A few thoughts on image composition

Usually, the image format is given by the type of camera, we are using. 35mm, medium format (in its variations like 6×6, 6×7, 6×9), large format and so on.

The use of a digital large format system like the one I am working with (a detailed description can be found here) gives you an enormous freedom in terms of the final image format.

As the final image is composed from a series of n times m single frames, that have to overlap by a certain part, there is a certain free choice in this respect. On the one hand this is great, as also “unusual formats” can be composed, on the other hand image composition is not really straight forward, as the final image is not visible during shooting. In order to get an impression on the covered image section, a few test shots with the camera moved to the very right and very left position on the LF-to-EOS-adapter are a good idea. Once the camera position is found, the tripod can not be touched any more. So, playing a bit around in order to find the right position is more efficient, compared to repeating the shot after Post Production showed sub-optimal results.

Looking at yesterdays second shot, I would like to share a few thoughts on image composition with you.

In the first version of this image , I tried to minimize the handrail on the left hand side of the foreground, as it appeared rather disturbing and cutting into the image. I decided to shot three rows of 5 frames each, in order to get a semi-panoramic shot that would also fully cover the roof-section of the ship.

a few thoughts on image composition, shot 1

Looking at the result after all 15 frames were merged, right away two things appeared unfavorable: The small part of the handrail is just placed in a rather unbalanced way, cutting off a small triangle of the image. Second the famous TV-tower is just too small to be impressive with lots of empty and rather boring sky more or less all over the upper third. In addition the ship vanishes into an unpleasant dark area on the left.

So, I rotated the camera a few degrees to the right, just making sure that the ship is nicely placed on the left side and that the TV-tower is centered in the middle frame as a final “visual resting point” for the eye following the flow of the river. (Again, I was shooting 5 frames per row).

Here, a second composition!

Also three rows of frames were shot for this second shot, only with an reduced up-, down-offset from the middle row, resulting in an image aspect ratio of 4:1,6 instead of 4:1,9 for the first shot.

This image is much more balanced and nicely guiding the eye from the lower right corner up into the center, where the river is passing the “Warschauer Brücke” and disappears into the background. The handrail is now a rather dominant part of the image, forming one half of the “visual guide” together with the peer and the buildings on the other side of the river.

In principle, my personal favorite shot would only show the ship on the left side, but due to the trend of the handrail it was not possible to place the tripod accordingly. Concluding, I would say, making the handrail part of the image – as totally getting rid of it did not work – was the better choice!

My two cents …

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