Category Archives: Part 2: Elements of Design

Tutor’s report and reflections for assignment 2

Tutor Report Shain Mullins 512659 TAOP asst 2

I found this assignment very challenging but I am now starting to think and see in a new way.  My lesson brought forward from my last assignment was that I needed to do more background reading to help me understand what was being asked of me.  Therefore, before starting this assignment I purchased and read: The photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman; Composition, Basics Photography 01 by David Prakel and Design Principles, Basics Photography 01 by Jeremy Webb.  I wish that I had found these books before doing assignment 1 as on the whole I was way off the mark from what was expected and what I imagined was asked.   These books helped me to understand this subject and has started me to think and see in a new and more artistic way.

I actually first thought that plants would be an easy subject as they are all around us; but Mike has pointed out in his appraisal I quickly began to realize that it wasn’t going to be so easy after all, but I persevered and I am happy with the results.

As I began to take pictures I used the idea of artistically composed images that I would imaging you may find framed on the walls of a Garden Centres Café, which later influenced my idea to print large and on reflection was unnecessary.

Single dominant point.  Dominant_point-5-resizedOn reading Mikes comments, I now can see that if I had applied the golden section principle I could have made a better composition.  I believe that the second (middle) colour image in my blog that I illustrated as one of the three that I didn’t use was closer to the golden section and may have been a better choice.  Single point-b-resizedReason for this is that in my opinion the positioning and direction the rose faces would make for a better balanced picture as it is pointing in towards the empty space; so making use of it by drawing the viewers eye across.

Two dominant points.  Two_dominant_points-3-resizedThis is my favourite shot and all my families.  In order to get this picture I had to take it from a greater distance than I would have liked and had to enlarge to bring out the image, which sacrifices quality.  Fortunately I my D800 has a with very high resolution; so I was just about able to get away with it for printing.

Several points in a deliberate shape.  Points_making_a_shape-1-resizedYes on reflection the dandelion is a distraction.  I was thinking of including dynamic balance in this composition but the yellow is too strong and draws attention away from the intended subject.

A combination of horizontal and vertical lines.  Combination_of_horizontal_and_verticle_lines-3-resizedThis was the challenge that seriously had me doubting my wisdom for choosing plants, but I thought this composition offered all the elements that I was searching for.  Perhaps I could have found better examples but the harder I looked the less I could see; so I settled for this.

Diagonals. Diagonals-2-resized I don’t know why the printed image is so much darker, but I am sure I can adjust it for making other prints.

Curves. Curves-4-resizedAgain I believe that I can adjust for a better print next time.

Distinct, even if irregular shapes. Points_making_a_shape-2-resized Yes, I got a bit carried away and should have kept it simple.

At least two kinds of implied traingles 1,2 and 3.  Implied_triangle-9-resized Implied_triangle-8-resized Implied_triangle-3-resized Again challenging to find interesting images whilst seeing implied triangles.

Rhythm. Rhythm-2-resized I just couldn’t see rhythm in anything I looked at and this was the best attempt that I could make. I think that the photo I used for Distinctive if irregular shapes may have worked for rhythm distinct even if irregular shapes-a-resized

Patterns.  Patterns-7-resized Interestingly Mike feels that this is closer to Rhythm, I guess as the song go’s I ain’t got rhythm!  Perhaps in time…






Assignment 2 – Elements of design

Assignment 2
Chosen subjects: flowers & plants
Single point dominating the composition
Choosing a subject that had a fairly plain background, I then played around with positioning the subject in the frame until finding a composition that I liked. I then used Photoshop to colour pop for a more interesting effect.
I have positioned the rose in the bottom left hand corner to deliberately create a dynamic tension by drawing the eye away from the centre of the picture where the viewer’s eye would naturally want to rest and thus making the eye flick unconsciously back and forth across the picture. Below are some alternative compositions that I considered before making my choice.
Single point-a-resized

Single point-b-resized

Single point-c-resized

Two points
A classic example of a geometrically divided frame, the sharp image of the bee in the foreground, balances well with the bright yellow Dandy-lion of the secondary dominant point in the background. I took this image very quickly getting as close as I could without scarring off the bee and then I had to crop the picture in Lightroom to complete the desired effect. I used the theory of balance by framing and cropping moving the bee closer to the edge of the frame whilst the larger point followed closer towards the centre to the picture / fulcrum and thus producing a visually balanced picture.

