Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Exercise 12 : The Frame : Positioning the horizon

A recent trip to the Cairngorms gave great opportunities for some landscape photography and especially for the exercise on positioning the horizon.  This exercise required a clear and uninterrupted view and the objective was to look for a number of distinct horizon positions from top to bottom within the frame.

The wintery scene changed a little in terms of light during the five exposures I made, but I don’t believe that this was detrimental to the objective.

Image 1  The first image (above) showed the entire scene and told the story of the mountain road leading down through the trees to the valley below and of the snow covered, cloud capped, mountains in the background and the snowy sky above.  The deep red colours of the winter birches and the green of the bushes in the foreground and middle ground add some warmth to the scene and underpin the mountains in the background.

Image 2  In the second shot (above) I positioned the horizon roughly along the top third line in the frame.  Although the full scene was still visible, the balance of the image had changed, with far less prominence given to the road and a more dominant position being assumed by the trees which now formed the major part of the foreground.  The sky also contributed a greater part to the overall image.  This was my preferred shot of those I took as felt that the overall balance of the image was the best whilst losing nothing from the story of the scene.

Image 3   This image removed the road from the picture entirely and changed the narrative of the picture to be of trees and a valley with mountains in the background.  The warmth of the birches was still present, but had less impact than in the previous shots.  In this case the dominance in the image was held by the mountains and the sky above and drew the viewer far more into the distant landscape than the previous shots had done.  This placement of the horizon on the centre line of the frame offered little in terms of composition, and as Michael Freeman points out in the course notes, it makes for a very static composition.  It’s neither one thing or the other.
Image 4   A much colder image with just the distant mountains in view along with the sky.  I liked the way that the shoulders of the foreground hills on the bottom left and right of the picture lead into the mountains beyond, but this picture seemed to convey a feeling isolation and remoteness from the distant scene, although it did have a nice ‘big sky’ feel to it.
Image 5  The final frame I shot, with the horizon placed very low in the frame, was quite an appealing composition (at least to me!) and spoke just of the mountain peaks and the sky.  The implication that there was a valley below had gone and all that was left was an image of distant cold.
I felt that this exercise offered a lot of opportunity for experimentation and interpretation and that the scene I chose leant itself very well to illustrating the changing story of the scene as the pictures changed with the different horizon positions.  When the opportunity arises, I plan to repeat this exercise with a straight and solid horizon of the sea to establish whether my feeling around the different positions change with a different scene divided with just a straight line.

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