Category Archives: 12. Shapes

Real and implied triangles

Real and implied triangles

 Produce two sets of triangular compositions in photographs, one using a ‘real’ triangle, the other making an ‘implied’ triangle.

REAL

A subject which is itself rectangular, or a detail or something larger

A triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.

An inverted triangle, by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame.

IMPLIED

A still-life arrangement of 5-6 objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.

A still-life arrangement of 5-6 objects to produce an inverted triangle with the apex at the bottom.

An arrangement of three people so that their faces or bodies make a triangle.

6 photographs in total

 The course notes describe a shape as both an outline and an enclosure. Shapes can be regular, easily identifiable with a geometric outline, or irregular. The more regular a shape appears, the stronger the part it plays in the composition.

 Triangles are a more common graphic element than any other shape. Freeman (2007, p84) describes the reasons for this as

  •  they are simple to construct or imply, only needing three points in any arrangement other that a straight line
  • the effects of perspective make convergent diagonals common in photography, particularly with a wide-angle lens.
  • They have such a strong shape that it appears easily to the eye. Two lines are often enough, the third can be assumed or replaced by the frame edge.

Triangles are the most basic geometric shape as they have the least number of sides. As an element of design, triangles have the interesting combination of being both dynamic and stable. Dynamic, due to the diagonals and corners, and stable, on condition that one side of the triangle is a level base.

REAL TRIANGLES

A subject, which is itself rectangular, or a detail or something larger.

Triangular roofs, Dubai

Triangular roofs, Dubai

I spotted these triangle shapes on the roof of a hotel on the beach. I climbed stairs on the opposite side of the street to gain some height, allowing the activity of the street to be eliminated, the triangle faces of the roof to be clearly seen and a glimpse of the sea to be seen in the distance. The afternoon sun also cast shadows from the roofing creating soft diagonal shadows on the side of the building. All the triangles in this image have stable bases. I particularly liked the way the base of triangle in the left side of the frame appears to be sitting on the horizon line. The overall effect relays both dynamism and stability.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 6.24.33 PM

triangular roofs

A triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.

triangle by perspective

A natural tendency for linear perspective in for lines to converge on a vanishing point in the distance, forming two sides of a triangle. This can be seen in this photograph, which I took with my wide-angle lens set to 32mm and pointed upwards from the base of the high-rise building towards the top. Two sides of a triangle can be seen as the building contrasts well against the bright sky. The inverted corner detail on the building also creates two side of a further triangle shape, the third side can be assumed.

triangle by convergence

triangle by convergence

An inverted triangle, by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame.

Inverted triangle by convergence

As the course notes suggested, creating a triangle converging towards the bottom of the frame, by perspective, took some thought. After some research and practise, I achieved the task.

I took this photograph from underneath a bridge, which spans Dubai Marina. I pointed my camera upwards with the lens set to 40mm.

Freeman, (2007, p86) notes that this configuration of triangle, with the apex at the bottom, is considered to be less stable, be more aggressive and contain more movement than a triangle with a level base.

inverted triangle by convergence

inverted triangle by convergence

IMPLIED

 A still-life arrangement of 5-6 objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.

Triangular rose arrangement

Triangular rose arrangement

 I decided to arrange flowers for this section of the exercise. I selected small red roses, a clear glass bud vase and a plain white base and background. This simple composition was chosen to ensure that the dark flowers would contrast well against with the neutral background, allowing the triangular shape to be prominent. After some measuring, trimming and arranging I took this photograph, close to a window to use natural light. I placed the triangular flower and petal arrangement in the foreground to add some interest to the composition. However, I used selective focus and an aperture of f/5.3 to ensure the arrangement in the vase was the main point of attention. It was only later, when writing up this exercise that I realised that I could have also ensured that the triangular arrangement in the foreground also had its apex at the top.

A still-life arrangement of 5-6 objects to produce an inverted triangle with the apex at the bottom.

Inverted traingle roses arrangement

Inverted triangle rose arrangement

I decided to continue with the still-life flower theme but varied the arrangement slightly to meet the exercise directions. I again, measured, trimmed and arranged the flowers, this time with the apex of the triangle at the base of the arrangement. I arranged a rose bud and some petals in the background to add interest to the composition, however it was only later that I realised this triangle was also inverted, something I hadn’t done with the first arrangement. Of the two arrangements, I like this one more. Possibly due to the triangular shape being mirrored in the background. Perhaps due to the movement that inverted triangles can bring to a photograph, or maybe due to the framing in this image placing the focus strongly on the arrangement, and shape, of flowers in the vase.

 An arrangement of three people so that their faces or bodies make a triangle.

Golfing triangle

Golfing triangle

 I took this photograph while attending the recent Omega Dubai Classic golf tournament. The bodies of the three golfers create points, which can be connected to create a triangle shape. The inverted, precariously balanced shape holds tension, which I think, reflects the game at play.

implied triangle

implied triangle

Things to consider

  • Consider altering your viewpoint, for instance, lowering the camera or tightening the framing. When planning the shot of the triangular roofs I sought out a higher viewpoint to remove the street activity from my frame.
  • Changing lighting
  • Rearranging the objects in view. In the shot of the inverted triangle under the bridge the overall image could have been stronger had the boats been eliminated. Perhaps by framing the shot vertically I could have achieved this.

Freeman, M. (2007) The Photographer’s Eye. Lewes: ILEX

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