Several points in a deliberate shape
This image of the pattern of tiny flowers forming the octagonal shape stands out sharply against the contrast of the blurred green background of the foliage and again I have balanced this with the yellow dandelion on the right hand side to create an attractive picture. Each flower could be considered a point making a small octagonal that in turn is making a larger point to make a larger octagonal. I used the dandelion in the background to add a little colour and balance to the picture.
This image conveys to me both design and order in nature.

A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
Reeds in a pond with ripples in the water extending out to the bottom of the frame, the bank, grass, dark background beyond and the iron railings all providing the elements for this almost graphic design. I noticed that the reflection in the water from the contrast between light and dark creates implied horizontal lines as well as having elements of obvious lines.

Using a macro lens to get in close I have framed this to create a sense of dynamic movement by drawing the eye from the bottom left through the picture to the brighter yellow in the top right. It could even be looked at from another point of view that stamens point down to the bottom left. However, whichever way the viewer chooses to read the image both ways direct the viewer through the picture.


I focused in as close as possible to this rose, framing and later cropping the image to emphasise the curves of the rose petals for my desired effect.
By placing the centre of the rose in the top right corner of the frame, I have divided the frame in a geometrical manner to create a sense of dynamic movement from the folds of the petals to radiate out towards the bottom left hand corner of the picture.


Distinct, even if irregular, shapes
An implied British Lion.


I when looking for this composition, I wanted to find something in nature rather than a deliberate still life. In my search I found a pattern of flowers that if I reframed I could create an implied shape.
distinct even if irregular shapes-a-resized

At least two kinds of implied triangles.
I have use three methods to create implied triangles the first by cropping and using contrast, I have created two implied triangles with a third obvious triangle.
In my second image, I have used perspective by photographing down the length of the tree lined avenue to create four implied triangles.
In my third and last, I have simply used camera angle to create two implied triangles between sky and ground.




To achieve the desired effect that I wanted, I focused in as close as I could on my subject and then cropped the resulting image to create the impression of rhythm. Using the idea that most people will naturally view the image from left to right I chose a subject with a repeating pattern that both draws the eye across the picture whilst also encouraging it to look up down as it moves from left to right. I this image the colours direct the eye up and down the photograph whilst the shapes direct the eye across the picture.
This creates to me a feeling of warmth, movement and direction.


In this composition I wanted the create a pattern so I selected a number of small colourful flowers and I deliberately framed them so that they just fit to the edges of the frame in order to create a sense of continuation for the pattern.


Exercise – Rythm and patterns

In this exercise I looked for patterns and rhythm as forms of composition. Part of the principle of pattern and rhythm is that the subject is closely cropped to convey the illusion that it continues beyond the constraints of the frame as seen below.

Using my happy holiday snapper I took this image of a selection of bows on a market stool. Keeping to the rule to tightly crop.

For rhythm I needed a subject that had repeated detail and was tall in order to encourage the eye to scan across the photo and also up and down and I found that finding such a suitable subject difficult. I decided that man made structures or alternatively similarly dressed people such as soldiers was what I needed. Not have any soldiers to hand I sought out a suitable building and found it at Hampton Court. As I was walking around the centre of the palace holding my D800 with a wide angle lens attached I saw an actor standing in an archway across from me and not having time to change lenses I took this picture with my 24mm wide angle and had to crop it down when I got home.

Exercise – Implied lines

In this exercise, I am looking at images that don’t necessarily contain solid lines for the observer to see; but they appear to the viewer through implication. For example by relationships with more than one points of interest in an image or suggestion of movement or by symmetrical patterns.

