Monday, 27 December 2010

Research: Henri Cartier-Bresson

"If I have seen farther than others,
it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants."
-Isaac Newton-

Where do you start with someone like Henri Cartier-Bresson? Legend in the world of photojournalism, founder member of Magnum, and arguably one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. You could almost call him a...giant of the industry! See, you just thought that was a random quote didn't you?

By the way, for the sake of brevity, I'm going to do what a lot of others seem to do, and refer to Henri Cartier-Bresson as HCB from now on, so don't get confused.

Call me conventional, but I think the best place to start is probably the HCB was born on the 22nd of August 1908, in Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne. Although he was born in Chanteloup, his family were wealthy industrialists and merchants, so he actually lived in Paris throughout his childhood. Despite the protestations of his father, and regardless of the security his family's wealth offered, HCB decided he wanted to pursue a career in art. Like a lot of people who went on to become accomplished photographers, his initial forays in to the art world were through painting. His uncle was a painter, so he'd developed a passion for painting at an early age, a passion which continued for the rest of his life, and one he would eventually return to when he retired from professional photography. After leaving standard education he enrolled in an art school and was tutored by the french cubist painter Andre Lhote. Even though he loved painting and clearly had a natural aptitude for it, he began to feel he couldn't express himself properly through this medium, so started to look around for other forms. He'd dabbled in photography for a number of years, but it would take a disastrous affair, and a near fatal trip to the Ivory Coast to shift his focus (no pun intended.) After contracting a tropical disease in Africa, HCB was forced to return to France to convalesce. Whilst recuperating, he came across a photograph by Martin Munkacsi:

Three boys at Lake Tanganyika, By Martin Munkacsi

HCB said: "I couldn't believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out in to the street."

While we're talking about cameras, I'll mention another great thing about HCB (at least from a research point of view.) His use of equipment. Whereas some of the other photographers I've talked about change equipment seemingly on a whim, flitting between brands like an indecisive kid in a sweet shop. He started with a Leica, he always used a Leica, and if it wasn't for the minor inconvenience of being dead, would still be using a Leica. This is great! It means I don't have to scroll through hundreds of websites, scour dozens of books, and offer the occasional sexual favour to archivist's, just to find out what particular camera he used for a picture. I can actually get on with reading about photography. Unless he was taking a landscape he almost always used a 50mm lens as well...Thank you! So why did HCB like the Leica so much? Unobtrusiveness! As one of the first successful 35mm cameras, they are a lot more inconspicuous than the larger format cameras prevalent at the time, add to this the fact he often covered them with black tape to make them even less obvious and he could snap away in the street with alacrity. Another thing that helped him remain unseen was his refusal to use flash of any kind, he felt you should use the lighting available, or you weren't being respectful to the process.

Blimey, I've been rabbiting on for ages and I haven't even shown you a single HCB picture yet! Do they really expect you to do these things in only 150 words? Ok, lets try and focus a bit.

Brie, By Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1968

I'll get round to his street photography in a minute, but first I wanted to share a landscape shot that I like. Taken in 1968, this picture shows an avenue of plane trees (that's what they're called it's not a spelling mistake), in Chanteloup-Brie. Apart from the fact it's a nice landscape photograph, it's the strangeness of this picture that really appeals to me. Who planted a carefully regimented avenue of trees in an otherwise featureless landscape? Where do they lead?

I'm never quite sure how to talk about composition without seeming like I'm just repeating the same things I've said before, so if I do, I apologise in advance. HCB has composed the picture so that the the road acts as a leading line, naturally drawing the eye towards the trees, before continuing on through the avenue and in to the distance. By placing the foreground in the bottom third of the photograph he's used the empty sky to further enhance the sense of isolation the viewer feels when looking at the trees. Finally, and this could be similar to a Rorschach test and say more about me than I'd like to reveal, but he seems to have positioned his camera so that the foliage forms a heart shape. I'm sure I could extemporise at this point about how this is representative of the love he feels for the place of his birth, and all sorts of other nonsense, but I think he probably just liked the shape they formed.

Derriere La Gare De Saint-Lazare, By Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1932

As it's name suggests, this picture was taken behind the St-Lazare station in Paris. HCB always firmly believed in the idea of the decisive moment. A point at which the perfect picture exists, press the shutter a few seconds either side of this moment and you might still get a good picture, but you'll fail to capture the true essence of the situation. The above photo is a brilliant example of this concept. Whilst on one of his frequent forays around the city, he happened to look through a broken fence at the back of the station, and saw this man making his way across the area. Taking out his trusty Leica, he quickly took a shot and the resulting photo would become one of the most famous and lauded of his career.

