Part five – Project 2 – Exercise 5.3

Exercise 5.3

Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in Part Three. (If you can get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London you can see an original print on permanent display in the Photography Gallery.) Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal ‘point’ to which the eye returns again and again? What information does this ‘point’ contain?

Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log. You can be as imaginative as you like. In order to contextualise your discussion you might want to include one or two of your own shots, and you may wish to refer to Rinko Kawauchi’s photograph mentioned above or the Theatres series by Hiroshi Sugimoto discussed in Part Three. Write about 150–300 words.

The single element that stands out for me the most is the area of the image where the man is leaping and his reflection.  I think this is because there is a very dark element in the man and a very light area between the two sets of legs; the leaping man and his reflection, i.e. the ’empty’ space captured between those confines.

The light area looks like a star shape. It is definitely the light section which draws my eye back to it all the time.

This attraction to the light/highlighted area within the image has the same effect in the two other referenced photographers work: Rinko Kawauchi’s cover of her book Illuminance and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theatres series.

This makes me think that a bright area which is in strong contrast with the areas around it will bring the eye back to it.

I have entered a fair number of competitions at my photography club and the judges always point out the light spots (blown out highlights) which are distracting to the eye especially on the frame. So I think what this exercise is trying to prove is that not only can light areas be a distraction but they can also work as a focal point and used to the photographers advantage especially when you want the viewer to be drawn to a particular part of the image.

I guess my question that would follow on from this is why does this happen….

Word count: 244


Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare by Henri Cartier-Bresson;
(Accessed: 1 March 2017)

Illuminace Book Cover Photo by Rinko Kawauchi; (Accessed: 1 March 2017)

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theatres series; (Accessed: 1 March 2017)


One thought on “Part five – Project 2 – Exercise 5.3

  1. Chas Bedford

    I think the point is that light areas attract attention. If they attract it to the right place they are a good thing. If they attract it to the wrong place …


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