10 Jan 2010

Exercise: A sequence of composition

This exercise consisted of going through the practical process of approaching and achieving a good shot.  Rather than eyeing up the shot and taking it when it looked good, the idea was to move around whilst looking through the viewfinder taking photos trying not to loose an eye or walk into too many people.  It should be a record of how I moved around to obtain the best shot.

This is a style of photography that I have enjoyed for many years and I was looking forward to getting to a suitable location.  I found a couple of markets where I could attempt the sequence, one local Christmas market and a fresh produce indoor market in China.  Both presented a few problems... in Petersfield the sun was low but strong giving a big contrast between light and shade.  In the indoor market I was relying on the available artificial light, corrected for cast by manually setting the white balance.

Moving around I was getting good but fleeting interaction with the stall holders so it was particularly difficult to compose a decent shot and get a good expression from the person involved.  I was also keen to make the best of the unusual array of eels that were splayed open and hung from the ceiling like pink kites.  I found the best technique was to hold the camera as high as I could and shoot from arms length down onto the stalls.  This gave a great framing of the shot from above with the eels and a good angle on the stalls as well.  The only disadvantage was the lack of eye contact, however I still like the shot as it is a little out of the ordinary.


The Chilli Jam lady was a great character to shoot and I wanted to put her in context, preferably with a customer.  The opportunity to get the shot I wanted didn't come but I got a nice portrait shot of the stall holder and her produce.



A busker was a good target as he worked the crowd.  The first angle I had as I approached was good but I wanted to include his case and coins so moved around and changed my view point to get a good shot up at him.  What I didn't realise was that the dustbins would come into view from my chosen angle which rather spoilt the composition.  I also had to work the shot slightly in Photoshop to lift the shadowed area as it contrasted too much with the bright sunlight on the wall behind.  Not the perfect shot by a fair way.

This set had the potential to be the best yet.  The girl with the red hair was a great subject as she had a ready smile, striking hair and was prepared to make eye contact.  I moved around the stall trying to catch the best angle as I wanted to include the roast pig and the chef as well as the girl serving a customer.  I almost made the perfect shot in the second to last one but didn't quite manage to get the girl to look up at the right time.  Still, I liked a couple of them and the final one has a great expression on her face so it might have done.



Saving the best until last I have a sequence of a cheese seller.  I particularly liked this subject as he was working the crowd and a bit of a showman trying to get them to taste his cheese.  He had also set his stall up nicely with some full rounds of cheese in an old box which gave a nice frame to the right side of the shot.  His striped awning matched his apron linking the shot nicely and coordinates the colours.  I naturally chose a portrait view as that fitted the frame best but as I got closer I realised that a landscape shot down the stall would give me the proportions and depth that my previous view lacked.  What I particularly like are the diminishing angles that run from the stall holder with his cheese box down to the left of the frame.  They take the eye onto the stall holder next door who sits in shadow, hands in his pocket, without any customers looking rather jealously at all the activity that his next door neighbour is getting.  This shot is my choice of the sets that I took.

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