HCB was always slightly bemused by the reception this photograph received, as far as he was concerned he was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. There was no great thought process involved, he just snapped off a quick shot and it came out well. Having researched the picture, I can understand the frustration he felt when people over analyzed his photos. I've read no end of essays saying that he deliberately composed the photo so that the leaping man could be compared to the poster of the circus acrobat in the background, or that the reflection represents the duality of man. All these people seem to forget however, that HCB himself has said the composition of the picture was dictated by the width of the hole in the fence: "The space between the planks was not entirely wide enough for my lens, which is the reason the picture is cut off on the left."

During the 1930's HCB was being heavily influenced by his friends in the emerging surrealist movement, and was primarily concerned with using the camera to represent the concept of motion. I don't know whether it was deliberate, or not, but he's achieved that desire with this picture. It's possible this is all due to the film speed he was using, or the level of ambient light available at the time, but when taking the picture he used a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the subject mid leap, but one that's slow enough to blur his features, therefore retaining a sense of forward momentum. The ISO of the film is also responsible for the graining present on the photograph. I don't think this is detrimental to the picture though, in fact, given the obsession with perfection many people struggle with in modern photography I like the extra level of texture it adds. The other obvious element in the composition is his use of the water to reflect the background and main subject. Whilst I can't claim to read huge meaning in to this, I do think it's a really clever use of the available surroundings to add an extra element of interest to the picture.

In The Old Town. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1966,
By Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a shameless, and extremely tenuous attempt to make this post almost seem relevant, I'll quickly talk about the way HCB presented his pictures. He never staged a photo, like using artificial light, he always felt that a photographer should create as real a representation of the situation as possible. As an extension of this idea, he always refused to crop or modify his pictures in anyway. He very rarely printed his own photos, preferring to let other people handle the day to day tasks of his work. I think this is one of the reasons he felt uncomfortable with the level of fame he achieved. He didn't see photography as a great art form, simply a way to capture his surroundings:

"Photography is nothing, it's life that interests me."
-Henri Cartier-Bresson-

I think this quote is the best way of summing up HCB's approach to photography. Regardless of his talent and his decades in the business, it was the interaction between people that he found so fascinating, the minutiae of everyday life that kept drawing him back in. I think ultimately, this is why he found it relatively easy to walk away from photography, he felt he'd said everything he needed to say, so returned to his first love...painting.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

I'm sure nobody will read this until it's all over, but just wanted to wish everyone a merry christmas:)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Research: Tom Hunter

 "Publish and be damned!"
-Duke of Wellington-

Being a well raised young man (or at least pretending to be), where possible, I've tried to get permission from the respective photographers I've researched to use their photographs. However, as time marches inexorably toward the end of the course and the panic begins to set in, I've decided to cast my scruples aside and just plow on with things. Should this result in any sort of legal action, I will of course do the right thing...and run away, but your all welcome to come and visit me in Rio!

Like some of my other classmates, I'm going to try and broaden the scope of my research a little. I'll come back to the more relevant stuff at a later date...hopefully!

I've mentioned in other posts that I've always been a fan of street and documentary photography. I'm researching a post about Henri Cartier-Bresson at the minute (thought I'd let you know that, so when Dave inevitably posts one just before I do, you won't think I'm copying;) But before I release that, I thought I'd cover someone I've only just discovered. Whilst flicking through the British Journal of Photography website the other day, I came across this article: Interview with Tom Hunter  I know strictly speaking they're not quite street, or documentary photographs, as Hunter poses a lot of his subjects, but as he uses them to portray life in and around Hackney, it's the closest description I could think of. Besides, one of Don McCullin's most famous pictures, was staged, so if he can get away with it, we can probably cut this guy a little slack.

