Chapter 2 of The Visual Toolbox asks the beginning photographer to shift their focus from the more technical questions to questions regarding aesthetic.  The more technical questions tend to be:

  • What lens did you use?
  • What camera did you use?
  • What settings did you use?

However, I will now begin to comprehensively evaluate a few of my favorite photographs with more interesting questions to begin to discover the complexities of photography.

What thought and feeling am I trying to to express in this photograph?

In this feeling I am trying to express the feeling of a beautiful, warm summer day.

What role does color play?

Color plays a large role in this photo because the same warm feeling would not be created if not for the blue sky and vibrant yellow of the sunflowers.  For example, if the sky was grey and cloudy the sunflowers would look a lot more gloomy and less vibrant.

What is it about this specific moment that made me choose it instead of waiting a moment or two longer or sooner?

This specific moment was perfect because in my shots seconds later there was a bee pollinating the flower which shifted the focus from the flower itself to the bee.

Are my chosen settings going to change the look of certain elements, and do so in a way that helps me tell my story? 

I chose to process this photograph with the C1 filter on VSCO which enhances the saturation and brings out blue colors.  Although certain elements were changed, the vibrancy of the colors is one of the most important elements of this photo and the filter only enhanced this.

What devices can I use to exclude the unnecessary without diminishing the necessary? 

I used the fine focus tool on the VSCO camera in order to have only on of the flowers in focus because I wanted the details in the flower in front to be more prominent.  I believe this helped me exclude the unnecessary and in doing so helped me bring out the details in the necessary.

What are the relationships between the elements, and can a shift in my position or change in my lens, make those relationships stronger?

The relationship in this photo is between the flowers and the blue sky, perhaps if the second flower was shifted into focus the relationship would become stronger because the flowers would be grouped together as one element rather than individualized by one being in focus.

Where are the lines in this photograph? Would a change in framing (vertical or horizontal), aspect ratio ( square, 4:6) make them stronger or weaker?

I think horizontal framing is best for this photo because the lines of the sunflower are moving up towards the sky, however a longer aspect ratio could have helped stretch this photo even more and would have perhaps allowed more of the stem to be in the picture.

Do the lines lead the eye into the frame or out of the frame, and could I change them to better direct the eye?

For the most part the lines lead the eye within the frame, except that some of the edges of  the petals are outside of the frame.  If I wanted to make the flower in front the prominent focus, I should have perhaps centered it within the frame with more of the stem in the picture so that the line would lead straight up to the center.

What is the light doing? Light contributes to composition, creating shadows, depth, and mood.  Ignoring that shadow means missing a chance to allow it to make the image stronger.

This photograph was taken in peak summer sunlight, there is still shadow evident beneath the flower petals which enhances the detail of the flower. The lights also creates the happy, summer day mood.

Is there depth in this image? Could there be more? Would it benefit from less?

There is depth in this image in that the flower most forward is in focus.  I think this makes the photo strong because the eye is immediately drawn to the detail of the sunflower.  However if there was less depth, both of the flowers and the sky would be in focus which would make for a calmer aesthetic as opposed to the sharp focus in the photo now.

Are there repeated elements in the scene that provide a visual echo or rhythm to the photograph? Could I pull out a little and include more of them, or tighten up a little and include fewer?

There are repeated elements in the scene, for example if I widened my frame, the whole field of sunflowers would be evident which would make for a lovely image.

 

What thought and feeling am I trying to to express in this photograph?

I am trying to express the majesty of these mountains, as well as I was trying to portray feeling at this moment which was the accomplishment of hiking to the peak of this mountain.

What role does color play?

I think color plays a large role in this photo because it highlights the depth and magnitude of the mountains.  The mountains that are closer are a natural forest green, but the ones in the distance are a dreamy blue color that matches the sky.

What is it about this specific moment that made me choose it instead of waiting a moment or two longer or sooner?

Every couple moments the clouds would move and the shadows on the mountains would shift, this shot was my favorite because the shadow from the cloud is hitting a spot on the mountain that brings accentuates the slope.

Are my chosen settings going to change the look of certain elements, and do so in a way that helps me tell my story? 

I chose to process this photo with the C1 filter on VSCO as well, I think that filter always brings out the colors in scenes of natures as well as it adds a very serene and almost magical overall appearance.

What are the relationships between the elements, and can a shift in my position or change in my lens, make those relationships stronger?

