Tuesday, 6 March 2012
The Composition Of An Image Starts Long Before You Press The Shutter
I want to talk about composition and I will use this shot as an example to what I am waffling about.
Most people believe you compose a shot at the time you put the viewfinder to your eye and press the shutter, you should have gone through this process long before you even held your camera to your eye.
This was a shot I composed on the way home from work after a night shift, I saw the sea mist roll in up the estuary, I saw it hit the town of Runcorn as I passed over the bridge, I saw it roll toward the church, I carry my camera back and forth to work as I catch early morning light after a night shift. I knew were I had to park up, I knew I had a run to get here but I knew from the quick glance I took over the bridge as I drove over there were pigeons flying in and around the belfry.
Once I had gotten to the location it was a question of two aspects of the image coming into play, the mist being deep enough to be seen but not too deep you lose detail from the town structure, the second was in the hands of the birds, I wanted a single bird flying from the church, if need be I would have used the flock but the composition in my mind wanted a single bird, I struck lucky.
The composition though took place in the car, on the drive home, watching the mist, some 10 to 15 minutes before I hit the location. How is this possible?
I knew from that spot on the bridge I could look over the town, one of those times when passing you log a spot in your mind for a shoot that might happen, this was one of those times. The composition of the shot took place several weeks before when I noted the location, how is that possible?
I knew from past experience you get fog and mist that rolls in, its a late winter early spring shot, the sun is warm enough to start to burn off low lying fog, as the land and water start to warm up the mist rises with the warmth, remember all those lessons you had in school about how rain is made, this is it only emphasised. The composition of the shot took place several months before when I decided to Google the question "what causes sea mist"
All the elements of the shot were there, it was a case of waiting for that one moment when I press the shutter button, a lot of things here you have no control over whatsoever, if its going to happen it will happen. What you do have control over is the ability to be ready for when it does happen, stage one is knowing your locations, sometimes the rest just slots into place but what might appear as a lucky shot may take a lot more preparation than first thought.