I seem to have found a methodical way in which to start research. Not having studied academically before I had to spend some time considering where to start and how to utilise past skills in the undertaking of research.
My experiences in the past is criminal investigation so I apologise if this comes across a little clinical in presentation and reading. However, as in everything, approaches evolve. The important thing is that I start.
So I start at the beginning.
The first project in ‘Elements Of Design’ look at ‘a single point in a frame’. We touched a little on this in the ‘The Frame’. I was struggling to see the point of looking at this and that probably stemmed from ‘trying too hard’ as a brand new student.
I have looked at many images now that use point photography and can now see how single point photography can be not only aesthetically pleasing but also the starting block for furthering composition with multiple points.
Exercise 1 invited us to look at the graphic positioning and consider our own photographs(this is logged under the category ‘The Art of Photography – `exercises’). Michael Freeman (Ilex,2007) demonstrates in diagrams where placement zones are:
Slightly off centre.
He goes on to say that positioning within the centre of a frame might be logical but is rarely pleasing.
. At this point I stumbled across Fay Godwin’s website and found that many of her images fly in the face of this advice. In particular one image entitled ‘Single Stone, Ring of Bangor, Orkney’. This image can be found on her website under this link…
http://www.faygodwin.com/landmarks/im05/index.html (accessed 19/10/2013)
So why does she did she chose a dead central placement of a neolithic stone in this image and others? It was hard to say but I am aware that there are other aspects of design and composition to consider further along the line. I was sure it would become more apparent on how she arrived at her decision.
For me, at that point in time though, the feel of the image along side the consideration of placement is that the stone is presented at bleak, isolated and ominous.
I later found this same image in a book I had forgotten about ‘What Makes Great Photography 80 Masterpieces Explained’ . The author reinforces some of what I read into the image but also adds, “Godwin makes the stone the absolute centre of the image, dwarfing the landscape that surrounds it. However, she makes no attempt to monumentalise it: it is viewed with interest rather then with awe. The light is sharp, which illuminates the detail of the stone; set against the cloudy sky, it has an ominous presence.” (Williams, 2012:185).
At this point I went back to ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ and revisited an earlier section of the book where he explains that as soon as we allow free space around a subject it becomes an issue. It may be an obvious choice to place a subject in the middle of the frame especially if there are no other compelling elements but doing this is too predictable. But to position a subject elsewhere in a frame needs a reason. He also suggests that setting a subject off centre is often desirable to keep a relationship with the subject and the background. (Freeman,2007:24)
So, given this reasoning I am wondering if Fay Godwin’s image is composed as it is because the background is playing second fiddle to this neolithic stone. Also because it is the dominant feature and that dominance she wanted to hold true?
Perhaps as I venture through The Art of Photography and read further into psychology of images, i will begin to form a stronger opinion.
The next part of the project asked us to consider multiple points. I struggled with this exercise immensely and it shows too in the produced images from the subsequent exercise. Having reflected on this there are several reasons…..
Firstly, having looked back in my photography library I have never really got past single point photography. Secondly, I tend to adopt geometric design in more abstract work. Thirdly, the example given didn’t speak to me on any level and only now that the the module has progressed do I understand the point being made. Last of all asking us to take the photograph from the POV directly above also seemed to not help in connecting with the exercise and I couldn’t find further examples at the time.
Anyway, since then, I have been away working through some more exercises and came back to look at multiple exercise with fresh eyes. First I re-read the notes and re visited ‘The Photographer’s Eye’. By the very act of adding a second point the simplicity is lost. The eye is made to move around the frame and find implied lines and a dynamic tension occurs(Freeman,2007:70). I can’t have digested that sentence on the first read and hence the difficulty was in the lack of understanding before attempting the exercise which, in itself, isn’t going to be as easy as first imagined. As I looked at the example in The Photographer’s eye I became aware that in my not understanding the issues of relationship between points within a compositions, I was always destined to stagnate in creativity.
Henry Hargreaves, a New Zealand based photographer, has an example of multiple points where flow can be seen between multiple points in obvious and not so obvious ways. I wish I had found his image ‘local identity’ before trying to take on the multiple point exercise. http://henryhargreaves.com (accessed 20/10/2013 and 05/11/2013)
Already, in this new understanding I am able to see how multiple points work. Hopefully, I can now avoid using single point and geometric compositions for the most part.
Another photographer I have found, that makes wonderful use of point photography in his wildlife and landscape work is David duChemin. On this link I was able to see beautiful examples of point placement and frame division within landscape. http://davidduchemin.com/prints/ (accessed 20/10/2013)
This has been truly challenging exercise for me and one worth spending time thinking about.
William.V (2012), What Makes Great Photography 80 Masterpieces Explained, London: Applepress.
Freman.M(2007),The Photographer’s Eye, Lewes:Ilex.