Image copied from “The Art of Photography” by OCA.

Two images in my course book offer implied lines. The first is of the Toreador and the Bull which has an extension of an implied line that runs from the curved line on the ground along the second flag held in the Toreador’s left hand finishing as a line going out of the picture on the left by the Bull’s tail.

Image copied from “The Art of Photography” by OCA.

the second picture has three implied lines one following the horses eye-line and the other two suggest the curved direction that the two horses are galloping. I think that the strongest of these lines is the eye-line.

I looked amongst my library of old photos to try and find examples of implied lines; but as this is a compositional technique that I was unfamiliar with, I struggled. Finaly I found three examples. However, please forgive the quality.

Implied lines-3-resized

In this photo the implied line is following the eye-line of these performers.

Implied lines-3-resized-a

Implied lines-1-resized
My apologies for this poor example which is terribly out of focus; but it was the only example that I could find from my old library providing implied lines through movement.

Implied lines-1-resized-a

Taking this idea of composition I went out and about to find some opportunities to get some images using this technique.

Implied lines that point-1
I found this view when visiting a museum in Alicante, Spain. Seen from the bottom of an escalator at the MARQ, Alicante, railway station of a modernist steel statue I found this position to get the lines to lead up to the statue and create the impression that it was in fact standing on the top the escalator coming down.

Implied lines eye line-1-resized
I saw this potential implied eye-line as I passed a bar in Spain and quickly took the shot before I was noticed, using just my small holiday snapper. (See the picture of Robert Redford looking down as if he is also reading her menu.)

Implied lines eye line-2-resized
I also include this one as implied eye-line as these two gentlemen are both looking at something out of the picture. They were in fact watching some workmen digging up the road further down the street. Taken using my holiday happy snapper on the Streets of Altea, Spain.

Exercise – Real and Implied triangles

In this exercise I am starting to look at using triangular shapes in composition, both actual and implied.

This image of an obvious triangle is part of an Architectural building design that I photographed in Spain.

Above is a typical type of image that creates an implied triangle from the illusion of prospective, in this case a motorway disappearing in to the distance.

In this example I wanted to create an inverted implied triangular perspective without simply turning a photo upside down. After much thought I decided that I needed a rectangular subject photographed from one of it’s corners, from above it and looking along it’s length from the nearest corner to the furthest to create the illusion of a triangle. I found the solution in a local nursery growing flowers.

In these example below, I have created still lifes using implied triangle with a apex of the triangle at the top.

This time the apex of the triangle is at the bottom of the picture represented by the rosebud of the table cloth, (and this represents a more typical lunch that I can expect!)
For the first still life, I simply used natural light and reflectors however, for the second I used a remote Nikon 910 speed light controlled through ITTL via the camera’s own little built in flash.

I took this photo when walking through a street market in Spain and I saw these three gentleman chatting and immediately noticed a potential implied triangle and was able to capture it before they moved or noticed me. To get this shot I was carrying a small digital holiday snapper which helped to avoid attention and I found it to be quick and discreet to operate in this type of environment.

Exercise – Curves

This exercise follows on from my last project for diagonals and looks at how curves can be used for composition.


In this picture, I have used curves to draw the eye to the subject point, the bell, which I have colour popped to help it stand out.


In this picture, I have used curves to draw the eye through the picture and the cars give added direction.


In this image I came across a convex mirror used for traffic safety and thought that the reflections of the cars that passed the mirror created a nice example of using curves for distorting an image creating an interesting angle of perspective and movement plus an almost 3D depth.


I wanted to find a good example of curves giving an impression of movement and I found it by chance in a lobby of a Hotel in Spain with the curves of the steel bands surrounding this steel statue of a dancer with ribbons. This photo was taken using just a small digital holiday snap-shot camera.

Exercise – Diagonals

In this exercise I have looked at the use of diagonals in composition to create dramatic and interesting compositions and can also create a sense of movement.