The mountains and the sky have a distinct relationship because the shape and pattern of the clouds cast shadows onto the mountains.  In order to make the shadows stronger, setting the camera to less exposure could have been helpful in strengthening the relationship.

Where are the lines in this photograph? Would a change in framing (vertical or horizontal), aspect ratio ( square, 4:6) make them stronger or weaker?

A change in framing could have made the lines stronger because they stretch so long across the horizon, but at the same time I like the vertical framing because it moves the eye with the clouds and how far off into the distance the mountain range goes.

Do the lines lead the eye into the frame or out of the frame, and could I change them to better direct the eye?

The lines definitely lead the eye into the frame because the clouds seem as if they are traveling towards where the sky and the mountains meet in the center of the photo.

What is the light doing? Light contributes to composition, creating shadows, depth, and mood.  Ignoring that shadow means missing a chance to allow it to make the image stronger.

The light adds to the shadows in this photo because the sun is directly above the clouds here which allows there to be distinct shadows on the land beneath each cloud.  The sun also creates great depth in this picture because the less prominent mountains becomes a dreamy line of shadows in the distance.

Is there depth in this image? Could there be more? Would it benefit from less?

There is a lot of depth in this picture because the way the clouds converge in the distance shows how far away the mountains in the distance are.  The change in color of the mountains in the distance also show how far away they are.  Overall, I think the depth details really help convey the magnitude of this mountain range.

Are there repeated elements in the scene that provide a visual echo or rhythm to the photograph? Could I pull out a little and include more of them, or tighten up a little and include fewer?

I think there is a visual rhythm in this photograph in the trees, in the mountains in the distance, and in the clouds.  If the clouds were cut out of the frame that would tighten the rhythm of the mountains.

 

What thought and feeling am I trying to to express in this photograph?

I am trying to create a nostalgic feeling in this photograph.

What role does color play?

I think color plays a huge role in this picture because the red, white, and blue of the flag is brought out in other aspects of the picture. For example, the red of the flag is matched by the flowers at the base of the photograph.  I think there is an important relationship between the colors of the flag and the other surrounding elements highlighting the red, white, and blue colors.  The location this was taken is called Mackinac Island and it is a small island in northern Michigan that is almost like stepping back in time in America.  There are no cars allowed on the island, so bikes and horses are the only modes of transportation.

What is it about this specific moment that made me choose it instead of waiting a moment or two longer or sooner?

This specific moment was important because the horses from the horse drawn carriage were stopped for a moment and their presence completely makes nostalgic feeling of the picture.

Are my chosen settings going to change the look of certain elements, and do so in a way that helps me tell my story? 

Once again I processed the photo with the C1 filter on VSCO because I think it beautifully accentuates the colors in sunny, outdoor settings.

What are the relationships between the elements, and can a shift in my position or change in my lens, make those relationships stronger?

Like I said, I think there is an important relationship between the colors of the flag and the other surrounding elements highlighting the red, white, and blue colors.  A shift in my position could have gotten more of the flag in the picture rather than the horses being the most centered element.

Where are the lines in this photograph? Would a change in framing (vertical or horizontal), aspect ratio ( square, 4:6) make them stronger or weaker?

I think the vertical framing of this picture allowed the most to be captured within the frame from the flowers at the bottom, the horses, the flag, the water, and the sky.

Do the lines lead the eye into the frame or out of the frame, and could I change them to better direct the eye?

I think the lines lead the eye into the frame because the flagpole and flag moves the eye into the photo.  If the flag was a bit more featured by a shift of a position the lines of the actually could have helped with the movement as well.

What is the light doing? Light contributes to composition, creating shadows, depth, and mood.  Ignoring that shadow means missing a chance to allow it to make the image stronger.

The sunlight makes the image stronger because the brightest lighting helps create a white space separating the water and the sky along the horizon line.  The light also helps add to the depth since everything is well lit it allows for many elements to be in the light in this photo.  The sunlight helps add to the happy and nostalgic mood.

Is there depth in this image? Could there be more? Would it benefit from less?

There is a lot of depth in this image because there are trees and Lake Michigan in the distance.  I think this image does a good job in portraying how small this island is in comparison to Lake Michigan because the lake is just beyond the trees and the water stretches far into the distance.

Are there repeated elements in the scene that provide a visual echo or rhythm to the photograph? Could I pull out a little and include more of them, or tighten up a little and include fewer?

The only repeated elements in this image seem to be the flowers.  If my positioning was changed and I got lower to the ground I could have gotten more of the flowers in the shot without cutting off the flag.