Part One – Project 2 – Exercise 1.3 (1) (2) Line
Brief (1): Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wider-angle lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a view-point close to the line.
Practical (1): I recently went to see Performing for the Camera at the Tate and had this exercise in mind so I have included a couple of photographs I took that day, as well as some others which demonstrate this idea that line creates a sense of depth.
Looking along inside a hoarding gives a good sense of depth. It may have been more emphasised without the subject being in the frame but the fact that you can still see it extending past them I think it still works for this exercise. The shadows and lighting also helps to create that sense of depth, providing the eye a reference to point to move on to the next section, further into the image.
Maybe this photo was not as successful. I honestly thought it would be easy to get a long straight road in London but in the Bank area where I took this photograph there were lots of junctions which broke up the flow for capturing depth, however, it works on one level as the cars get smaller the further away they are so you can definitely see depth. Also the building at the end has a curve to it so your brain fills the gaps and assumes the road continues around the corner, which it does on this occasion.
This photograph was taken down my road. I hadn’t thought my road was that long until I saw this picture. The off-centre leading line really creates a sense of depth. Even though you know there is a building at the end, the pathway seems to go on into infinity because of the white wall of the building.
Lastly this shot which I took at St Pancras International Station in London works to create depth by using the left hand wall and the leading line on the floor to take you into the image. I think the lines creating the dome also create a visual pathway to draw the eye in. Although there is glass at the end, you can see there is further light beyond the people so your eye is taken further in (probably to a platform or two).
Brief (2): Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down). Modern architecture offers strong lines and dynamic diagonals, and zooming in can help to create simpler, more abstract compositions.
This is the first shot I took, using some Minecraft blocks stacked up. I thought this had potential in showing how taking a photograph from above could flatten lines. On the whole it worked, however, because I constructed the tower on a gridded base board I think perspective worked against me a bit. It is more obvious which areas are higher as they created larger squares (closer to the camera) than those in direct contact with the base board. It was fun experimenting nonetheless.
So I went back to the drawing board. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have any tall buildings in my area which would be worth climbing up to get a more idyllic example of lines being flattened. So, I headed back into the studio and what went with me this time? Coins. I piled up a number of different sized coins and, as before, photographed them from above and then from the front to show the effect that photographing the coins from above can have to flatten them removing depth.
From brief (1) you can clearly see the effect of using lines to create depth. I like creating depth in this way as you will see from my other photographs (particularly Assignment 1, which is still to be posted but I will provide a link here when it is). With this composition it is important that the ‘leading lines’ lead somewhere within the frame, otherwise the eye goes out of the image and has to come in again where it originally entered the image.
From brief (2) you can clearly see the effect of taking a photograph from above can have a flattening effect on objects. I had never considered taking photographs from this vantage point before but I think I will give it a go when I get the opportunity. I presume the same thing would apply to being square on to a vertical subject. Compositionally it is not disruptive to an image for lines to exit the frame when they are perpendicular.
After doing this exercise I decided to look up photographers who have used lines to create either depth to their photographs, like Eugene Atget’s Saint-Cloud (1924), or to reduce depth by taking photographs from above, like Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s Boats, Marseille (1927). Both these examples are given in our course notes.
Bill Brandt’s cityscapes used lines to good effect and in fact some of his early work was modelled on that of Atget. Brandt’s photograph ‘Policeman in a Dockland Alley, Bermondsey’ (1938) has a brick wall to lead the viewer into the image down the alleyway to a policeman who appears to be on guard. Then further to the light source.
Berenice Abbott, an American photographer who was also inspired by Atget, produced photographs using both line to exaggerate depth and height to flatten it. Abbott’s ‘Walkway, Manhattan Bridge, New York’ (1936) has the huge steel structure of the Manhattan Bridge and walkway to create depth, drawing the viewer into the image and on towards the city. In her aerial photograph ‘Nightview New York’ (1932), Abbott uses a high vantage point to reduce the height of buildings and the cars just appear as lights on the road.
Michael Langford also used a high vantage point to take his photo of New York from the top of the Empire State Building. Langford (2010) re fig 5.10 states “From such a distance perspective and scale change between foreground and background elements are minimized. This heightens the grid-like pattern.”
Also whilst researching lines to create depth I noted that there are other ways to create depth in a photograph e.g. using atmosphere, colour, light, shadows, solidity, focus and movement but I’m sure we’ll come on to these in the goodness of time.
This completes my submission for Exercise 1.3 (1) Line. I will provide a link here to the exercise 1.4 Frame once it has been posted.
Bill Brandt Biography – Victoria and Albert Museum. 2016. Bill Brandt Biography – Victoria and Albert Museum. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/bill-brandt-biography/.. [Accessed 8 April 2016].
Berenice Abbott | artnet. 2016. Berenice Abbott | artnet. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/berenice-abbott/. [Accessed 8 April 2016].
Creating Depth in Art and Photography – ZevenDesign. 2016. Creating Depth in Art and Photography – ZevenDesign. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.zevendesign.com/creating-depth-art-photography/. [Accessed 8 April 2016].
Michael Langford, 2010. Langford’s Basic Photography: The Guide for Serious Photographers. 9th Edition. Focal Press.