Monday, February 10, 2014

Photography, rejection and composition

click photo to enlarge
A large part of photography involves rejection. I'm not thinking of the way your output may be received by others, though rejection by an audience figures with photographs just as much as it does in any artistic or craft undertaking. No, in this instance I'm thinking of the rejection of that which is not needed to tell the picture's story.

When I come to compose a photograph I find that my mind either concentrates on including the parts that I want, or, more frequently, focuses on eliminating those aspects that are not required so that I am left with only the desired elements. Rejection, it has always seemed to me is more important in photography than addition. In painting it is the other way round: the blank canvas is built into the final work by addition after addition.

However, there are times when, even though you've included all you want and rejected all that you don't want, there is a case for refining down further still. That's because, sometimes, a part is more expressive of the whole than is the whole itself.

It was that thought that came to mind when I was photographing Church Lane in Ledbury, Herefordshire, the other day. This narrow, medieval and later street, with the old church at the end, is a fine photographic subject. However, each time I looked at my shot of the cobbled alley, the timber-framed buildings and the stone tower and spire on the camera screen I was less than satisfied with the outcome. After pondering the matter for a while I decided that this was because the essence of what makes the view interesting wasn't coming through in the image. So, as I passed by the location the next day, I switched the focal length from 28mm to 100mm, walked well into the lane, and concentrated my attention on the upper part of some near buildings and just part of the culminating tower and spire. The outcome is more agreeable to me than the wider (though still narrow) vista, though I'm sure there will be those who don't agree with that judgement.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On