Exploring The Basics Of Photography Part III

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If you've been around these part a little while or you're a new comer, over the past few months I've been putting together a few posts on some of the key aspects within photography which happen to be my most loved aspects, exploring as much as possible without the waffle. This mini series could be for those who are just starting out in the subject or those who simply want a refresh. The first segment broke down the elements such as ISO, shutter speed and aperture (found here) whilst the second looks at different types of lighting and some of the key angles used in photographic work (found here). This post is concerned with the basic conventions and elements behind every shot. What are your favourite features or concepts of photography?


Whether it's an online or a physical image that you hold in your hand, the fact is it can seem flat and unappealing so the idea of texture is an important one, it encourages a sense of tactility to any observer - like you want to reach out and touch the subject matter. The texture involves some kind of detailed surface even if they may seem like slight irregularities like the grain within a piece of wood or the knit of an item of clothing or fabric. 

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Something that can be a little confusing is that many of these elements either seem into easily interlock with each other and can overlap with their actual purpose however Form works particularly well with Texture. Form or alternatively known as Depth is a design element that allows you to create an idea of 3D within a photograph, it can be made be cleverly using angles, framing and focus (or depth of field) you choose. It can often involve zooming in on a specific part of the intended object so it is clear whilst other parts are blurry and unclear, this can be exaggerated by your choice of depth of field and a smaller f.stop number like 5.6 would help with this. You could easily use framing as it involves identifying an obvious foreground subject close to the camera, with the main object of the photograph further away - this could also be created by shooting through something as it plays with scale and depth.


What makes a great image isn't always dependent on colour as some of the greatest images are black and white but as a creative a choice in what colour you use is important as it affects the mood of an image and can be a significant factor in how we feel or perceive things on an emotional level. The study of colour and what each shade or tone represents can influence the whole atmosphere and what you're trying to say to a potential audience, making those emotional connections with others is essential as it get's them interested plus it's one of the easiest tools in your arsenal to manipulate. For a broad stroke of an example if you want to create a gloomy more serious image but incorporate colours that are more associated with happiness it can establish something discombobulating that doesn't quite sit right and your message may not get across as effectively as you wish. Pastels, neon, rainbow, stark, soft - different shades and tones of colour all impact how the audience link to your work. The topic of colour is a big one possibly far bigger than 1 blog post but going with your gut and practice can refine your skill in how to use colour to your best advantage can evolve your style sensibilities no end over time. 


This is an element that could be easily overlooked as it is such an obvious design aspect but line is something that governs a lot of what we do, come across and what are attracted to in terms of aesthetics. Line in this instance is usually defined as something that outlines the objects within your imagery but they also essential in guiding the viewer through your photograph and often the more 'interesting' line can real grab the audience's attention. Lines can be great as different shapes can convey unique moods, horizontal lines can be used for an idea of stability, vertical lines can be used for ideas of power, growth and strength whilst diagonal lines can create ideas of action. Leading lines is a big factor in terms of design for example the use of employing a windy path throughout your image is an easy way to draw the eyes across your image but it's important to note if it's direction is noticeable i.e. left to right it naturally fits as that's how we in more western cultures read meaning right to left doesn't quite compute but that not may be true of all images and people.

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In trying to describe photography at its most basic level it is the 'capture of light' although many art genres seem to do the same photographers physically use a device to physically use the light that goes through the camera. There are so many different types of light which can be influenced by weather, time of day or time of the year even other physical characteristics (e.g. studio, flash, natural). Light is a wonderful thing and understanding how it works or how you can manipulate it can easily be applied to what mood you want to portray in your work. Your camera can be a confusing beast and even seasoned professionals can't get it right 100% of the time but using the triangle of aperture, shutter speed and depth of field you can control how much light goes into your device. Key things to look out for are the level of light and its angle, for example the sun is a great source of light but its direction can influence how you catch it as it is the most temperamental. The level of light in a photograph affects the level of detail visible in light or dark areas in the photograph: if the camera is exposed to a high level of light shaded areas will seem darker. The angle of light refers to the location of the original source of light in the photograph and determines the distribution of shadows in the photograph.

Patterns & Shape

Without thinking our brilliant brains can automatically breakdown objects into shapes or patterns, they can be pleasing to the eye and draw in a potential audience or depending on how they're photographed they could seem a little odd. These elements can be further expanded into rhythm (a repetition within the image) , symmetry (where is looks as if it consists of 2 objects that seem to mirror each other) and triangles (uses diagonal lines). This is links really well with Texture and Form, it can genuinely bring something new to the table.


For me, composition is an aspect of photography that encompasses a lot if not nearly all design elements - when constructing an image this takes into account all those big and little considerations that can make or break a photograph. Every decision be it a pose, type of light, depth of field, shadows, makeup and props all makes an impact on how you want others to see your work, how you arrange your creation is very . Most folks generally agree that what makes an image work is when it feels balanced however not every photographer strives for this and some purposely try to make the audience feel uneasy just to get the reaction or the attention they want. What constitutes a good composition can be dependent on many factors including what you're actually shooting but a general artistic convention is the rule of thirds, which involves dividing your photographic frame into 9 equally sized sections using 2 vertical and horizontal lines - most modern cameras have this kind of function built in that you can take advantage of so you don't have to imagine this grid every time. Most photographers then use this to align their subject matter with the lines or at the points of intersection to create the greatest effect possible. 

What are your favourite elements of design in photography?

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