A sequence of composition

The aim of this exercise was for me to think about the practical process of composing an image. The method involved keeping my eye to the camera viewfinder and recording the way I approach and shoot a subject from the point that I first see it, to the final best image.

The exercise ideally asked for a street setting, involving people, however due to the extreme outdoor temperatures at this time of year I decided upon a visit to a local indoor souk. While the souk had only a few visitors on this day, it’s passageways and stalls offered many interesting subjects. I shot 5 series of photographs; the subjects included mannequins, lanterns and a music store. I found looking through the camera’s viewfinder (almost) constantly began to feel more comfortable as I progressed.

Once home, I reviewed the photographs and decided that the most successful series was the last one I shot, probably due the practise previously. This last series was of a pottery stall I spotted at the far end of an arched passageway. I began using my 18-55mm lens to take some overall views.

18mm, f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 800

18mm, f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 800

At this spot I noticed first a bag stall on the right, then further back to the left, the pottery stall. Holding the camera vertically included the high, wooden beamed ceiling in the frame.

Taking a few steps to the right I shot the pottery stall diagonally across the length of the passageway. The stall appears distant so I decided to move closer, shooting the pottery stall alongside a neighbouring stall to try and illustrate the idea of a souk, or market lanes. I tried this from a few different angles.

18mm, F/3.5, ISO 800, 1/60s

18mm, F/3.5, ISO 800, 1/60s

22mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/80s

  I approach the pottery stall and take several shots of the stall as I walked around it.

22mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

24mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/125s

18mm, F/3.5, ISO 800, 1/100s

At this stage I became more aware of the plates and pots the stall was selling. In particular, the pottery on the top of the stall caught my eye as it was displayed in a way which showed the patterns. I decide to focus on these items.

32mm, f/4.8, ISO 800, 1/60s

18mm, F/3.5, ISO 800, 1/60s

With this shot I tried to use the wooden pillars to make a frame within a frame.

I then tried to capture the pottery at an angle which would include some of the surrounding details in the frame, such as carvings, pillars and lanterns.

35mm, F/5, ISO 800. 1/60s

28mm, F/4.5, ISO 800, 1/60s

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

The large pot on the right hand side caught my eye here, as it was more colourful than the others. I decided to focus further on this pot. In order to zoom in to an appropriate range I changed my lens to a 70-300mm.

I took several shots of this pot alongside a few other as follows.

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

I considered ways that I could isolate the pot and decided to focus only on the top of the pot and again where the pattern filled the frame.

300mm, F/5.6, ISO 800, 1/60s

300mm, F/5.6, ISO 800, 1/60s

In the photograph below I was attempting to show the pot (almost) on it’s own. I noticed how the colours and curves of the pot really stood out against the slightly blurred background of the wood features.

70mm, ISO 800mm, F/4, 1/60s

I decided to concentrate on this viewpoint, moving the camera to sharper angles to try and improve the framing.

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/60s

I really liked the way this photograph emphases the colours and shape of the pot but also leads the eye back and across to the high, vaulted arches in the roof. However, overall I decided the photograph below, to be the final best image.

70mm, F/4, ISO 800, 1/80s

My reasons for this are that I like the way the position of the pot in the bottom left of the frame allows space also to show the beam in the top left hand corner of the image.  This beam, together with the shelf the pot is sitting on, provide a frame, of types, within the frame. I also like the light shining through the roof top windows as it allows some of the curved details in the beams to be suggested.

I can definitely see the benefits in carrying out this exercise as I fully appreciate that if I had not been so focused on looking through the viewfinder I would have missed some great shooting opportunities.  Other practical factors that I have realised are that I need more practise using my 70-300mm lens as I find the manual focusing tricky at present. I also found this lens made my camera feel heavy after a while, which also didn’t help with focus, so I should consider carrying my tripod with me for these occasions.

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