A lot of this information is in the article, but as I won't get marked for what someone else has written, I'll give you a quick summary of Hunter and how he got in to photography. He was born in Dorset in 1965 and held down several jobs before he became a tree surgeon in Hackney. Whilst there, he was offered an opportunity to work in Puerto Rico with the American forestry commission. Like any sensible person would, he decided to take a camera with him to record his trip, and that's where his love of photography started. When he got back he decided to pursue a career in photography. After attending an a-level class, he then went on to study at the London College of Printing, and eventually gained a masters degree at the Royal College of Art. While studying Hunter had been living in a squat in Hackney, and became disillusioned with the way squatters and other people were always portrayed in a negative light by the press. He decided to use his camera to try and change the way these people were perceived. I think in a lot of ways Hunter can be compared to Diane Arbus. Though his subjects are not in any way "freaks", like Arbus's was dealing with, the squatters were never the less on the fringes of society, often trying to just live their lives, but having to deal with the outside world and it's frequently critical appraisal of their lifestyle.

Hunter decided that in order to alter the perceptions people had, he would need to find a way to show the squatters in a different frame of reference. He hit upon the idea of using classical art to make his point. Whether it was before he shifted his focus from trees to art, or if he discovered them whilst at university I don't know, but Hunter has said the 17th century dutch masters have been incredibly influential on his work. That brings us to the first of his photographs:

Woman Reading A Possession Order, By Tom Hunter

This is the photograph most commonly associated with Tom Hunter, it's also one of the most popular one's he's produced, and I can understand why. Though his later works are often more complex in their ambition and staging, I don't think any of them come anywhere close to capturing the understated beauty and subtle grace this picture has. Taken in 1997 and included in his masters degree show. The picture is part of an eight photo series called persons unknown. It's based on Johannes Vermeer's 1657 painting, "Girl reading a letter at an open window":

Girl Reading A Letter At An Open Window, By Johannes Vermeer.

Filipa was Hunter's neighbour in the squat they lived in. Hackney council had just delivered a letter to everyone in the street informing them they were to be evicted, so the buildings could be demolished. Apparently they played around with the set-up all day. Trying a number of different combinations of props, some of which more closely resembled the original paintings composition, but they eventually decided to replace the fruit with Filipa's new born baby. Although I'm sure there were aesthetic reasons for this choice, I'd assume the main reason for the exchange was Hunters desire to humanise the squatters. He could illicit far more of an emotional response by showing her as a mother just about to lose her home, rather than a simple stereotype.

With regards to the composition, Hunter obviously had certain restrictions he had to work around. The placing and stance of the main subject was fairly well dictated by the original painting, but by replacing the fruit and including her scant possessions in the background, he's added his own twist to the photograph. The fact the baby is looking at his mother also helps to reinforce the familial connection between the two.

The lighting is what really makes the photograph for me. After all the faffing about with props, it was quite late in the day when this photo was taken. This means the late afternoon light rakes across the room, and bathes Filipa in a beautiful glow. This not only allows the viewer to catch the stoic look of acceptance on her face, but also offers fleeting glimpses of little details in the rest of the picture, such as the ringlets in her hair and the metallic sheen of one of the blankets.The strong low light also helps to add texture to the picture. the contrast it creates between the light and shadows makes the folds in her clothes and the pattern of the woolen blanket really stand out.

There isn't a lot of information out there about the equipment used to capture this picture. Clearly the lighting is entirely natural, and there hasn't been any manipulation of the final image. The only information I could find was that he used a large format camera to capture the image and that the exposure was about one second long. I do know a little about the way he finally produced the photograph, but I'll go in to that further down the post, as it's a little complicated.

I think though this is a staged portrait, that doesn't in any way detract from the poignancy of the moment. These are real people who were genuinely being threatened with eviction. Hunter is simply using a different medium to try and alter peoples perceptions. Which worked incidentally! After seeing his photographs the council agreed to meet with the residents and eventually relented on their plans for demolition.

The next picture isn't one of  my favourites, but I think it's a good example of the broad range of Hunters work:

The Way Home, By Tom Hunter

Part of Hunter's thirteen photograph: Life and death in Hackney series. This photograph was taken in 2000 and like the previous picture is based on a famous painting. This time though, it's the 1851-52 Pre-Raphaelite painting by John Everett Millais:

Ophelia, By John Everett Millais

Perhaps, because as a squatter and sometime traveller he felt marginalised at some point himself, he seems to have a deep seeded need to record the events of everyday people who might otherwise be forgotten. So when he heard about a young girl who fell in to a local canal after a party, he was inspired to create this photograph.

I find the composition of this photograph a little strange. In the original, Ophelia is clearly the central focus of the picture. You connect emotionally with her. The viewer is aware that though she'll gradually sink in to the water and drown, her madness has taken away an hint of the danger she might be in, so she remains content to sing her little songs and play with her flowers. In Hunter's picture however, the subject is almost incidental to the whole thing. Tucked away in the bottom half of the picture, she seems to be enveloped by all the foliage. I'm sure Hunter feels the need to provide some context to the setting, but I find all the little buildings and other elements in the background distracting to be honest.

