Category Archives: 7 Frame shapes and sizes

Exercise 11 Vertical and Horizontal Frames Part 2

1/100 at f/20 ISO 400

1/100 at f/20 ISO 400

This is the second half of my log for this exercise and starts with pair 9.

Pairs 1 to 8 are discussed in Exercise 11 Vertical and Horizontal frames Part 1.

As found with the first 8 pairs I was seeking vertical subjects so in most cases the vertical version is better than the horizontal. With this set there are, at least, two failures where I did not do justice to the subject in either format.

I enjoyed this exercise even though it is the most work of any exercise so far with a large amount of sorting, editing and summarising to complete. It was also a challenge, which of course I didn’t achieve, to capture 40 interesting shots in an afternoon.

It reminded me of an Ansel Adams quote ” Twelve significant photographs in any year is a good crop.”

Pair 9 The Towers

Fig 01 - 1/800 at f/4 ISO 100

Fig 01 – 1/800 at f/4 ISO 100

Chichester Cathedral has a separate Bell Tower to the North West side so it is possible to capture this, the North West Tower and the Central Tower in one wide angled shot.

These three tall buildings seemed a perfect subject for a vertical frame and fig. 01 does work reasonably well. The line to the right balancing the single tower to the left.

Fig. 02, the horizontal version, works better. The framing has allowed me to capture the bulk at the bases of the towers and this creates a feeling of great size and weight that is lacking from fig 01.

Vehicles were parked between the towers that I didn’t want in the shot without them there might have been a stronger composition available.

Fig 02 - 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 100

Fig 02 – 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 100

Pair 10 The Doors

Fig. 03 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3200

Fig. 03 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3200

The glass doors of the cathedral made an interesting composition with the vergers standing to greet visitors.

In fig. 03 I have intentionally stayed just off a silhouette  as I think the faint tone of the inner wall adds a little to the composition. The idea seems to work but the silhouettes of the two people are lifeless.

In Fig. 04 there is a more interesting scene developing in front of the doors and as a result it is a better photograph but the wide, dark expanses to the sides are unnecessary and apart from the lit stand add nothing.

To test whether the failure of fig. 03 was the subject rather than the frame I cropped fig. 04 into fig. 05.

Fig. 04 - 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 1600

Fig. 04 – 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 1600

Fig. 05 - 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 1600

Fig. 05 – 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 1600

Fig.05 is the best composition of the three.

It is tighter on the doors than fig. 03 and has none of the dark distractions in fig. 04. The two vergers are distinct and separated from the visitor and I like the word “donations” that is lit up to the right.

The chandelier works well both symmetrically and as a balance to the bright backlight on the doors.

Vertical therefore wins the day because it better fits the shape of the subject.

Pair 11 Pondering

The cathedral grounds were being used for a sleep-over to draw attention to the homeless and people were building their shelters. This pair of shots of a man pondering how to make his temporary shelter hold together are not strong images but they do show that using a horizontal frame on this subject caused a number of compositional challenges.

The subject has faded into obscurity against a dull background. Fig. 06 is not a great shot but at least the subject is obvious.

Fig. 06 - 1/100 at f20 ISO 1000

Fig. 06 – 1/100 at f20 ISO 1000

Fig. 07 - 1/100 at f20 ISO 1000

Fig. 07 – 1/100 at f20 ISO 1000

Pair 12 Blue Tent

Fig. 08 - 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 560

Fig. 08 – 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 560

Fig 09 - 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 450

Fig 09 – 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 450

Fig 10 - 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 450

Fig 10 – 1/125 at f7.1 ISO 450

I liked the blue tent images far more when I took them than I did when I reviewed them. The horizontal version is cluttered with no clear subject, the man is looking away and the baby has climbed in front of the women. The subject appears suited to a horizontal frame but it has not worked as an image.

The original vertical version at fig.09 is equally weak. The man is in a better position but it was difficult to frame this well. The grass and the building add nothing.

