Michael Freeman states that triangles in photography, “Are the most useful shapes…they are simple to construct or imply…do not need to be in any particular arrangement…they have the interesting combination of being both dynamic, because of the diagonals and corners, stable- provided that one side is a level base.”
His photo depicturing a malaria ward was especially striking, not only because of the shock causing malaria victims to share hospital beds, but also the composition, with a triangle perfectly formed between the patient in the foreground and the doctor leaning over.
What I found most interesting about his study on triangles was that in reportage and many forms of still life ‘the most important thing is to make a clear representation, often in a visually untidy setting.’ Therefore composing the elements into a triangle instantly creates a striking photo that appears to the eye and brings the focus onto these images.
My course required me to take six photographs, real and implied.
Find a subject which is itself triangular( it can be a detail of something larger).
I brainstormed a few ideas and searched the house for some triangular objects but while I was thinking I remembered that Skye, my cat, has a perfect triangular marking on his throat. By sitting him on the chair and dangling a treat just out of the frame I was able to make him look up, exposing the triangle. A wide aperture threw the background out of focus and even though the clock can still be seen, the focus lies on his throat. In the case that this hadn’t worked, I also positioned the points of the triangle on the rule of thirds lines.
Make a triangle by perspective, converging to the top of the frame.
The windmill is a subject I always go back to taking photos of. You can get a different image every time and for this criteria it was perfect. With a wide-angle lens I pointed the camera up at the windmill until it filled the bottom of the frame. The converging lines create a perfect triangle while also giving a powerful illusion of height.
Make an inverted triangle, also by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame.
For the inverted triangle I spotted this tree at the zoo. The arms perfectly formed a triangle. By using the maximum zoom on my lens I cropped out any distracting elements so the viewer could focus completely on the triangular shape. To enhance the shape I upped the contrast slightly. I could have converted it to black and white but I always like colour in photographs as it causes the subject to come alive more. This is the best I could do in the time available to me
Make a still life arrangement of five or six objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.
This part of the exercise took a lot more of thought. It was easy enough to create a triangle by composition but to create an aesthetically pleasing image, that was the hard part. I brainstormed a few ideas, did some research on still life photography and then when I was talking to my sister I knew what to do.
The pool table was only a mini version so I was limited with space and knew that I would need a wide aperture if I was to stop the viewer guessing how small it was. I tried many positions of the camera until I was happy with this one. The snooker cues cross each other thus creating three triangles with the main triangle as the clear focal point. I also added the white ball for juxtaposition and more interest.
Make a still life arrangement as above, but so that the triangle is inverted with the apex at the bottom.
The point of view is from the white ball as it faces the rest of the table. The white ball draw the eye towards the inverted triangle. It is almost like a personified face off. The actual composition took more time to set up, eliminating distractions from the background. I also raised it onto the table so I could achieve a more in depth POV.
Arrange three people in a group picture in such a way either their faces or the line of their bodies makes a triangle.
I travelled to Blackpool seafront where I stood on the comedy carpet in front of the tower. I then positioned my Mum between these two people in the distant so a triangle was formed from the implied lines of their bodies, bringing order out of a cluttered background. This was the exercise I found hardest because I was wary of taking photos of people and putting their photos on the Internet. I will have to research the laws according to this for when I start the next level of my course, People and Place.
Using shapes in photography composition and design is one of the most immediate ways of bringing a viewer and the actual photo together. Using shapes lets the viewer immediately be drawn into the image, causing it to be more aesthetically pleasing and bringing order out of a possible disorder of elements. You could just take the photo of the scene and hope that the camera does all the work for you, but you have to remember photography is a huge competitive market, with DSLR’s, Bridge cameras, compacts and phone cameras all capturing amazing images. If your photos don’t have that extra zing then you’re going to fall into the way pile of all the other wannabe photographers out there. But if you stop and look at the composition, think how to bring equilibrium into the scene then you are taking the first step to ensure that your photographs stand out. Next is Rectangles and I’m looking forward to starting it.
These are a few photos I took for this triangular exercise that didn’t make it into the final photos.