Exercise 1.2 Point
The point is the most fundamental design element. It has to be small within the frame and its position is generally more important than its form (see the example of the white polystyrene cup underneath the chair opposite).
(Photography 1: The Art of Photography, p.72)
1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts
of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large
it becomes a shape.)
How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it
right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake
of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that
the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can
evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.
As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the
position of the point by its relationship to the frame.
2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s
in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and
the picture is balanced.
You could think about the two parts of this exercise in a different way, as ‘test
pictures’ versus ‘real pictures’. The only purpose for the test pictures is the
exercise: you can analyse them according to the criteria and get the expected
answer. But ‘real’ pictures are not so easy to analyse. What are the criteria for
‘relationship’? (We’re hoping that you’ll shoot the rest of the exercises in this
course as real pictures, not test pictures!)
As you review your photographs, observe the way your eye ‘scans’ the surface of the
image. Note how:
• a point attracts attention out of proportion to its size
• the eye looks for connections between two points
• placing a point close to the edge seems to animate both the point and the frame.
Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes
over the surface with a pencil. Then try the same with a selection of photographs
from newspapers or magazines (or the example above). You should notice that each
photograph seems to have its own tempo. Add the traced photographs to your
learning log together with brief observations.
1. Below are three points within images whose frame encompasses the whole image.
Image 1: Central
This point is perfectly symmetrical within the image. However with no other points of reference to other elements to guide the eyes it appears somewhat static and lifeless.
Image 2: Off Centre
This image lacks the symmetry of the central point but challenges the eyes to seek balance. Again with no other points of reference to other elements to guide the eye it makes it hard, but this positioning adds a sense of dynamism.
Image 3: Towards The Edge
Further moving the point away from symmetry increases the sense of dynamism and also the effect of apparent movement. This would be further accentuated if the image contained other points of reference.
2. Linking points and their position within the frame.
Image 4: Sheep & Horses
In the above image the eyes and mind seek to join points and to make shapes. It also errs towards grouping items of similar shape, contrast or colour. In the above image the eye groups the two horses as a straight line and the three sheep as a triangle. An additional triangle is also created between the two horses and the closest sheep. The two distant sheep also balance with the horses in the foreground. The sheep also denote depth with the difference in scale between the Sheep in the foreground with those in the distance.
Image 5: A Day By The Beach By Any Means
In this image the eye forms a triangle between the cyclist, the family and the seagull. The image is balanced visually by the cyclist and the family. Also narratively between the push bike and the wheelchair. The offset nature of the seagull adds a dynamic element and draws the eyes upward to the sky.