Monday, November 26, 2012

Pigs, shadows and symmetry

click photo to enlarge
The low, wood and steel buildings designed for pig-rearing are not the most promising of photographic subjects. At least that would have been my thought prior to passing some of these industrial-looking units the other day. However, on a late November afternoon, with the sun low in the sky, the shadows deep, and the gleaming metal, clean timber and pristine concrete of the recently erected buildings catching my eye, they seemed entirely suitable for a shot or two. It's a truism that good photographs can result from the most unlikely subject because in photography the subject itself is often less important than the way it is presented by the photographer. I don't make any great claims for this pair of images, but perhaps they do, in some small way, serve to illustrate that point.

We passed these buildings twice on our walk as the different position of the shadows indicates. They are two of several sheds arranged in a barracks-like row. I took my photographs from a gap in a hedge next to a footpath, so my room for manoeuvre was limited. The treatment I've applied to both photographs is to increase the contrast to deepen the shadows and thereby emphasise the repeated forms of the buildings. Clearly I've converted one to black and white (and applied the digital equivalent of an orange filter). I also, consciously, took shots that were symmetrical and asymmetrical. For reasons that are rarely clearly articulated photographic advice frequently advocates avoiding symmetrical compositions. My view is that symmetry is fine if the subject is symmetrical but that it rarely works well if artificially introduced by the photographer. Moreover, symmetry in images is rarely mirror-like, and the best "symmetrical" photographs often feature a dissonant note that mars the perfection. Here the shadows interfere with it sufficiently to prevent it mirroring at the central vertical line of symmetry.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: 6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On