Art of Photography

Rob Townsend


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Exercise – Real and implied triangles

Brief:

Produce two sets of three triangular compositions, one set using real triangles (actual triangle, triangle formed by perspective, inverted triangle formed by perspective) and one set using implied triangles (still life, still life inverted triangle, three people).

Equipment:

Canon EOS 650D with EF 18-200mm f/3.5 lens and EF 40mm f/2.8 lens.

Results:

Real triangles:

1. Bunting against a clear sky gave a strong ‘real’ triangle shape. The apex pointing down gives a feeling of instability and movement that fits the subject, as bunting moves about in the breeze. The light one against the trees and the darker ones against the sky helps the shapes to stand out.

Real triangle

Real triangle

2. Looking down onto a straight railway track until a train passed under the bridge, I got this shot of the train diminishing into the distance. The triangle doesn’t have a particularly sharp point but another bridge in the distance prevented the triangle narrowing to the horizon. However, I felt it was a strong enough triangular shape to include here. With the wide base, the shape manages to imply solidity whilst simultaneously illustrating the movement with the steep diagonal sides. The diminishing perspective adds a lot of depth to the image. I shot this at the widest angle possible with this lens, 18mm, to emphasise the triangular aspect.

Perspective

Perspective

3. It took me a while to work out how to achieve this effect, but on wandering under a footbridge that I’d been shooting from, it dawned on me that shooting upwards to a long structure like this would provide the inverted triangle that I needed. The feeling I get from looking at this is of something fairly precarious, quite different to the solidity implied by the previous photo. Again, a sense of depth is created from the perspective, and again this was at 18mm to make the most of the triangle formed.

Inverted perspective

Inverted perspective

 

Implied triangles:

4. I tried here to get a triangular shape implied without being too regimented, making it look as if the corks had been thrown haphazardly and somehow managed to fall in a composition that was pleasing to the eye.

Still life

Still life

5. Here I made a conscious decision to make the triangle quite regimented and symmetrical. This brings some order to the image that helps to offset the natural tendency for inverted triangles to look unstable. It draws the eye downwards to the front doll.

Inverted still life

Inverted still life

6. The three heads make a (fairly flat) triangle, and the overall image has a larger triangle formed by the arms. This gives a pleasing balance to the image.

Triple portrait

Triple portrait

 

What I’ve learned:

There are a lot of triangles about, once you start looking for them. In a similar manner to my findings on diagonal lines, I found that they may not be obviously or inherently triangular in form, but choice of angle, perspective, lighting and composition can ‘make’ things triangular. This type of compositional manipulation is fairly new to me, but I think I can see the uses of it. I appreciate the way that an implied triangle can suggest stability and balance, and enclose they key parts of the image in a fairly simple way. I will look for uses of this technique in my photography in future.

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Exercise – Implied lines

Brief:

1. Find and indicate the implied lines in two given photographs
2. Repeat the exercise with three existing photographs of your own
3. Take two new photographs demonstrating (a) an eye-line, and (b) a line that points, or the extension of a line

Equipment:

Canon EOS 650D with EF 18-200mm f/3.5 lens; Leica X1 24mm.

Results:

1. Given images:

corrida

corrida lines

Corrida

Here the dominant implied line is the movement of the bull, followed by the swish of the cape. The head-down stance of the concentrating matador produces an eye-line implied line too.

horses

horses lines

Horses

The diagonal leaning in of the two horses gives a very strong implied line here. The movement of the handler from right to left is perceptible but a little less strong.

2. Existing images:

2012-02-26

beach lines

Beach

The combination of the shade provided by the nearby cliff and the connecting line of the person and the dog produces an implied line from bottom-right to centre-left.

DSC03548

bike lines

Bike

The diagonal angle of the rider coupled with the white line give a strong sense of the direction of travel.

train

train lines

Train

The lines of the train converge on the figure in the background giving a feeling of direction and velocity.

3. New images:

alley

alley lines

Alley

Here the shaft of light coming in from the bottom-left points directly at the figure moving from the background to the foreground.

eyeline

eyeline lines

Eye-line

Even though the eyes are not visible, this over-the-shoulder shot invites the viewer to look at what she is photographing herself, which leads the viewer’s eye to the boats on the other side of the river.

What I’ve learned:

I found this exercise a little more challenging than the previous ones, as I find it easier to identify reasonably obvious lines than implied ones (not surprisingly). So this took a little bit of thinking about and a certain amount of trial and error. However, once I stepped through the first part of the exercise it made the second part easier as it made me look at my own photos in a slightly different way. This in turn gave me a better idea on how to seek out such implied lines for the new images in the third part. Implied lines is not something I naturally look for in images, so I need to add it to the ever-increasing list of things to consider before pressing the shutter! But I have found this exercise interesting and will keep this concept in mind in the future.