Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.
When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4). In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:
“Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, and analyse it not from the point of view of your intention, but because it is there.”
I set up some table top lighting and used a sandstone ornament representing a mother and child in arms as my subject. This object has a lot of sentimental significance for me being that it was given to me at the time my first child was born, hence a subject I have empathy with.
I took a lot of different shots from different angles and distances to see how the ornament looked from these new angles, angles which I had never viewed it from before, being that is has always been in a fixed position on my mantle piece.
I found this exercise of viewing this familiar object in ways which were unfamiliar to me intriguing. The ornament had some lovely form from the different angles I was now viewing it from.
I put all the images together on a contact sheet and took a look at this familiar object, in both the familiar and now unfamiliar ways:
Because I had been so familiar with the subject from one particular viewpoint for years it was hard to select which image represented my ‘best shot’, given this new perspective I had on the subject.
In the end I was drawn to this image:
The reason I like this image is;
- the subject from the side creates an ‘O’ at the center which works well with the curve of the heads and base,
- the subtle reflection of the subject in the table top. The circle of the subject and it’s reflection almost look like a pair of eyes sideways on, and
- the edges of the table top provides shadows and depth to the image.
I think your eye is initially drawn in to the center to the subject then runs down to the bottom dark area, across the bottom of the frame and out on the right hand side. The eye then picks up on the shadow on the right hand side further up the frame and brings the eye back in following the leading line of the shadow where the table top meets the wall. The eye then returns back to the subject.
Playing around with this image a bit more, I think the composition could be improved so I have added a re-cropped image, with a controversial square crop, below:
Expressing your Vision (OCA 2014, updated 2017), Rob Bloomfield, ‘Project 1 The distance between us’ pp. 104.