Fig. 10, which is the strongest of a week set is a crop of fig.09. The vertical frame is now working better and the man becomes a more interesting subject but it is still an untidy photograph with uncomfortable dynamics. The man wold be better to the left but then we would have the legs of the women in shot so it is at best a compromise.

Pair 13 Fast Food

Fig 11 - 1/100 at f/20 ISO 400

Fig 11 – 1/100 at f/20 ISO 400

I am very pleased with fig.11. I had already taken the landscape shot of the fast food wagon while these two tourists were buying their hotdogs and realised that there might be a shot of them walking away. I got into position just in time to catch this image. I have thought long and hard whether crop it in post production but have eventually decided to leave it exactly as captured. The man is very tight to the left but I like the sequence of him and the women looking at their food then the wagon to the left and the street disappearing into the distance. I think the balance has worked with the subjects right at the front with a deep, in focus, background. The initial shot was a little over exposed so I have adjusted the exposure by 1/2 a stop in Camera Raw and then by using a mask put different curves on the sky and the street. I think this image has a 3D feel.

The horizontal shot, shown at fig.12 below, is obviously from a quite different angle. the cart and the queue of customers were the right subject for a landscape frame whilst the two tourists with their hotdogs worked best in portrait. I think that these are a strong pair.

Fig. 12 - 1/100 at f/20 ISO 1600

Fig. 12 – 1/100 at f/20 ISO 1600

Pair 14 PC 559

Fig 13 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 900

Fig 13 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 900

Cheerful policeman obviously get assigned to manning the police tent and PC 554 was a jovial loooking character.

In fig. 13 he is framed effectively by the white tent and is smiling out of the picture. An adequate shot but not especially interesting.

In fig. 14 he is placed in context and we can see that he is sharing a joke with two others.

The horizontal image tells the more interesting story.

There is an intriguing balance in fig. 14 with two frames within frames. It takes two glances to realise that it is one, not two, photographs, It would have been good to have something linking the two frames.

Fig. 14 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 500

Fig. 14 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 500

Pair 15 Fracking

Fig 15 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 1600

Fig 15 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 1600

Fig 16 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 900

Fig 16 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 900

Fig. 15 and fig 16 are two alternative vertical framings of a protester by the old market.  Fig. 15 was more spontaneous as he had just spotted me with the camera and raised his placard to ensure it was in the shot. By the time I shot fig 16 he was posing and staring right into the lens. Fig 15 is well balanced with the three other people in shot but I included fig. 16 as it is a better study of the placard man.

However, fig 17 works better than either with the lady to the left and the man with his back to us engaged with the placard man and balancing him and the sign. In this instance the more interesting frame was horizontal.

Fig. 18 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 450

Fig. 17 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 450

Pair 16 Bench and Child

Fig. 18 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Fig. 18 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 100

The man on the bench was watching the toddler make her way past. He is sitting in a patch of sunlight and this seems to emphasise his role in the image.

The problem here is that this is a horizontal photograph in a vertical frame and most of the information in the top half of the picture is irrelevant. More thoughtful use of DoF might have helped.

In fig. 19, even though the little girl has moved past the best spot, there is far less distracting detail and a good balance with the two subjects at either end of the bench.

Definitely a horizontal subject.

Fig. 19 - 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Fig. 19 – 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Pair 17 Two Men on Bench

Fig. 20 - 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Fig. 20 – 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

A new character appeared on the bench, seemingly loaded with shopping and ready for a rest.

Fig. 20 is balanced and well lit but it suffers from the same problems as the previous vertical composition.

The man on the left has now become aware of my presence and this makes the shot a little more interesting.

In fig. 21 there is better composition but I find that this shot works less well that the photo with the little girl. This might just be the subtle balances of the background or the fact that in fig. 19 there appeared to be a connection between the man and the girl whereas in fig. 21 there are two independent subjects.

Fig. 21 - 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Fig. 21 – 1/160 at f/7.1 ISO 100

Pair 18 The Old Market

Fig. 21 - 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 400

Fig. 22 – 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 400

The old market at the junction of the four main streets is one of Chichester’s landmarks. This seemed to work better in monochrome. I processed it to create strong contrasts on the clock face and the small bust. the two towers balance each other and are well linked by the roof of the market.