I don't think the lighting works particularly well either. It's flat and devoid of any warmth. Again I'm fully aware that this is supposed to represent a tragic event, so maybe the lighting is supposed to reflect the sombre subject matter, but I just don't like it.

It's completely plausible to suggest I'm missing the point of this photograph and the others in the series, but when you compare it to others Hunter has taken, I just find them...odd. His photo's in the persons unknown and ghetto series, seek to demonstrate the life and vibrancy of the people of Hackney. They might be poor and not operate by the everyday rules others do, but they're happy! This ability to portray people who are often overlooked, in a new and original way, is what drew me to his work in the first place, so these one's just aren't for me I'm afraid.

As promised I'll give you a brief description of the way Hunter produces his final images. Because of his love of large format and pinhole cameras to capture his photographs, he obviously can't just run off a few copies with an inkjet! The process he actually uses, was called Cibachrome, but is now called Ilfochrome (Ilford bought the company.) This is basically a way of transferring picture information from a photographic slide on to paper. You still use a standard colour enlarger to project the images, but rather than use traditional photo paper the sheets used in this system is actually a sort of plastic. The chemical dyes used are also specially selected for their vibrancy, and ability to reproduce colours. The benefits of this process are that the colour reproduction and longevity of the picture is much better than other similar methods.

As usual I seem to have used an awful lot of words, without actually saying anything. I think I might have to come back and rewrite this at some point. I'll probably add a few more photos as well. Still, on the bright side...research post number six! We're getting there folks:)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Research: Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry needs little in the way of introduction. The afghan girl is probably the most famous photograph of the past 30 years. Obviously I'll be including it in this post, but, I'm mainly going to focus on McCurry's use of colour. In October I went to see a retrospective of McCurry's work at the waterhall gallery in Birmingham. As I was wandering round the exhibition hall, pausing occasionally to listen to the string quartet playing in the corner (I know..I know, I'm sophisticated), the one thing I couldn't help but notice was the sheer amount of colour present in every photo.


McCurry has an innate ability with colour. In my opinion, his use of colour is better than any photographer I've ever seen (though I haven't seen everyone.) Luckily for him, there was a medium available that would not only allow those colours to be seen, but also to remain vibrant..Kodachrome! Produced in 1935 by Eastman Kodak, Kodachrome was the first commercially successful colour film. Though there had been others before, none of them had really perfected the process. Available in a variety of formats, from 8mm movie film, to large format slide film for cameras, and sold in multiple speeds (starting at ASA/ISO 6 and continuing up past 200.) It lasted for 74years, before being discontinued in 2009. Although he has since moved on to other films and digital media, McCurry became the poster boy for Kodachrome, so much so, that when they announced the discontinuation, he shot the last roll of film to ever be developed. I'm not saying the film has anything to do with how good the photographs are, clearly this is just a development process and would be useless without McCurry's talent, but it's almost impossible to mention one, without talking about the other.

Afghan Girl

 Afghan Girl, 1984,
Copyright Steve McCurry

I couldn't possibly do a research post about Steve McCurry without including this picture. That doesn't mean it's here just for the sake of it though. Whilst I can't claim to have been influenced by the picture the first time it was published. I'd have been three at the time, so was probably more concerned with all the interesting things I could stick up my nose, rather than the geopolitical ramifications of an iconic photograph! Later in life, this is exactly the sort of picture that inspired me to learn photography, and who knows, maybe one day someone will be writing a research post about me (stop laughing!) Given that it's become one of the most famous photographs ever taken, it's strange to think it was almost never seen. The picture editor of national geographic thought that the picture was too disturbing to be used. Luckily for everyone, he changed his mind.

Taken to accompany Debra Denker's story about the suffering of the afghan people under soviet occupation, this portrait appeared on the cover of the June 1985 issue of national geographic magazine. McCurry himself says that when he took it, he had no idea just what an impact it would have on the photographic world. At the time, Sharbat Gula (that's her actual name) was just another young refugee who he thought would make an interesting subject. It was shot on a Nikon FM2 35mm SLR, with a Nikkor 105mm F/2.5 lens and using Kodachrome film (of course!) 

