On-Line Digital Photography Course
In A Mood"
[listen to the lesson]
something special about days when people just lie down on the
ground in the middle of a public place and snooze.
I was reading a funky book recently where the guy recommends
just suddenly lying down in the middle of the street for ten
seconds then getting up and carrying on, as a way of gaining
confidence and not caring about what others think. Must try it
someday. In the meantime I'll content myself with photos of
those who do.
Maybe it's the long
shadows, or the arm thrown lazily across the eyes or the
presence of water... but whatever elements go to make up this
gentle scene, there is a definite mood, and conveying a mood is
an important concept in photography...
Angles & Echoes
I'll start with a specific aspect of composition here: angles.
As it happens, this picture nicely illustrated a couple of
basically two parts to this picture: the water and the river
bank. This creates a strong diagonal separating the bit where
things are happening (the bank) from the bit where things are
not (the Seine). Don't forget that if I hadn't tilted the camera
this wouldn't have been an angle at all, but simply a straight
line going horizontally across the shot, so this was a definite
creative decision on my part.
this line is a tiny bit of the wall I was leaning on, in the
bottom left of the shot. This is almost insignificant, but it
does balance the pic a bit and acts as a frame for the walkers'
to these static angles are the shadows of the walkers and the
mooring post in the river. These are at almost the same opposing
angle as the edge of the path, creating a pleasing 'V' shape at
the top of the picture and filling in that bit of water with
The echo in
this case comes from the fact that the two walkers' shadows are
perfectly mimicked by the shadows of the two mooring posts in
the river. Don't think this is negligible - it all goes to
making the shot hang together nicely (even if I did notice this
only about ten minutes ago!).
from the above, what else is there to say about the composition?
Well, you know me... there's plenty - always plenty!
The dude up top-left is
both a pain and a blessing. At first I thought, oh no, he's far
too much stuck in the corner. But then I thought, no, he nicely
frames that part of the shot, adds to the balmy atmosphere, and
balances that block of shadow bottom right.
Funnily enough, the
sprouts of greenery clinging to the river bank are perfectly
echoed by the smaller blobby shadow of the leaves on the bottom.
Another example of how repetition, however subtle, can make a
The people walking are
not there by accident. Well, I didn't actually tell them what to
do, but you can bet I waited quite a while to have the right
sort of passers-by filling in that vast void of empty
cobblestones as a more animated counterpoint to the lazy
And of course on a day
like that (21st June, longest day of the year, during the FÍte
de la Musique in Paris) they come with their shadows
absolutely free of charge.
So in the end we have a
sort of harmonious triangle formed by the lying woman, the
sitting man, and the two walkers. The whole thing nicely framed
by bits of wall, tree shadows, greenery and river architecture,
all going up to make a pleasing shot.
created by a combination of things: the weather, the position of
the photographer, the poses of the subjects, the angle of the
sun and the texture of the surfaces.
poses suggest tranquillity and relaxation - even the walkers are
clearly strolling, not hurrying.
shadows and the texture of the cobblestones (which I emphasised
later on the computer) add to the idea of an indolently sinking
sun warming the banks of the river Seine on a long summer's day.
down on the subjects not only gives an interesting point of view
but also suggests a bit of intrigue or even envious voyeurism!
Maybe the photographer would actually quite like to be himself
lying down next to that supine and scantily clad young lady,
listening to the gentle lapping of the ripples against the
Seine's mossy moorings...
Then comment on this
lesson in the
Photo Blog with a link to your best result - we all want to see
- Look for stark angles such as
the edges of modern buildings or lampposts or chair legs
- anything - and do something original with them. Twist
and turn your camera - it won't mind, honest!
- Put yourself up high somewhere
- maybe on a bridge or a walkway over a busy shopping
precinct or business area - and take pictures of the
busy little ants scurrying around below you. Make
patterns with them and let your imagination run wild.
People look so funny from above! (watch out for lens
flare from fatties' balding heads like mine!)
- On a balmy summer's day, or
alternatively a chilly winter's morning, go out looking
to create an atmosphere. People wiping their brows,
blowing into their hands, clutching their coats about
them or taking off their pullovers - it's up to you to
tell the story.
- angles &
echoes - make angles where there aren't any by
tilting your camera and see what you can create out of
the ordinary. Play different angles against each other
and look for several angles going in the same direction
which can be used to dynamic effect
- composition - think
carefully about every element of the photo and try to
make them complement each other. Think about the shapes
the subjects create between them, and don't forget to
frame your picture with what's available, even if it's
only a bit of a scruffy old plant or a wavy shadow
- atmosphere & mood - you,
the photographer, have two jobs: one is to find a mood,
and the second is to enhance it! Reality is rarely as
wonderful as we would like it to be, but don't worry, we
have a whole bag of tools to help us - be they in your
imagination as you set up the shot or in your tinkering
afterwards - there are no rules!
~ Comment on this lesson in the Photo Blog