I endeavoured to process fig. 23 to have similar contrasts but I find the vertical frame the stronger image.

Fig. 22 - 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 400

Fig. 23 – 1/1000 at f/4 ISO 400

Pair 19 Two

Fig. 24 - 1/1250 f/2.2 ISO 100

Fig. 24 – 1/1250 f/2.2 ISO 100

For the last photograph in Chichester I have chosen this couple on a bench. I initially thought that the police car would dominate the shot but I now feel that it does no harm and potentially creates a line to the subjects. They are deep in conversation and oblivious to the camera.

They moved immediately after this shot so I have selected fig. 25 as the counterpoint.

A very different couple on the next bench along the street. He is totally focussed on his phone and I could have stayed and photographed him for 15 minutes and I don’t think he would have noticed me. The dog is staring into the distance and creates a satisfying composition.

The background is messy but I found that cropping detracted from the line of the two benches so my compromise was to settle for this composition. I find that combining interesting subjects with non intrusive backgrounds is a challenge with street photography and probably why so many street images are tightly cropped. This sort of image, fig 25, appeals to me most with either a very busy or an empty street. Two or three stray people standing still often make the worst backgrounds.

I keep thinking that there is a potential collection of street images to be made exclusively featuring people interacting with their smart phones as that seems to be more common that interacting face to face with other people.

Fig 26 - 1/1250 at f/4 ISO 100

Fig 26 – 1/1250 at f/4 ISO 100

Pair 20 The Avenue

Fig 26 - 1/100 at f/14 ISO 2500

Fig 27 – 1/100 at f/14 ISO 2500

The last image was taken in Farnham Park the next morning. This avenue of trees made an interesting final test of vertical and horizontal.

The vertical composition is not without merit but I found that I needed to be quite a distance from this particular group of trees to create good shapes leading in from the top.

It is obviously another very symmetrical composition but I like the way the single bench breaks up the balance.

For fig 28 I stayed in much the same place but moved the path left of centre.

I prefer the horizontal composition which makes more of the lone bench.

Fig 28 - 1/100 at f/14 ISO 1250

Fig 28 – 1/100 at f/14 ISO 1250

Exercise 11 Vertical and Horizontal Frames Part 1

The Cathedral Choir at Practice 1/30 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

The Cathedral Choir at Practice 1/30 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

My log for this exercise is split across two posts – Part 1 and Part 2 as, after the 8th pair, it became too combersome to scroll up and down the blog editor.

For this exercise I visited Chichester, a beautiful small city near to the south coast in Sussex. Many of the images are taken in and around the medieval cathedral and the streets that lead off from it. I would like to express my thanks to the verger for giving me permission to photograph inside.

We were asked to take 20 vertically framed photographs and then to take the same scenes with a horizontal frame. I did not follow this exact sequence as I found that I wanted to capture the images vertically then horizontally or, on a few occasions the other way round. This worked better for me as I wanted to include some street photographs in my set.

To avoid changing lenses too often inside the cathedral I used two camera bodies. I kept a telephoto 55 – 200mm lens on a DX body and swapped between a 24 to 70mm mid-range zoom and a 50mm prime lens on a FX body. The DX images all tend to have far more grain partly because of the slower lens and partly because of the lower grade sensor.

I subsequently supplemented the collection with some images captured in Farnham Park the next morning and at a crossroads near my home. The variety of these locations, from cathedral interiors, to street scenes to a quiet park allowed me to explore the exercise in varied surroundings and with varied subjects. I was seeking subjects for a vertical composition so on balance it is the vertical frame that works better in nearly every case although a number of the horizontals are on a par.

Pair 1 – The Sign

1/1600 at f/1.8 ISO 100

Fig. 01 – 1/1600 at f/1.8 ISO 100

I will start with the last image I captured.