This first picture creates a sense of tension and drama by observing this monument from below at an angle. The resulting diagonal image exaggerates the height and also suggests a feeling of vulnerability for the observer.


In this example, I have used the theory of diagonals to lead the viewers eye in to the picture. I thought that This foot bridge was a good choice of locations as it offered both depth and interesting shadow effects.


In this example, I have used the diagonals to draw attention to the subject, Holly, my dog.


In this final example, I have photographed a large scale model of Concorde displayed on a roundabout outside Brooklands Museum. By using the theory of diagonals I have created a sense of drama, as if I have caught an image of Concorde just as it is taking off right in front of me.

Exercise – Horizontal and verticle lines

In this exercise, I looked for subjects that could convey the immediate impression of either horizontal or vertical lines as the theme.

The horizontal lines in this of the pallets is obvious but made interesting by the textures, light and shade and stacking arrangement.  I used a 24mm lens. f/8, 1/125 and I Cropped the picture in tightly and added contract to the image.

This subject I came upon whilst walking my dog, someone had dumped this old timber and I took the photo in landscape using my 55-300 zoom lens at 55mm focal, f/8, 1/160, I then altered the image to portrait and turned it upside down, in Lightroom, to get the effect I wanted.

These flowers were growing in a greenhouse in a Nursery close by, laid out on the floor I could see these horizontal bands of colour which I think make a perfect impression for the theme of horizontal lines. I used my 55-300mm zoom at 220mm focal length, f/10, 1/320, I then added contrast and made some colour adjustments in Lightroom.

The individual rows of flowers in another greenhouse offered up a nice example for vertical lines. I used my 55-300mm zoom, f/4.5, 1/1000, added contrast and adjusted colour in Lightroom.

I took this photo in landscape and tightly cropped the final image and turned it for portrait to get the interesting effect. I used my 50mm lens, f/10, 1/125.

Taken through the end of the bed frame using my 50mm lens, f/5.6, 1/50.

This was an old American car sadly slowly rusting away, someone’s abandoned restoring project and I saw the idea of the lines in the car’s design.

This image is of some industrial plastic trays stacked up that I photographed and tightly cropped and turned 90 degrees in Lightroom, I used a 50mm lens, f/10, 1/160.

Exercise – Multiple points

In this exercise I have built up a small still life using stones as points of interest, starting with one stone then adding more and more stones trying to create patterns whilst trying not to look too obvious.  Patterns can easily be imagined from a small number of points; but as more and more objects are added it becomes more challenging to create a non obvious grouping.

Single stone-resizedSingle stone-resized-a
In this first arrangement I have set my first point parallel to a faint line in the stone base and to draw the eye across the image along the faint line.

Two stones-resizedTwo stones-resized-a

In my second image I have set the second stone parallel to the faint line but on the opposite side.

Three points-resizedThree points-resized-a
With three points patterns start to take shape.

Four points-resizedFour points-resized-a
Making shapes-resizedMaking shapes-resized-aFinal image-resizedFinal image-resized-a
In my final image the pattern got very complicated and open to many interpretations.  I added a piece if venetian glass to add some additional interest.

Exercise – Positioning a point

In this exercise I have put in to practice my lesson on positioning a point of interest in the frame.

In this case I wanted something small surrounded by an unfussy even background.  By using the three typical classes of position, I took three photos of the subject, one in the middle, one off centre and one close to the edge of the frame.


This image works as a snap shot style of photography; but I don’t find that it is particularly interesting from a compositional point of view as the eye would naturally go to the centre of the picture anyway.

Off centre-resized

This composition works much better as the subject appears to be looking into the empty space in the bottom right and therefore gives the empty area a sort of purpose.

Close to the edge-resized

This is my favourite, I chose to take this photo from a different angle as I think that viewing the subject from the same direction that she is facing gives both a sense of sharing her view and creating a feeling of voyeurism, anyway it works.