Although it's a relatively simple photo, no fancy lighting rigs, no digital manipulation, there are a number of things that make it stand out. The first is the defining characteristic of the photo...her eyes. I'm reliably informed by the national geographic website they're sea green, but, amazing as the colour might be, it's the depth of meaning they convey which has made them famous.You can see every hardship she's had to endure, every mile she's trekked to get to the safety of the refugee camp in Pakistan. Her struggles are also reflected in the remnants of her headscarf. The colourful scarf offers you a glimpse of better times, a time when clothes could be chosen for their aesthetic value, rather than practicality. The juxtaposition of the bright scarf and the more recent holes, not only represents the hard journey she's made, but also allow her green clothes to peek through and add hints of colour to the picture. Colour that's perfectly complemented by the green background. A background which McCurry's thrown out of focus with a narrow depth of field, thereby adding further definition to the main subject.

Well there you have it, a picture often copied, but never bettered. would be remiss of me to leave the story there, so, just for you, I've included the next photograph.

Sharbat Gula, 2002, Copyright Steve McCurry

Until 2002, Sharbat was simply "The Afghan Girl." Because of strict rules governing interaction with men, Steve McCurry never had an opportunity to learn her real name. So in 2002, along with national geographic, he decide to start a search for her. After a number of false leads, they were finally able to identify her using biometrics to match her iris patterns. When McCurry finally met her again he produced the above picture, though by this time he had moved away from Kodachrome and used Kodak E100VS film instead.

Although I think this picture offers an interesting contrast to the original. I don't actually like it that much. I appreciate she's gotten older, and her hard life has obviously taken it's toll, but she seems to have lost the passion she had in the original. In the first picture she'd suffered, but she remained defiant. In this one she seems somehow hollow, as if she's finally given up. As far as the composition goes. McCurry has clearly tried to emulate the set-up of the 1984 photograph, though I don't think it works nearly as well. The background in the original perfectly complimented Sharbat's clothes. Whereas the background in the new picture looks like the sort of thing you'd find in a cheap high street studio. It adds nothing to the whole.


The Afghan Girl might be the most famous of McCurry's photographs, but it's not the only great picture he's captured. Many of my favourites actually come from his trips to India.

Jodphur India, 2005, Copyright Steve McCurry

I love this picture! As well as seeming to contain it's own natural narrative, it forces you to ask so many questions. Who is the boy? Why is he running? Is he desperate to get some where, or, is he running away from something he's just done? Who put the hand prints on the wall? Are they merely decoration, or were they put there as part of a festival? Is this a simple shortcut, or is it part of some labyrinthine set of alleyways? These are just a few of the ones I can think off.

McCurry uses a number of clever compositional techniques to give the viewer a real sense of movement. The obvious one is the use of a fast shutter speed to catch the boy in mid-air, just as he's about to disappear around the corner. He's also captured the high walls and narrow nature of the alley, allowing them to lead the eye straight to the boy. Combined with the drastic changes of angle, they all help to add to the sense of speed. Another element I think McCurry manages to illustrate well, is the dichotomy of having gaily painted walls, but then letting them become covered with mud and giving free rein to the general decay of the area.

Rajasthan, India, 1983, Copyright Steve McCurry

This is another of my favourites and a good example of being in the right place at the right time. McCurry was actually travelling to another town when his taxi was forced to stop by a dust storm. As he was waiting he noticed some women who had been working on the road. The weather had also forced them to stop work and they had gathered together for shelter and to pray. 

I like the way that as the storm batters them, they form an island of serenity, each caught up in their own little world, but each relying on the others to keep them safe. Their faith in their friends and religion, helping to insulate them from the outside world. The colourful sari's further unify the group, the richness of the red in complete contrast to the earthy tones of their surroundings. All adding to the sense of separation from the rest of the picture. McCurry says that they were so busy praying that none of them actually noticed him taking the picture. Thus enabling him to capture this natural moment between friends. Never one to focus on the obvious, my favourite part of the picture is the trees. Apparently there had been a drought for the previous thirteen years and this has virtually denuded them of their foliage. Coupled with the dust in the atmosphere, this makes them appear almost ephemeral, like phantoms looming out of the storm, ready to pounce, or, to disappear again moments later.

I've tried to focus on the photos a bit more in this post. Including more about how they were created and how they make me feel. As I said before, hopefully this is more of the sort of information we're supposed to include.