Whilst out watching the evening sky change colour and capturing some potential images for exercise 10, I looked the other way to see how the light was changing on the landscape. This very ordinary, old fashioned, road sign caught my eye and is an interesting study in a vertical frame, the light is perfect and I like the balance between the white, crossed sign and the dark foliage.

Overall I like the tight horizontal crop on the subject which allows the eye to see the little points of detail such as the rust but the sigh should have been a little lower in the frame.

Fig. 02 - 1/1250 at f/1.8 ISO 100

Fig. 02 – 1/1250 at f/1.8 ISO 100

I think the sign is less successful in a horizontal frame but there are positives. Less foliage beneath the sign than in fig. 01 is an improvement, probably because the featureless dark area is significantly reduced, and I am comfortable with the spacial balance between the light sign and the dark foliage and sky. The subject still seems to be the focal point but I am more drawn to its overall shape rather than the detail.

Pair 2 – High Street

Fig. 03 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 2800

Fig. 03 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 2800

Images of apparent loneliness in a busy place are always interesting. This man appeared to be deep in thought sitting in a quiet corner. The image is strengthened because the pavement was momentarily empty. I chose to process this in black and white as the colour in the original was playing no role, his jacket was black, the front of the shop was black and his face was better defined in monochrome. The vertical framing works well and is balanced and proportional to the subject. It also enabled me to isolate the subject which fitted the idea of loneliness. I see a balance between the man, the bollard to the left and the shop window. On the negative side the image is flat toned, I would have liked his face to be more prominent.

Fig. 05 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3600

Fig. 04 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3600

Moments later the pavement became busy again but he remains isolated. The horizontal frame adds nothing to the image and the overall balance has been lost.

I saw the seat as a lead to the subject but, as a result, I have positioned him too centrally. Poor framing and overall a disappointing image.

Fig. 05 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3600

Fig. 05 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 3600

To see whether the image could be improved I cropped Fig. 04 into a square frame. It works better as it gives a balance between the man and the legs to the right but his face is too high in the frame. Although I prefer his expression in fig. 04 and fig. 05 the vertical frame works best.

Pair 3 – The Saint

Fig. 06 - 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 3200

Fig. 06 – 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 3200

Working inside buildings is always challenging but the potential to use very high ISO and to still get pleasing results is a real benefit of modern DSLR cameras. Initially the tomb appeared to be more suited to a horizontal frame but the stonework canopy is well linked to the reclining saint by the little upright statue above his head and overall the composition works well.

Fig. 07 - 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 2800

Fig. 07 – 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 2800

I wanted to use the gold strip and the body as a line through the composition with the hands, backlit by reflected light, as the focal point. It was not successful and the space above the saint has become a void. Stepping back might have included the stone canopy but the subject would have been lost in the frame.

This is an interesting pair and a good example of the need to consider vertical framing even when the subject is predominantly horizontal. I much prefer the vertical frame.

Fig. 08 - 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 3200

Fig. 08 – 1/100 at f/2.2 ISO 3200

My first post production edit had slightly dull and flat tones which always seem worse when the image has been reduced for the web so I returned to look at increasing the vibrance and in the end just increased the brightness and contrast a little for fig. 06.

Fig. 08 is an alternative processing using the PS6 HDR Tonal adjustment. This has enhanced the shades and tones of the marble and added a glisten to the gold. It has, however, reduced the prominence of the saint’s hands and face.

Pair 4 Flags

Fig. 09 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 2200

Fig. 09 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 2200

Fig. 10 - 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 1600

Fig. 10 – 1/125 at f/7.1 ISO 1600

The frayed old flags of Hampshire regiments hang in one of the side chapels of the cathedral and offered an contrast to the stained glass windows.

Neither framing is wholly convincing but the vertical option with the tighter crop on the flags creates less dark spaces.

