Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Remember To Anchor It!

"Pillars of the Community"

Today's image is courtesy of a little jaunt to the grand and expansive campus that is the University of Toronto. We wandered the grounds for a bit while my oldest child auditioned for their music programme. Since I rarely go anywhere without my camera, I was able to grab a couple images of the wonderful and diverse architecture. And today's image caused me to remember a topic I've been thinking about recently.
How are you choosing to anchor your compositions? ARE you choosing to anchor your compositions?

Looking at the pillars in the photograph it's very obvious what I wanted the focal point to be. Those grand and powerful columns leading up into the sky draw me in, with a slightly skewed perspective so I could include further angles in the peak of the rooftop too. This was a tight little area flanked with and surrounded by new, more modern buildings jutting into my line of sight so I had to be very particular. But the key was to make sure that whatever I did, I had one column within the frame spring right up from the corner. It anchors the frame. Not beside the corner. Not from way outside of the frame. But from the corner, giving it the weight it deserved, and the emphasis it needs to lead your eye into the photo and up and around it before it comes back to where you started. I made a conscious effort to anchor it well into the photograph and the composition. In fact, I know that in a final edit, I will flip this image so that it starts from the left side of the frame instead to give it even better prominance.

Here's what has prompted me to visit this topic. I receive requests a lot to visit new photographers pages or flickr streams or websites. And there's a flawed simularity running through many of them when you have a good look. All too often I see images that seem to have no definite subject, or the subject is lost in the surrounding details. In the end the photographs carry no weight. We have a tendancy to pull back, including everything in the shot whether it's nessassary or not, or will manage to fill the frame with something, but neglect to frame it up so that there is a definite point at which we start viewing the photograph. I see crops that aren't drastic enough, and in the end it just looks like they carelessly cut off part of the scene or object by mistake. I've seen compositions that if they had just cropped a little tighter, the perspective would have stood out wonderfully. Find the most powerful or the strongest element, and anchor that sucker! Make sure your composition is intentional!

Of course this all comes down to using leading lines, dynamic shapes, or interesting contrasts to bring importance to one part of your image over the rest of it. It's not hard. But we have to train ourselves to see those elements first, not the actual subject. That's what can prove difficult for the first while. But the results when we do are far more exciting and much more interesting to the viewer.

So there you have it. If you ever wonder why one image is falling flat over another one that seemed to "work" for some reason, make sure you have found an interesting or strong element to anchor the photograph, giving it weight. As DuChemin would say, "What's your intent?"
There's so much more to cover on this topic so be on the lookout for more posts in the near future.
In the meantime, thanks for the ramble today! Have a good one!

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