Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Harvest of 2011 Part Two - Put it in the Middle

Harvest of 2011 links
Introduction - Part One

Harvest of 2011 continues... previous parts are linked just above.

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This time I'll be looking at images where a central motif is key to making the image work, for various reasons. When teaching photography, placing your subject dead centre is often noted as the wrong thing to do, a 'mistake'. I don't agree. Sometimes it is desirable, or essential, to push things around in the frame to balance the image, and sometimes a strong central subject can anchor an image and radiate calm across the composition. 
4330 - Svartvik, Sweden, 2011
This first image is a perfect example of that, and as it is actually one end of an anchor chain, it does seem like a good place to start. This is one of my favourite images from 2011 - the lightweight colours and simple composition form a wonderful balance, but the heaviness of the chain creates a downward tension that means the image never entirely relaxes.

4088 - London, England, 2011
4330 - Svartvik, Sweden, 2011
Two images where the central composition highlights some near perfect symmetry. In 4088 the bollard becomes almost menacing in it's straightforwardness, but the beastly effect is somewhat punctured by the playful wavy crack that plays across the top of the image.

The second image holds a quiet mystery - by documenting tightly, face on, we are left with very little to think about other than the lines and shades that make up the peaceful image. It's abstract, but clearly sourced from a real object, even if the exact nature of it is disguised.
4076 - London, England, 2011
4638 - London, England, 2011
The fierce reds of the two street lights - illuminated or not - should dominate these pictures. For me, however, the light in 4076 is so weak that it seems to diminish the lamp itself, with the two small cables either side bullying it into submission. I think these two photographs are fascinating together - one on white, one on black, creating an entirely different feeling from two superficially very similar objects.
4107 - London, England, 2011

I will often create my own layouts from the various pipes, cables, clips and brackets we see on walls across our urban landscape - perfectly illustrated here. What starts as a very simple image is revealed as a jumble of elements the longer you look. Again, red is in charge - but it's not the circle in the centre, it's the cable along the bottom that steals the show.

4102 - London, England, 2011
And here's another example of applying a rigid compositional structure to a selected and curated piece of street wall. All seems straightforward and in order, but some of the bricks, and particularly the thin white strip, seem to be struggling to stay straight. I do enjoy that slight disorder - as if the green moisture is a kind of infection breaking up the no doubt once clean lines.

4412 - London, England, 2011
A powerful image creating drama from something on a very small scale. The central composition and the tight focus on the back wall helps to give power to this very small light that in reality, illuminates only a single step.

4121 - London, England, 2011
The top two thirds of this picture are so chaotic, that it is almost absurd to try and impose order upon it. However, work
ing centrally helps to keep the image still as it reveals what we are looking at - a wall ravaged and decorated by the drip-drip of pollution. A single cigarette packet becomes our only placeholder for the real world.

This is walked past by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people every day - it's not given a second look. To me, the colours of decay in this small spot are fascinating, and I was proud to capture it.

4258 - Highcliffe, England, 2011

4366 - Hamrafjallet, Sweden, 2011
For these two images, the only thing that matters is the relationship between the two elements. So the composition is pared right down to a kind of visual poetry, to allow them to speak more easily to each other, and allow the viewer to read the relationship clearly.

4609 - East Cowes, England, 2011
More peaceful visual poetry. Benches often crop up in my work, their form is very succinct - so that even set as far off as this one, it's clear what it is.
4436 - Sevenoaks, England, 2011
This is another image where having the motif absolutely central makes perfect sense. Despite the sloping horizon and bouncing cables, the picture remains all about this post in this field, despite the fierce colours elsewhere.

4344 - Klovsjo, Sweden, 2011
Here's another favourite of mine. I love the mystery of this situation - you can bring so much of yourself to the image. The simple shapes are appealing too - the blue rectangle on a triangle on a circle, with the ghost of a tyre track circle in front.

4319 - Sidsjon, Sweden, 2011
4557 - Yarmouth, England, 2011
Sometimes I see my photography as an ongoing sketchbook of images - souvenirs of the world as I see it. Taken as a whole, it can seem a rambling, disjointed series of images. But commonalities do appear. Taken two months apart, these two pictures can be seen as part of just such an emerging series - and one that is particularly relevant here, because the centering of the composition is so important. I don't specifically look to create a repeating theme, they seem to occur naturally. However, once I've noted the occurrence, I do become more aware of subsequent potential images when I see them. 
4278 - Downton, England, 2011
Like some of the other pictures in this part, here I've presented something in a simple, centred manner to create an unusual view - one that hopefully serves to highlight the visual interest in a mundane situation. The pipe has been abstracted to an unfamiliar shape, with the shadow giving it away, and the dust lies in horizontal strips. I'm reluctant to say any more about what you're looking at, but it is an entirely mundane situation.

4283 - Downton, England, 2011
Although my photography is very carefully constructed within the picture frame, I never actually move anything or set anything up to suit the image - that's just not part of my practice. I like to take pictures of what's I see around me, without adding or subtracting anything - to me, that's the appeal. I say this here because this does look like a contrived set up, but it really is just a hose that someone has collected up and left like this for now. As with all the images in this part, it's the centering that gives the photograph it's character, particularly here the 'trunk', if you like, disappearing off the bottom centre. This is a popular image, and it may be because it's feels so bright and positive.

4291 - Lyndhurst, England, 2011
Positioning this piece of architecture centrally in the image means it takes the viewer a little bit of time to work out just what it is. It initially perhaps resembles a traffic island - but this junction is a little different as each side differs from the other for entirely practical reasons. Working together, they control, divide and ferry various elements where two streets meet, managing flow on the way downhill. I love the problem solving nature of it - and I also like how this picture brings together these two materials in the frame with an equal weight.

4358 - Boka Harjedalen, Sweden, 2011
Perhaps the most central image of all on this page - this one really offers no compromise, a strong image created from very little.

4489 - Folkestone, England, 2011
A fitting end - the central motif leading off into the depths. It's a kind of inverted version of the disappearing posts in 4319 and 4557 above, but more out of control in a way. It takes a second look to see if those slanted lines taking the posts off centre are shadows, or something else. And although we are perpendicular to the line of posts, they do trail in from the left, which helps to draw us into the image and out to sea.

In all the images here, composing centrally encourages the viewer to consider the subject  in different ways, depending on the picture content. I hope I've able to explain myself a little, and illustrate that the first and last rule when composing a photograph is - there are no rules!

That's it for Part Two. The Facebook gallery for individual image comments is here, and you can comment below if you want to say anything about the blog post as a whole.

Part Three soon. Thank you for reading! All pictures are available as limited edition prints - click here for details.

Harvest of 2011 links
Introduction - Part One

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