Photography Project – Shape

I mentioned a while back about my weekly photography project to try and improve my image-making. The start of the list is “Elements of an Image: Shape”. So that was my brief for today: look for clearly-defined shapes and make them the focal point of the image. This can either be in the form of silhouettes for back-lit subjects, or with a strong contrast between subject and background with a front-lit setup.

The sun this afternoon was glorious, but I hadn’t really prepared to go out away from the house; it was more a spur-of-the-moment thing, so I was left in the back garden. Unfortunately, there’s very little in our back garden where there is a clear, uncluttered background. The best background I could have is the clear blue sky, but I live in a housing estate, and roof lines or flue pipes are not the best subjects.

Having pretty much abandoned the project before starting it today, I decided that one good candidate for photography styles in these conditions is macro work: the bright light allows a small aperture, while still retaining reasonably short shutter speeds. So armed with my wonderful Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens, I started hunting out small details in things.

First to catch my eye was a dandelion. There’s plenty of weeds scattered about the garden and the grassy bit is no exception. After a couple of “nearly” pictures, I ended up with this one (all photos are clickable for their large versions).


I then spotted something which is relatively new around our house – next door’s netball hoop, which was put up on their wall last weekend. After a quick bit of impromptu hedge-trimming, I managed to pick out this shot, which I think nearly matches the brief of “shape”. A fairly simple, uncluttered image with the triangular-shaped net and the oval of the hoop.

Netball hoop

I then shifted my attention to some of the ants which were frantically scurrying around the patio area. Unfortunately, these are a pain to photograph, simply because they’re extremely small and also because they move so quickly. I tried and rattled-off about a dozen shots before turning my attention elsewhere: I’d spotted a ladybird!

Ladybirds are slightly more sedate creatures, and arguably much more interesting to look at. From over 30 shots taken, the best one seemed to be this:


The large version clearly shows a range of features I’ve never seen before on a ladybird. There’s the hairs on the end of the front legs and the antennae, the texture of the shell (which folds together much more tightly than I’d imagined), plus the way the ladybird’s “spots” are really badly-defined smudges dotted on its back.

Staying with the insect theme, I managed to capture this spider sitting on the nylon barbeque cover, which was pretty good going. He obligingly stayed still for quite a while as I got the tripod positioned correctly.


The final bit of the afternoon ended up being a bit of “reading ahead” to the texture workshop which will be arriving in a few weeks time. I started looking closely at the patterns, textures and saw-marks of the fence panel timber.


Overall, this afternoon hasn’t been a great success for “shape”, so next week will be more of the same.