Lesson 1: Assignment

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    I worked on a window in my flat.



    Duncan Rawlinson

    Very interesting first assignment Tadahiro.

    First of all, sorry for our own late reply. We are doing some mock ups for a new student community design so we’ve fallen a little behind in grading.

    Okay, so let’s take a look at your first assignment. Essentially, you’ve transformed a photograph of a window without any clear sense of focus into a photograph that analyzes the textured details of just one small piece of the window.

    I’m not exactly sure what the object is (a lock?), but that’s not relevant for this assignment anyways. Let’s start by looking at your first photograph (beast) and analyzing what weakens its composition

    For starters the composition is fairly flat. There is very little sense of depth (i.e. foreground, middle ground or background). Don’t’ forget that photography is a 2 dimensional medium and you need to create the illusion of a third dimension through the use of perspective and shadow.

    While it’s true that we can see the trees outside of the window, it’s difficult to see their positioning. The lighting is also fairly flat which makes everything (both in the interior and the exterior) look as though it’s clumped into your middle ground. That being said I do see quite a bit of potential in this shot.

    I feel you could have made this composition come to life by focusing on cleaning up of a few details and focusing on only 1 or 2 design elements. For starters the shapes within the composition lend themselves well to creating a photograph that uses a strong sense of symmetry. What about fixing the curtains and maybe hanging them in a more interesting way (i.e. pull them back in the middle)?

    I would also consider using some gentle side lighting to help bring out the texture and shadows in the curtains. Next I would recommend framing the shot in a way that takes the naturally occurring symmetry of the shot into consideration. Ensure your space is balanced on the top, bottom, left and right.

    The environment has a fantastic naturally occurring color palette of greens, bluey-greys and whites. This simplified color palette would help you to create a strong and focused composition.

    However, instead of doing that, you’ve chosen instead to change your perspective and focus on a small object within the window. Essentially you’ve made the changes I outlined above (i.e. simplify your color palette, focus on balance, and create a strong sense of symmetry), but you’ve done this in a smaller geographic space.

    As you’re starting out you’ll find your drawn towards this idea of organizing smaller spaces. There is nothing wrong with this, but as you progress through the course I want you to keep your eyes open for natural environments that have strong design elements naturally occurring within the space. It’s great to learn about design by focusing on macro photography (as many of the principles are the same in the photography of larger spaces), but you’ll soon feel limited if you don’t break free from small spaces. But as I mentioned before, it’s a great way to learn. In fact, there is a phrase I heard recently from a cinematographer talking to his students. He said “start with teeth and fingernails and work your way out from there”.

    In landscape photographs you can often find color simplicity in massive environments. For example look at the following photograph.


    Notice the simplified color palette of gradient of blue with an orange highlight. Also notice the strong use of a leading line (to be discussed in an upcoming lecture) that helps provide a strong foreground object and guide your eye into the composition.

    Or maybe you’ll be able to find interiors with interesting design elements. Such as:


    Again, notice the creative use of shape and line (i.e. the staircase), the simplified color palette of the rusty oranges contrasted with the vibrant blue. Also notice the interesting shapes, lines and texture in the doorway.

    You’ll will learn more about these design elements in upcoming lessons. But for now, it’s important to think about organization. It’s wise to start with small space (like you’ve done), and as you get more confident start moving your camera back and looking for the same design elements in larger environments.

    Thank you for submitting your first assignment. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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