Exercise 1.2 – Point (Part 2)

I find the brief to part 2 is unclear. Although the words and the sentence structure are English, I have trouble extracting any meaning without importing extra words, or ascribing special meanings to “place” and “in relationship”. The best meaning that I can extract is to say that a point is “in relationship” to its frame if you can place another point in any part of the frame. Therefore, I will look at the placing of two points.

Two dominant points in the frame create a dimension of distance, a measurement of part of the frame. … The eye is induced to move from one point to another and back, so there is always an implied line connecting the points. This line is the most important dynamic in a two-point image; being a line, it has a relationship with the horizontals and verticals of the frame and it also has direction. The direction of the line depends on a variety of factors, but it will tend to be from the stronger to the weaker point, and towards the point that is close to an edge (Freeman 2007:70)

All the images in this exercise start with a single point, near the bottom-right intersection of thirds

A second blue point is added, in semi-random positions. The following images explore the relationship between points at varying distances apart.

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Where the points are close together (first image) it is possible to see them as a group or shape, with its own relationship to the frame. Where further apart, there is an implied line between them, as discussed by Freeman. The two images with the blue point above and left of the red feel more comfortable than that with the blue point to the top right and the implied line heading out of the frame.

It is also possible to think of the points and frame as “controlling space” in the same way as two stones in a game of Go. There is a balance to be struck between the strength of control (closer is stronger) and the amount of space controlled.

The images below explore Freeman’s concept of a relationship with the horizontals and verticals of the frame.

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With the points arranged vertically, there is less sense of controlling space than in the previous images (where the points marked the diagonal of an implied rectangle) but a much stronger line, parallel with the edge of the frame.

Reference, Freeman, M (2007) The Photographer’s Eye. Lewes: Ilex Press

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Exercise 1.2 – Point (part 1)

Three images, placing a point within the frame.

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With the point placed centrally, I fixate on it and feel no need to explore the rest of the image. This is essentially static.

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With the point placed off-centre, my attention is drawn to it but I periodically find myself exploring the rest of the image before returning to the point.

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With the point placed near the edge, I get an uneasy feeling that it is about to leave the frame, or fall off the edge (this may be because I used the right edge – a point on the left edge may have just entered, according to the Western left-to-right reading convention). I occasionally look at the rest of the frame but have to return to the point in case it disappears.

The same two elements, point and frame, in three images generate three different reactions. I do not regard any placement of the point as more “correct” than any other – what matters is the reaction that the photographer wants to evoke in the viewer.

The central placement draws full attention to the subject, which would be appropriate to a record or catalogue image. Feeling “static” is also no bad thing if we want to evoke a feeling of stability or serenity. A central placement would also work for a symmetrical subject (such as a reflection) if the intention is to emphasise that symmetry.

The off-centre placement is a more conventional composition device. It allows us to explore the frame at our own pace, then return to the main subject. When dealing with a shape that has a definite direction of movement (e.g. a vehicle or animal viewed side-on) we get the traditional “space to move into”

The extreme placement may be appropriate if the photographer wants to evoke feelings of insecurity, isolation or peril.

Supplementary:

Michael Freeman reaches similar conclusions in ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ (Freeman 2007:66):

Central point, “Static and usually dull”

Slightly off-centre, “Moderately dynamic, without being extreme”

Close to the edge, “Markedly eccentric, needing some justification”

Reference, Freeman, M (2007) The Photographer’s Eye. Lewes: Ilex Press