus on the left of the image.
Although the area of focus has changed slightly, this image still suffers from the same problems as Image 1; where that large out-of-focus area in the foreground detracts from the image; and does not lead your eye logically through the image.

image 3

In this final image of the set, I have moved the area of focus to the lower third of the image, which I think suits the image far more than the previous two. The live snails are now more immediately visible; and the eye is drawn to them and then through to the back of the image.

Having said that, I am not sure whether there is still too much of an out-of-focus area in the foreground and wonder whether the image would benefit from some cropping to remove some of it? What I do like in the image is the fact that the in-focus area of the picture seems slightly higher than the shells behind; and there is a sense of fall-off behind the in-focus area; which I think tends to give the image more of a 3-dimensional as opposed to 2-dimensional feel.

It also seems more logical, in this instance, to have what I perceive to be the ‘weight’ of the image closer to the base of the image.


Although it is not necessary to always have the in-focus area at the front (or lower portion) of the image; I think that in this instance—where the subject matter is pretty constant through-out—the comparison of the images makes it seem the more logical choice.

I think that having the focus in this area provides a logical pathway into the image in that it gives more weight to the base of the image; and then allows the eye to travel through to the back of the image.

Having the snails in this lower position and in focus, draws one’s attention to them immediately as opposed to the snails in Image 1 and 2, where one has to get passed the large mass of blurred material before noticing the snails. In Images 1 and 2, one has to look more carefully at the image to make out what the content is, whereas I think that in Image 3, one is immediately aware of the content.

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