Thank you to Hillary Rose for allowing me to use the photographs.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Useful Websites: Photoshop

I mentioned this to a couple of people in class, but I'll put it on here for anyone who wants them. There are loads of useful websites out there for learning your way around photoshop here's just a few:
This last one's not photoshop, but it's great for lighting: 

Try not to panic when you see how complex some of the tutorials are! You might not be able to get it exactly the same, but you'll learn a lot whilst your trying. 

Have fun:)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fibonacci Sequence, Or, The Golden Ratio

Hello Everybody!

I know I should be getting on with all the important things I've still got to do, as I'm so far behind, but I'm having a bit of a mental block at the minute, so I thought I'd write a quick post about an interesting article I read the other day.

As you're all loyal readers (aren't you?) I'm sure you'll all know that compared to a lot of people in class, I really struggle with composition. So, when something comes along that might help, I'll clutch hold of it, like a drowning man would to a piece of debris! That's why, when doing one of my frequent searches for anything useful, I was very happy to come across an article about using Fibonacci's number sequence to help compose pictures. Rather than just give you a link to the article (that would be too easy!) I'll try and explain it in this post.

Now, I'm sure this won't be news to those artist's amongst us, in fact, I'm sure if you asked her, Marie would be quite happy to quote the sequence to at least 50 places;) but for those of you like me, who can only vaguely remember learning about the sequence at school, let alone, any use it might be for photographers. I'll explain what the hell I'm talking about.

Again, if you're similar to me, you'll enjoy maths about as much as you'd enjoy a nice afternoon of invasive surgery, but I'm afraid a little bit is necessary to understand the principle. Just bear with me, and you'll be happy you did at the end.

So! What is Fibonacci's Number sequence? They're a sequence of numbers (obviously), named after Leonardo Fibonacci. Who brought them to the attention of the world in the early part of the thirteenth century. Sometimes starting with 0, and sometimes starting with 1. The sequence is basically calculated, by making the next number of the sequence, the sum of the previous two numbers. So we get: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21...and so on. and so forth, ad infinitum. Whilst this is great for calculating the direction of financial market patterns, or just showing off to you're friends in the pub. What does it actually mean to us humble photographers? Well, it can be used in a couple of ways, that basically equate to the same thing: The golden ratio!

The golden Ratio,or Phi (for you fans of the Greek alphabet), is 1:1.618... Which you can calculate by working out the ratio between two consecutive number in the Fibonacci sequence, by continuing up the scale you get closer and closer to the golden ratio. You can use this rule to compose a photograph, again in a couple of ways.

The first and simplest method is to split your picture in to three segments. Wait a minute! I hear you cry. Isn't this just the rule of the thirds? Yes, and no. The golden ratio is the rule of the thirds cranked all the way up to 11! (fans of spinal tap?) In the rule of thirds, you separate your picture in to three equal sections 1:1:1 (hence the name, thirds, you see.) But with the golden ratio, you split the picture in to three unequal sections 1:6.18:1, then use the resulting lines and intersections to compose the picture:

If you're going to use this file, the measurements aren't exact, just a guide, but I think I got them  fairly close.
It's also a png file, not a jpeg.

The second method is a bit more complicated, but a lot more interesting to look at. This uses something called the golden rectangle. A golden rectangle is basically a rectangle where the the measurements of the sides are related to phi, but when you unhitch the length from its connection with the width, then swing it round to create a new length, you also get a golden rectangle. If you continue to do this, then draw a curve from the corresponding corners of each square, you'll get one of these:

Fibonacci Curve, from wikipedia

A Fibonacci curve! This was created by starting with a 1x1 square, then creating golden rectangles and following the Fibonacci sequence up to 34. Again you can use this to compose your photographs. Simply orientate the spiral anyway you want, then place your point of interest at the centre of the spiral.This, as many artists over the years have discovered, gives you a naturally well composed picture.

Clearly, you can't be expected to work this out with the naked eye (I certainly can't anyway!) But, if you look at your photograph and aren't sure why it's not working, try overlaying one of these systems over the top in photoshop and try to crop the picture accordingly. See what it looks like. It might not help, but it's worth a try! Just be careful not to lose your original image.

Hope this helps people, and wasn't too boring.

Here's a link to the original article. It will probably explain it much more clearly than I have:Original Article

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I was a 100yards from the front door of the college, when I got a phone call to tell me lessons had been cancelled...Damn you weather (Shakes fist at the sky!)

I shall be avenged!

On second thoughts, It's snowing wheee:)