Pair 5 Sculpture

Fig. 11 - 1/100 at f/2.8 ISO 2000

Fig. 11 – 1/100 at f/2.8 ISO 2000

An artist, Randy Klein, was exhibiting his sculptures in the North Transept and I caught this moment of conversation between the artist, standing right, and the owner of a sculpture park. It was a quickly taken shot to capture the two men without any other visitors in the background. A little more space to the left and below the large sculpture might have created a better frame as I find the left of the image too tight but overall this works reasonably well and I like the subjects’ body language which seems to show a buyer/seller relationship, or in a different setting it could be a teacher/pupil.

Fig. 12 - 1/100 at 7.1 ISO 12.800

Fig. 12 – 1/100 at 7.1 ISO 12.800

Fig. 12 is an alternative verticaly framed image taken with a different camera as I first entered the transept. I liked the display of small works leading to the two men but the statue to the left feels pushed into them and I would have liked some space at the centre of the frame.

At ISO 12,800 this is a very grainy image without the grain adding anything significant to the atmosphere of the photograph.

Fig 13 below is taken with the same camera and lens as fig 12 and again there is significant grain because of the high ISO but I like the effect it has on the image.

The composition is far better balanced and there is much more of a sense of an exhibition than was captured in either of the vertical frames. There is a good balance across the composition from cathedral sculptural detail to metal sculpture to the conversation with the visitor. Fig 11 and 13 both work.

Fig. 13 - 1/80 at f/7.1 12800 ISO

Fig. 13 – 1/80 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

Pairs 6, 7 & 8 The Choir

Fig. 14 - 1/100 f/2.8 ISO 5000

Fig. 14 – 1/100 f/2.8 ISO 2800

Fig. 15 - 1/100 at f/2.8 ISO 5000

Fig. 15 – 1/100 at f/2.8 ISO 5000

The choir was rehearsing and I took three pairs of photographs from various positions in the nave. In the first pair, fig. 14 and fig.15 I wanted to frame the choir and the brightly lit screen behind the altar with the stone work of the building. the vertical frame gives far greater prominence to the choir and the symmetrical framing is obvious but not unpleasant. I should have been brave enough to move the chair and the music stand but I already felt a little bit conspicuous photographing the choir.

The horizontal frame is much more a photograph of the building with the choir and the screen adding a little shape and colour. I wanted to retain the symmetrical design of the vertical image  and the effect is passable but it risks being a photograph of nothing in particular. Some post production processing to bring out the shapes of the stonework might help.

Fig. 16 - 1/40 at f/7/1 ISO 12800

Fig. 16 – 1/40 at f/7/1 ISO 12800

For fig. 16 I moved much closer and used a slower, telephoto lens on my second camera, hence the dramatic increase in ISO.

This was a difficult image to process as the bright lights threatened to burn out but I persevered and balanced out this result just because of the face of the boy to the left and the two mothers in the background.

It is probably still too dark to the lower right and the choir mistress’ dress might still benefit from a bit of dodging but I really like the line of light on the the faces along her left hand side.

Fig 17. is the partner to fig. 16 and to create this composition I moved slightly to my left and focussed on the group of boys and the adult to the right.

Fig. 17 - 1/40 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

Fig. 17 – 1/40 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

This shot is still about the various expressions of the boys and the watching adult. I like the balance and left the image intentionally dark as it seemed to be an appropriate atmosphere for the subject.

Fig 18 - 1/30 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

Fig 18 – 1/30 at f/7.1 ISO 12800

In Fig. 18 I wanted to capture as much of the brightly lit screen as possible to put the choir firmly in their setting. This is my favourite composition of the choir shots, the singing boys to the right looking into the frame, the choir mistress on her stool and the strong colours of the screen all work well. I reduced the highlights in PS6 to bring strong colour to the screen but keep the lighting subdued and catherdral-like on the overall image.

Fig. 19 - 1/50 at f7.1 ISO 12800

Fig. 19 – 1/50 at f7.1 ISO 12800

For Fig.19 I wanted to include the row of lights on the left going right back to the screen and to do this I had to include the ugly back of the unit to the bottom left, this is a distraction and spoils the composition. It might have worked better to crop tighter on the mistress and the choir.