Category Archives: c – Dividing the frame

Positioning the horizon







The above pictures were taken at a viewpoint near West Kingsdown overlooking the Medway valley.  I liked the layers in the shots of both the land (and mist) countered by the steam (smoke?) rising from the industrial complex, and the sky.

By placing the horizon low in the first shot the sky is the main component with just the wisp of smoke at the bottom to indicate there is something else happening.  This is made more obvious in the subsequent shots while the final shot only include a small layer of sky almost indistinguishable from the layers in the actual landscape.

Of the shots above I think the one that works least well is where the horizon is central.  There is no real impact in the shot and there is no progression into the shot for the eye to follow unlike the fourth in the series, my preferred choice, which has a series of layers leading the eye in to the back with the sky taking only a relative small strip of sky which itself is almost two layers with the lighter streaked area at the top.  At the bottom the shot is “anchored” by the hedging.



For this exercise I have chosen initially a random selection of my old photos to illustrate, as far as possible the idea of balance.

SONY DSC        Balance diagram

1.  Old barn at Detling.  This is a favourite of mine as it dominates the horizon from a distance and has a dilapidated look close up.  This distance shot gives prominence to the Barn on the left in contrast to the large area of sky to the left and centre and accentuates its isolation in the landscape.

SONY DSC         Balance diagram2

2.  The old fort at Grain.  Again this fort is the dominant factor with the fairly bland mudflats and sky, but this time the building is nearer the centre of a less panoramic picture than the one above, and I think were it not for the path leading to it this would have made it imbalanced.

SONY DSC       Balance diagram 2

3.  Two flowers.   This one is fairly straightforward as the flowers are nearly identical and roughly equidistant from the centre of the frame.  Worth adding that there is a view (particularly among Camera club judges) that you should normally have an odd number of subjects in a shot.  This works for me though in that the left plant is slightly darker.

SONY DSC         Balance diagram 3

4.  Vulcan at Manston.  The main element here is the plane itself and this is counterbalanced by the vehicle and control tower on the left.  furthermore as all three components are interrelated I think this helps the balance work.

SONY DSC        Balance diagram

5.  Bee approaching flower.  While the flower takes up nearly the whole of the left half of the frame it is counterbalanced by the main subject of the bee, especially, in my view in terms of visual impact.

SONY DSC        Balance diagram 2

6.  Window in deserted dairy.  Again this is straightforward in that the two frames balance each other but also, in terms of composition, the wood fragments on the wall also balance the frame.

SONY DSC           Balance diagram4

7. Old fisherman’s hut at Dungeness.  These shots have probably become a photographic cliché now as you see similar shots all the time. The hut, emphasised by the orange netting, dominates the picture but is counterbalanced, albeit to a degree, by the rail giving a depth to the shot.

SONY DSC           Balance diagram 5

8. Boat at Portree.  The boat is balanced by the open space but over and above both is the background landscape running across the shot.  The effect could have been improved if I had been able to take the shot from higher vantage point so there was a clear delineation between the foreground and the background.

SONY DSC             Balance diagram 6

9.  Old barn at Detling again. The opposite of #1 above but, in addition, to the barn and open sky – left versus right – the yellow of the field and blue of the sky also complement each other.

SONY DSC            Balance diagram 7

10.  Rig off Whitstable coast.  There is a kind of diagonal balance here, as I see it, of the long stretch of people (relative to the shot) to the rig .

In assessing the photos I found some considerably easier to assess the balance than others.  In particular where there is a clear balance, #3 and #6, but not so easy when there is a blank space – as sometimes, not always, that is the dominant part of the picture,  In both the barn shots (#1 and ~9) you can argue that the sky area, though not the immediate thing that catches the eye,  is however the dominant aspect of the shot by virtue of it accentuating how isolated the barn is.  The hardest one for me to consider for this exercise was the Old Grain Fort (#2) and I’m still not sure whether I have got that right as, reconsidering it, there is the view that maybe the pathway is the dominant feature.