Lesson 1: Beauty and the beast

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    I found this strange piece of art at home. It turned out to be my 3 year old son who had created the masterpiece. In his mind, it was just a tower…but when I got in close I saw the potential in the colors and pattern. The only editing done is some added saturation on the red parts and a slight vignette.

    Hope you enjoy it.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great work on this assignment.

    Essentially what we wanted to see from you with this project was for you to transform an otherwise ordinary natural environment into something with a stronger sense of design. We wanted to see you recognize naturally occurring design elements such as pattern, line, shape, texture, framing, movement, depth etc.

    You’ve done a great job of this. However, it’s important to examine your “beast” image closely because this will allow you to analyze the differences between the compositions in a more detailed and constructive manner.

    For example, look at the difference in framing from an organizational standpoint. Specifically, look at the edges of your frame. When you look at an image you should be able to identify a story. Both primary and secondary objects need to work together to support that story. Let’s take a look at your beast image for a moment. Notice the artwork on the wall, the window, the amputated objects on the left side of the frame, the trees outside, the box, the candle holder…. How do these things relate to one another?

    The main object is placed in the center of the frame to inform the audience that it is the primary object of interest, but there seems to be very little relevance or interaction between this primary object and your secondary objects.

    In your 2nd photograph however, this mistake has been corrected through the process of simplification. Now I want to point out something that a lot of photographers do which is not always necessary (but also not wrong). They (and you have done this in this photograph) move in close to your object in a quest to control balance, composition, framing, color and focus. This is a great way to start out. I once heard a photographer say “start with fingernails and nostrils and work your way out from there”. His point was that you should learn composition and lighting in smaller environments before venturing out into larger environments as it’s easier to control your lighting and composition. That being said, the same principals apply to both small space and large space.

    In your case for example, your main design elements are texture, pattern, shape and you’ve successfully managed to control your color palette using gradients of black, white and red. However, these design elements can also be found in larger environments. For example look at the following photograph:


    Notice the sense of depth (strong foreground element), line (railings) and great color control. In fact the image is almost monochromatic with only a small “warm” highlight in the background (sun).

    The point being, as you become braver with your technical abilities take the time to look at space differently. Work on finding larger geographic spaces to explore while keeping in mind the design attributes of your smaller space photographs.

    You’re off to a great start! I look forward to seeing your next assignment!

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