Shift your view­point

Here’s a classic case of bring­ing or­der to a com­plex scene by shift­ing the view­point, and then wait­ing...

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia -

t was the com­plex­ity of this sharply lit and highly colour­ful en­trance gate to a Ti­betan monastery that at­tracted my eye, and this made it nat­u­ral to want to fill the frame with what seemed like a multi-hued mo­saic. This be­came the whole point of the pic­ture, but it also de­manded some effort to give it some struc­ture. Busy im­ages like this usu­ally need more work to find a com­po­si­tion that holds them to­gether. In this case, an ob­vi­ous way to fill the frame was to step back and use a longer lens for its com­press­ing ef­fect – 170mm on a 70-200mm zoom – but it also called for a side­ways shift in view­point so that the four vis­ual parts of the struc­ture made sense in the way that they fit­ted to­gether: the or­nately roofed piece in the fore­ground, the low wall in front of that, the back­ground and the door­way.

As the il­lus­tra­tion shows, mov­ing the cam­era po­si­tion shifts the pieces by par­al­lax. The lynch­pin, how­ever, is the figure at the bot­tom. He’s in sil­hou­ette, which will be bet­ter de­fined if I can get the mo­ment in pro­file. As it’s such a busy frame, he also needs to be out­lined against a clear bright part of the scene. There are never any guar­an­tees with this kind of sit­u­a­tion – the figure may or may not move into a po­si­tion that’s use­ful for your com­po­si­tion – but wait­ing is im­por­tant to give it a chance.

Al­though the mo­saic of colours and de­tail, all sharply fo­cused, con­fuse the ac­tual phys­i­cal struc­tures here (partly the point of the im­age), there are four ‘units’ to con­sider: the gate be­hind, the free-stand­ing struc­ture at left, the fore­ground wall and steps, and the man. Mov­ing around by a cou­ple of me­tres in any di­rec­tion con­trols their ar­range­ment, but the man’s pos­ture was down to chance.

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