Thursday, 13 May 2010

Assignment 2 - Elements of Design

It's taken me longer than planned to get this done. I lost a few weekends due to bad weather and have been distracted by other photography assignments, but I'm back on track now!
My chosen subject is 'the natural world'. I didn't want to take any images of buildings and other man-made structures as I took quite a few of these during the exercises, and wanted to try something different.

Produce at least 10 photographs, all of a similar subject, which between them will show the following effects:

  • Single point dominating the composition
  • Two points
  • Several points in a deliberate shape
  • A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • Diagonals
  • Curves
  • Distinct, even irregular, shapes
  • At least two kinds of implied triangle
  • Rhythm
  • Pattern

Single point dominating the composition

My first attempt at this was a picture of a buttercup in a grassy field. For some reason, the image wasn't really working for me, and seemed a little static. I came across these birds at the boating lake of a local park and immediately liked what I saw. There were several pigeons, geese and brown ducks by the lake, but just a solitary white duck, which really stood out. I spent quite a while taking shots from different angles as the birds moved around each other, but I think I prefer this image. I like the way the pigeons have almost formed an orderly queue behind the duck.

Two points

I tried to line these plants up so at least one of them was on a third. I then experimented with depth of field. I opted for this image because I didn't want them both in focus, but then again, I didn't want the furthest plant to be completely blurred.

Several points in a deliberate shape

I spotted this plant and like the way the flowers grow from one central point. It was quite tricky to photograph. Firstly, because there were so many of them growing, I had to search for an isolated cluster to focus on in order to get a cleaner background. Then I had to push the ISO to 500 to get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze them because they were so delicate, the slightest breeze created alot of blur.

A combination of vertical and horizontal lines

I spotted these reeds surrounding a pond. I took this while sitting on a nearby bench so that the camera would  be level with them because this angle emphasizes the way the reeds criss-cross. I zoomed in to eliminate the sky, but kept the small fence and a bit of grass to give the image some context rather than make it into an abstract.


This was taken at London Zoo this morning. I was standing on an observation platform which is about the same height as the giraffes, and took some random shots before this opportunity came along. I waited for the smallest giraffe to just about enter the doorway so that they would not be in a straight line. The doors also form a diagonal line although I only noticed this afterwards because I was trying to ignore the building.


I always end up taking pictures of the pelicans at London Zoo and no two pictures are ever the same. It pays to be patient where they are concerned because, at some point each of them will get up in turn, stretch and walk around. Initially these birds were in a line, and I thought I had another 'diagonal line' shot. But then five of them settled in a circle and the sixth bird walked to the centre and that's when I got this shot.
Not only do the seated birds form a curve, but the one that is standing is displaying curves using the shape of its head and wings.

Distinct Shape

I initially saw this as a representing curves. But on closer examination, I noticed that this pelican had created an irregular shape with its bill - almost elliptical, but not quite. I cropped the image to remove a third bird from the top section.

Implied triangle 1

This was taken in Regent's Park this morning. I wanted to shoot these flowers from this angle because of the unusual patterns in the centre. I cropped to remove other flowers and I opted for a square crop because it seemed to work better than the standard rectangle.

Implied triangle 2

This was taken in Finsbury Park yesterday afternoon. It was taken quite quickly to avoid other ducks and pigeons that subsequently got in the way. I preferred a square crop for this image too. 


This was taken with a macro lens that I very rarely use. The camera was mounted on a tripod in diffused window light, in the late afternoon. There was a marked contrast between the two sides of this plant, so I used my flashgun off-camera, above and to the right, with a diffusion dome to balance the light.
I think the curves and semi-repetitive pattern lead the eye through the image and that's what creates rhythm.


Another shot with the macro lens. This was taken in diffused window light, about mid-morning. Although the curves create movement, there is no 'set path' for the eye to travel which disrupts any potential rhythm.
I wanted to focus on the petals of this lovely flower, rather than the centre which was bright yellow, so I zoomed in on this part of the flower (the image has not been cropped). There is a slight colour cast at the bottom edge caused by light reflected from the yellow centre, but I still like it.

What have I learned?
The basic elements of design now jump out at me from every image I see. I think that being able to recognise these components helps me to appreciate what makes a picture aesthetically pleasing. This is particularly true of minimalist art. In the absence of an obvious subject, there will always be combinations of lines, shapes, patterns and rhythms. Interesting stuff!


  1. Really enjoyed your assigment set, there is some excellent work. The diagonal giraffe photo is genius!

  2. Thank you. Feedback from fellow students is much-appreciated!