A point is the smallest graphical element, if you join many points together you make a line. In mathematics, a point doesn’t have any weight at all, it indicates a place. So compositionally, a point has to be small within the frame and its position is generally more important than its form.
Take three or four photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame. When composing the shots use these three rules: the place of the point shouldn’t be too obvious (such as right in the middle), the composition should hold a tension and be balanced (the golden section or rule of thirds) and the point should be easy to see. Evaluate the shots according to these rules and select which one you think works best.
Then take a few more shots without any rules, just being aware of the relationship of the point to the frame. Without the rules, how can you evaluate the shots? That will be a key question throughout the whole degree programme.
Add the photographs to your learning log together with brief observations.
My set up was outdoors with a bike and a small orange ball as my ‘point.’
IMAGES WITH RULES KEPT IN MIND
Out of all the images that I made keeping in mind the rules of third, I think this one (Fig 1) works best. The point (the orange ball) is conspicuous by being in the forefront of the frame along with creating a balance between the bike by leading the eye to the bike in a diagonal manner and provides a balance to the overall frame as well. The point in this frame becomes exaggerated by keeping it slightly closer to the edge of the frame – its not exactly at the point of intersection of the rule of thirds, but this slightly off the grid is makes the image more dramatic and despite it being not exactly as per the rule, this image does comes across as the strongest within the lot, much more so than the conventional at the point of intersection placement of the subject. (Fig 2)
If I compare (Fig 1) to the image (Fig 2) below, placed as per the rule of thirds, at the intersection point, it should work better than the one at the top (Fig 1). But I still believe the image on top works better.
Below are the other shots that I took keeping in mind the rules- they all work in creating the required balanced within a frame. They are a crucial element of the frame, despite being small in size, as their placement gives a context to the bike. The elements all work in synchronisation within the frame and they look balanced and create a link between the objects within the frame.
RANDOMLY PLACED ‘POINT’ SHOTS
The next set of images below are taken with random placement of the point within the frame. In these images, the point really does nothing in terms of adding value to the frame as such. Yes, it does form an element within the different components of the frame and becomes a part of the whole frame but the random placement does take away the impact of the point and makes it just another element within the frame In fact, it appears as an eyesore in some frames as it distracts the viewer and puts a doubt in the mind for its presence in it.
A point is the smallest element and the beginning of any creation. You start a line, a shape, an artwork or be it anything physical in the world with a point. Thats the importance of a point. This exercise aimed at the placement of a point within the frame and the importance of its placement within that frame. Here, the size of the point is small and the placement of it is more important – why? Though the image (Fig 2) appears to be well-balanced and the placement of the point is on one of the intersecting points, the first image (Fig 1) adds a bit of dramatisation to the frame as despite its size the eye goes to the point first rather than the bike and the point kind of leads to the bike. The second image (Fig 2) on the other hand appears to be all balanced with the point being seen as an element within the frame and appears to be a part of it rather than drawing any extra attention to it.
The basic learning from this exercise is that placing objects within the set of defined rules will lead to good compositions – creating balance, weightage and a ‘in-sync’ frame usually. Randomly placed elements within a frame might not have that overall balance that a good image might have. It also goes to show that no matter how small an object is you can make it conspicuous or the opposite of it, just by deciding where you place it. Thats an important learning that will help us create an impact within a visual frame. The difference between the two might lead us to understand what a strong visual composition is all about and what makes or breaks it.
Having said that, according to me the first image is my strongest one – where the point is on the edge of the frame in the forefront. It is dramatising and taking the eye to the point first, which then leads the eye to the bike. It is not exactly at the intersection points of the frame so does not follow the rules in entirety. But it creates an impact point instead. It goes to show that the size of the object might not matter as much as its placement would. The point being much smaller than the bike still gets the attention of the viewer’s eye in the first image in relation to the second, where your eye kind of sees both the elements either with equal attention or sees the bike first. Does that mean that pushing the rules sometimes works? Does that also mean if you didn’t know the rules, would you even know if you are breaking them? Would that also mean that to add a little drama to a frame a placement of an object can be important?
It does help to have done this exercise in order to understand what works and what doesn’t and how placement of an object can communicate different things within a frame. And also it helps to know the rules in order to use them, tweak them or break them.