Eleanor sent me this photo after reading my post on “101 things to know about photography“. She’s referring to number 42 that says, “The Rule of Thirds is boring”. Since I meant every letter of every wordt, we’ll move on to her photo and question which is:
“Hey Joe, I’ve been working on using all the techniques I learned in your class. I have a photo that I would love your input on. I thought to submit it after reading your “101 Thing You Need to Know Post”, where you said that the “Rule of Thirds is Boring”.
I took the attached photo of my girls climbing on a fence in a neighborhood school yard. I wanted to give equal attention to both of the girls split by the fence post. I instinctively chose to put the girls and the fence in the middle of the frame but I’m questioning whether it works? Perhaps it is not the positioning but the background activity that bothers me. Do you have any suggestions for a different approach?
I did brighten it up a touch before I deciding to submit it.
I hope all is well, Eleanor.”
Your instinct was right on in my opinion. I really like how you used the fence to divide the page right down the middle. It makes a statement to be sure, and it’s where I would have placed the fence and kids as well. It feels balanced and I also like how each girl is doing her own thing. I especially like it that you have just one of the kids looking in the camera with that great facial gesturing in the form of a big smile. They are the center of interest, so it’s feels right that they’re in the center of the composition.
By the way, stay tuned to my upcoming post on the use of Gesture; both human and non-human.
As I told you in my online class with the PPSOP, and as I tell my students that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, Line is the most important element of visual design (everything that exists has an outLine), and the implied line between the subject’s eyes and the lens can be very powerful…as it is in your photo.
It feels fresh and real. The viewer would never know if you had the girl look at you or she looked on her own. it’s your secret, and whether it was staged or not doesn’t matter; you were making pictures, not taking them!!! As you know from my class, there’s only one thing that can overcome an overcast, gray day and that’s Humor. It’s a funny photo while being one of those sweet moments in time.
You’re right about the background activity or lack of. In an upcoming article I wrote for The learning Center at Adorama on the six principles of Gestalt, one of the concepts is called Figure-Ground, and it refers to the relationship between an object (the figure) and the surroundings (the ground).
In this photo, to make the Figure stand out from the Ground, I would have used a longer lens and knocked the background out of focus. Or shot with the lens you had on but shot it at it’s widest aperture. That would have put the focus where it needed to be…on the girls. Besides, no one but you knows that it’s a school yard since it’s not what I call a “quick read”.
Thanks for the submission, and I hope to shoot with you some day.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2012 workshop schedule. Come shoot with me sometime.
Keep those questions and photos coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com