Exercise 6 A Sequence of Composition – The Street Band

Fig. 2 - 1/100 at f/5 - ISO 110

1/100 at f/5 – ISO 110

The Sequence of composition exercise is designed to help the practical process of composing an image. It suggests a street scene as the best location.

My chosen location was Winchester market which, on the first  Sunday of the month, has two markets close to each other in the centre of the city.

The challenge in this exercise is to develop an idea of the “final” image whilst moving around seeking the best vantage point and an ideal subject. By its very nature a market is a fluid place with people moving between stalls and the many streets that this market stretches across.

Over the course of 2 hours I captured sequences in each of the distinctly different areas of the market.

The Street Band

TAoP-Ex-6.15-band-sequence-contact-sheet

This sequence took about 2 minutes and 20 seconds to shoot. The band were comparatively static and the challenge was to avoid passersby walking into shot and moving to new vantage points in the small crowd that had gathered.

Fig. 1 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 500

Fig. 1 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 500

My initial shot was taken as I found the band, the whole band is in shot but it is an uninteresting composition. My instinct was to try and get closer to individual musicians so I moved slightly further up the street.

Fig. 2 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 280

Fig. 2 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 280

I framed the two wind musicians in fig.2 to see whether the relationship between the two would make a good composition. There is too much empty space adding no value to the image so I zoomed in on the pair and focused on the nearest woman.

Fig. 3 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 280

Fig. 3 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 280

This shot, fig. 3,  cuts out the distractions around the musicians and is a much more satisfying composition but it is not, in any way, dynamic, nor is there any sense of them being part of a lively street band.

I moved further in front of the band to isolate the women in the red coat.

Fig. 4 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 560

Fig. 4 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 560

Fig. 4 was taken from this new position but did not feel interesting.

Fig. 5 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 640

Fig. 5 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 640

I moved again to the right and began to photograph the clarinet  player , fig.5, whose bright scarf made the image potentially more vibrant.

This made for a better image with the shop window providing a sense of place and her shape and the scarf making a pleasing composition.

I moved further in front of the band to look at the other players.

Fig. 6 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 800

Fig. 6 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 800

The guitarist was next in line. I was fairly certain the the final image was going to be a close up so I stayed zoomed in when I took the shots of him. His hair and expression of concentration held some promise.

Fig. 7 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 360

Fig. 7 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 360

However, his grey shirt and the off-white background make this a dull photo. The band was on the shady side of the street so it scene was fairly subdued already.

I zoomed out and caught him facing in a more interesting direction. The passerby leaving the shot to the left seems to add rather than detract from the image and I think that the dark coat and the blue music stand frame the subject quite effectively.

My natural progression was to continue to the right and I felt that the last two musicians were more animated and that all the energy in the band was coming from these two characters.

Fig. 8 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 140

Fig. 8 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 140

Although I had been getting generally closer I zoomed back out to 70mm to capture these two men together. This felt a better shot as there seemd to be movement and the backdrop gave a real street musician setting. I stayed with this position in the hope of capturing an image with more energy.

Fig. 9 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 140

Fig. 9 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 140

Fig. 9 has captured the man to the right in a better pose but it seemed seemed flat and I felt that I was too front on and needed to focus on these two but from a more dynamic angle. I stepped right and inwards to look back down the line of the band.

Fig. 10 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 140

Fig. 10 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 140

This gave me a better angle on the two nearest musicians without losing the feel of the street.

Unfortunately I was now in the middle of a busy pedestrian route so it was becoming harder to get the shot. I moved left again to avoid the traffic.

Fig. 11 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 220

Fig. 11 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 220

This shot, fig.11, might have been the end of the sequence but I haven’t captured everyone’s energy at the same time but the flautist knocked over his coffee and looked down to deal with that just as I took the shot. I think that there is a much more interesting crop here of just the three men.

I stayed just about where I was but turned the camera back to landscape.

Fig. 12 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 180

Fig. 12 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 180

Fig 12 captures the band and the street but two musicians have stopped playing and the picture is without any interest again. A backward step in terms of progression towards the final image.

Fig. 13 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 180

Fig. 13 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 180

Then the flautist and the guitarist looked up, the violinist turned my way and a passerby moved into shot. This is probably my favourite image but I had been progressing towards a close up.

So, I zoomed right in as the flautist started playing again.

Fig. 14 - 1/100 at f/5.6 - ISO 180

Fig. 14 – 1/100 at f/5.6 – ISO 180

I focussed on the flute and at f/5.6 achieved a satisfying blur on the violin player. This image works reasonably well but the alternative ending is a crop from fig 13 which I think has much more life.

Fig. 15- 1/100 at f7.1 - ISO 180

Fig. 15- 1/100 at f7.1 – ISO 180

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