Cor­ner to cor­ner

Cor­ners of­fer a more dy­namic and ac­tive tar­get for align­ment, and bring di­ag­o­nals into play

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia -

WAdd some di­rec­tion

This im­age was taken in Yun­nan, China, as part of a se­ries on cor­morant fish­ing. This is a tra­di­tional method in which cor­morants dive to catch fish and re­turn to the boat to dis­gorge them. From a shoot­ing se­quence in which the fish­er­man re­leases the bird into the air, this was the strong­est im­age, and it worked be­cause the cor­morant flies straight into the up­per cor­ner.

The align­ment be­gins with the man and boat in the lower-right cor­ner, and there’s a flow­ing di­ag­o­nal line of in­ter­est up through the frame that is helped con­sid­er­ably by the man’s arm and wrist as he re­leases the bird.

Would it have been a bet­ter shot if the cor­morant’s wings hadn’t clipped the frame? I don’t think so for a mo­ment, and I’m not just mak­ing ex­cuses. Apart from the slightly strange but sweet ges­ture of the man as he re­leases the bird on its way – which helps the di­ag­o­nal move­ment up and to the left – the wings ac­tu­ally close off the up­per-left of the frame into a neat tri­an­gle that strength­ens the com­po­si­tion (as the di­a­grams to the right il­lus­trate). hile the sides of your frame are al­ready lines that in­vite some kind of match­ing with edges or sub­jects in­side, the cor­ners of an im­age can of­ten work more strongly for align­ment. It helps if the cor­ners are ‘clean’ and with­out clut­ter, so that they stand out clearly – as in the up­per cor­ners of the main im­age here, which are just sky.

Fit­ting things into a cor­ner in­evitably means work­ing with di­ag­o­nal lines, which sim­ply have more graphic en­ergy than hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal lines. One way to use cor­ners is to take one long sub­ject and align it from one cor­ner to its op­po­site. An­other way is to pro­ject the sub­ject into one cor­ner, as seen here. It’s quite a sim­ple tech­nique, and if the pieces fall into place it can be sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive.

A cor­morant takes off to fish on Erhai Lake in Yun­nan, China. Tilt­ing the cam­era slightly makes a broad di­ag­o­nal of the ac­tion, and en­sures the bird is head­ing di­rectly into the up­per-left cor­ner, its beak and body point­ing the way. Break­ing the frame with its out­stretched wings, it also cre­ates a strong tri­an­gle out of this cor­ner, so em­pha­sis­ing it.

Di­ag­o­nal lines

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