Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Composition: The Diagonal Method

I am both a bit impressed and a bit shocked about something I just came across and wanted to share it with you. It has to do with the composition of your images. Have a look at the following image because I will come back to it later.


Composition I would say is the art of guiding the viewer through your image --drawing him/her to the interesting points in it. If you have read anything about composition in photography you must have read about the "Rule of Thirds". Imagine any of your pictures and divide it in nine sections of the same size (see fig. 1). This composition rule basically says that you should avoid putting your subject right in the center, instead, you should aim to position it at any of the intersections between the lines you just draw --to make the image more interesting to look at, that is the aim. And if you have a point and shoot camera and always wondered why your frame was divided in nine... now you know!

Fig. 1

Now, I have had this rule in mind for quite some time because I don't always pay attention to it. Rules are meant to be broken right? I mean, sometimes I do believe that a subject looks better right in the centre of the image, or sometimes I consciously put the interest point a tad away from the intersection lines on fig. 1. So what?

Well this is what I found, and even though it is not "scientific" it certainly surprised me. It has to do with aesthetics and Edwin Westhoff developed a method of composition that, he argues, gives better results than the rule of thirds. He called it "The Diagonal Method". He noticed that many images from master photographers and indeed many famous paintings did not followed the "rule of thirds" precisely. He also noticed that many of those images rather followed another composition logic related to the "Golden Section" --yes, you have heard of it before "The Divine Proportion", Leonardo Da Vinci, etc. Follow the link if you are interested in a full explanation, for the purposes of this post suffice to say that Edwin devised the "The Diagonal Method" around that logic and came up with the following way of dividing the frame: imagining two overlapping squares and drawing diagonal lines across them (see fig. 2).
Fig. 2

You guessed right, interest points are intended to be over any of the diagonals. And IT REALLY WORKS!!! So much actually that Adobe included the Diagonal Method in Lightroom!!

Remember the image at the top? well I did some serious cropping without knowing this technique, I even used a different ratio (1.85:1) than the ones I normally use (6x4, 6x6) and IT TOTALLY MATCHES WITH THE DIAGONALS!! check the next image with the diagonals included:

As you can see, one of the diagonals crosses the eye perfectly and another comes in between the feet of the model!! which are the things I intended you to look at. I was totally freaked impressed and decided to check some of my other recent images. Obviously it doesn't fit EVERY image but still... it works fairly often!!

See more images after the Jump. And trust me, I cropped them before knowing this Golden Section logic and they match either perfectly or within a couple of mm.


Not perfect but very close!

Bang on:

One last one:

So maybe we do like those proportions. You don't have to know much of aesthetics but normally you do know what you like and what you don't. Give it a try and see if you images are more pleasing this way.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

El Modo Manual -- No muerde ;)

I will try to translate this some other time, but since I wrote this in Spanish for a friend... well you understand.

Bruges Windmill

Este era un comentario que hice en el blog de Areli y que me parecio se podia convertir en un post aqui ya que quedo bastante informativo, creo yo.

El problema de las camaras digitales es que cuando el flash esta activado tratan de irse a su zona de confort que se encuentra en 1/60 y f4.5 no es cierto? Ahi les dijo su mama que tenian que vivir. Lo malo es que esto hace que la gente se vea como venado lampareado y el fondo todo negro! (not nice). En la imagen abajo de estas lineas se puede ver un ejemplo. El fondo se supone que es un bar aqui en Manchester del que no podemos ver nada.

Photo Head - The missing one

Si tu camara tiene funciones manuales hay que perderle el miedo y hacer lo sigueinte:

1) En alguno de los modos automaticos (ie Auto o P) desactiva el flash y toma una lectura del ambiente (el fondo). Si es tardecito pero aun hay luz te va a dar una lectura como de 1/30 o 1/15. La verdad es que no podemos sostener la camara a esa velocidad (1/15) sin que haya movimiento pero por el momento no importa.

2) Cambia al modo manual y pon la misma lectura que te dio la camara y activa tu flash. Digamos que te dio 1/30 a f4.5. Deja la velocidad pero aumenta (realmente estas disminuyendo pero ignoremos eso tambien) la apertura digamos a f6 o incluso f8. Dispara.

3) La velocidad (ie. 1/30) va a controlar el fondo de la imagen y la f (apertura) a la gente que quieres retratar. Si la gente esta muy brillosa incrementa el numero de la f, si esta muy obscura disminuye el numero. Tambien puedes aumentar y disminuir la potencia del flash. En tu manual (si, eso existe) debe venir como "flash compensation" o algo asi.

4) Decia que no importa que pongas la camara en 1/30 (con practica incluso a 1/15) porque el flash va a hacer que la gente salga en foco (sin moverse). El fondo se va a mover un poco pero a 1/30 no se nota tanto. Mas vale tener un fondo interesante que algo todo negro, no? Ademas recuerda que si tuvieras luz suficiente al enfocar a tus amigos el fondo sale un poco borroso de cualquier forma (esto se debe a la profundidad de campo y se le llama bokeh y puede ser muy interesante). Tambien puedes recargarte en alguna pared, usar un poste o una botella como tripie para evitar el movimiento.

Si ponen atencion a la primer foto (la del molino) pueden ver que tanto el cielo como la modelo --mi esposa ;¬)-- tienen suficiente detalle. Esto no seria posible sin usar el flash y balancearlo con el ambiente. Espero les guste.

Ahora a practicar y estoy a sus ordenes ante cualquier pregunta. Si algo no esta claro avisenme y lo puedo tratar de explicar mejor.



Friday, 17 July 2009

My Blue Period!!

Hi, sorry for leaving you so alone and unattended, I will try to write more often, but the truth is that I've been writing enough with the thesis. Not sure yet if that is going well or not, we'll have to wait a couple of weeks to know for sure.

Anyway, today I finally took some time off in order to get around some images I took a while back. On the 27th July, a friend put together a photoshoot in a fancy studio and she invited me. BTW if you live in Manchester and need a nice photostudio then consider this one, we had a blast!!

While going through the images I noticed that lately I've been going for dark and edgy, maybe that is how I feel right now! --not very bright-- and specially liked this set of images, maybe I'm entering a "Blue Period"


The name of the model is Jessica, and she was really good. First time we worked together and I definitely will call her again. Here I was using big lights but you could do the same with speedlites (small flashes). Or if you don't have that, a pair of work lights from B&Q will do the trick. I used one light at each side, the one on the left was brighter (about two stops) and I was not using a hairlight.

Here is another image of Jessica:


She had that interesting tattoo of a star and I tried to make it pop a little.

Here another image, now for the ladies, his name is Luciano and it was my first time working with male models. I have to say that Girls are more fun!! ;¬)

Luc - Box

Hit the jump for more images.


As you can see, the theme of the shoot (at least this part) was some boxing-fighting stuff, hope you like it.

Million Dollar Baby - Jessica



On that day, we had more models and very cool make-up. I will try to post more soon!! so come back.