It’s time for the Week 2 update of my photographic adventure! This time around, I wasn’t quite as ambitious and took fewer pictures, but being home last week inspired me to go overboard for Week 1! (Fun fact I learned over break: Michael Miley, the first photographer to develop a colour photography technique, lived near my house! So cool!)
Miley’s equipment on display at the Rockbridge Historical Society.
This week I researched aspect ratio (which was reiterated in Thursday’s video lecture) and experimented with different types of photographic frames. All of the images featured in this post, as well as the original versions for comparison, are posted in my Week 2 set. I’d like to mention that there’re a few new additions to my Trial & Error set.
I looked to Paul Comon’s advice for information about aspect ratio and framing photographs.
In terms of aspect ratio, Comon’s main advice is “The camera format and finished print format must agree in terms of aspect ratio.” If the print format and aspect ratio don’t agree, cropping might be required or some of the frame will be left unfilled during printing. In general, I’d say aspect ratio (at least for photography, because I think video will be different) was more of an issue prior to the editing luxuries of advanced digital photography software. Digital photography, however, is not entirely removed from the issues of aspect ratio agreement. Comon reminds readers that you must consider what you plan to use the image for to know what aspect ratio will be most effective for your shot. If, for example, you’ll be cropping a lot of the image away, be sure to leave some margin space in the frame or else some of your subject might be removed in the printing process.
Some commonly used aspect ratios:
Wallet size: 2.25 x 3.25
Ablum size: 3.5 x 5 & 4 x 6
Desk & wall hanging: 5 x 7
Wall display: 8 x 10
Furthermore, the LCD screen on your digital camera (even for expensive SLR’s) may not actually align with what you’re trying to photograph. The only way to correct for this offset is to experiment with your camera’s LCD screen and actual images produced. I thought digicamguides.com (as reference above) was a good resource for aspect ratio examples, particularly since my end products for this week focus more on framing than frame proportions.
The four main types of geometric frames are ovals, circles, squares, and rectangles. To achieve these frames, I had to use Corel Photo Paint to crop my original images to an appropriate shape.
Oval frames are infrequently used in modern photography, but were once commonly used in portrait photography because they focus the viewer’s attention on a central subject. I found that this frame reminds me of vignette effects applied to digital images.
Circular frames, according to Comon, are the most uncommonly used of the four frame shapes because “it takes a masterful artist to create a great image confined to a round frame.” Some of the neatest examples of circular frames, in my opinion, are achieved using fisheye lenses. My circular image of Grey Cat (my neighbors’ willing model!) was created by cropping the subject out of an originally rectangular photo (see my Flickr set).
I reused Grey Cat as my subject for a square frame for comparison. Comon says “If all the vital image elements can be concisely contained in a square without any wasted space in the print area, [square] is the print format of choice.” I personally think the circular frame is more effective for this particular subject because of the cat’s rounded body shape.
Here’s the original rectangular image from which I cropped Grey Cat’s circular and square portraits. The long dimension of the frame is supposed to “determine the mood and image tone,” whereas “a horizontal format denotes peacefulness, repose, and/or sweeping grandeur” (e.g. in landscape photography).
I also wanted to experiment with The Rule of Thirds because, apparently, it’s a fairly elementary photographic technique. Basically, imagine breaking the photographic frame down into nine quadrants. You then align the most important points of your subject with the quadrangles’ central corners, and voilà, you’re using the Rule of Thirds. The technique reminds me of last week’s symmetrical compositions because it seems like a good way to break down complex scenes into more manageable compositions. Because I think it’s a lot easier to picture this concept with an image, here’s a visual:
Note that the focal point of the image coincides with the intersection of four quadrangles. I’ve also mirrored the original square image because it’s supposed to be more effective to place your subject to the upper right than left because we tend to view images the same way we read text (i.e. left to right). (What do you think? I guess the image flipped works better?)
I found a has a nice succinct article at digital-photography-school.com to understand the Rule of Thirds. According to the article, the Rule of Thirds brings balance to a photo and directs the viewer’s attention (“people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points… rather than the center of the shot”.) Apparently, “using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.” For the most part, I’d say this statement is true, but easier said than done! Here’re some of the example I came up with: