Category Archives: Animals, Plants and Nature

Animals, Plants and Nature photography

TAOP: Part 3 – Colour: Exercise – Primary and secondary colours – Green

This is my fourth post for the colour library exercise on primary and secondary colours – and is the first of the secondaries.  A bit more background is in the first post - Primary and secondary colours – Red.


I really don’t have to go far to get something that’s green.  I’m living in the MiddleOfNowhere(TM), surrounding by green fields, including some garden areas with ever-greens.  That said, there are a wide variety of greens, so getting something that’s a reasonable match for a ‘pure’ green isn’t as simple as it appears on the surface.

Closest Match

The ‘correct’ green isn’t uniform across the image – there are a lot of different greens due to shadows and how the sunlight lit the leaves.  I think the closest green to the colour feel is around the water droplets on the closest leaf.  Shot on ISO 100, 1/60s, f/8.

The Alternatives

Over-exposed (f/6.3) and under-exposed (f/10) don’t really produce good matches – though I don’t think the under-exposed image is that far away.  The over-exposed image produces more ‘lime greens’ I think.

Next I’ll post the second of the secondaries orange, and that’ll go up either tomorrow or Monday.

TAOP: Part 3 – Colour: Exercise – Primary and secondary colours – Red

The second exercise is part of the project ‘Building a library of colours’ and presents the painters colour circle based on the primaries of red, yellow and blue and their ‘complementary opposites’, green, violet and orange.

The aim is to match each of these colours as closely as possible by taking a few shots at slightly different exposures of subjects that match them and choosing which one is the best match.

The exercise says not to rush it, so as to avoid choosing only ‘man made’ colours; which means I couldn’t just nip down to B&Q and photography the paints in the paint aisle.  I expected to find it more difficult than I did to find colours, but I actually found things which I think match reasonably well within a short walk of my house.  Bonus!

I’m going to post each colour individually.  And I’m starting with red in this post.


So, despite not really being the season for colourful plants, red isn’t that difficult as there are plenty of red berries around-and-about (animals sensibly heading the warning the colour implies).

Closest Match

Shot on ISO100, 1/200s exposure and f/5.6 aperture (manual).  The berries were reflecting the sunlight due to their glossy surface, so there are areas where they tend to appear slightly orange or pink – but out of the three shots I felt this was the closest match across the image.

The Alternatives

There wasn’t really a great deal of difference at 1/2 a stop increments so I went for an entire stop in either direction for the other shots below.

The darker image below (f/8) is very close, but I felt was perhaps a bit too deep a red to match the colour circle.

The lighter image below (f/4) has more orange in it, as well as the red tending towards pink, so isn’t a close match at all.

Tomorrow I’ll post my ‘Blue’ pictures.


TAOP: Project & Exercise: Using lines in composition

This project has one exercise within it which I’ll post here with learnings too.  Having looked a the different types of lines, the aim of this project is to develop consideration of using lines to organise or strengthen a composition.

Important points:

  • the eye follows a line.
  • the eye will ‘construct’ lines from appropriate suggestions as a clear line provides a natural path for the eye to move along.

We will also image lines – closing gaps – with the eye and brain resolving incomplete things using a few suggestions or clues to image a line.  The project lists the most common clues:

  • a row of points (that is objects).
  • the extension of a line, or lines, that seem to point in a  certain direction.  The eye moves ahead.
  • the extension of visible movement, such as a car being driven or a person walking.  Again, the eyes move ahead.
  • the direction in which someone in the picture is looking.  The viewers eye tends to go to the same place, known as an eye-line.

These are known as implied lines and can be used to subtly direct the viewers’ attention.  One use of design in photography is to organise a picture in such a way that another viewer will be encouraged to look at it in the way you want.

Implied lines are partly hidden, so they ‘nudge’ the viewer to the point(s) of attention.  Clues should be provided rather than getting carried away with controlling specifics of how an image is viewed.

The project states the workings of both real and implied lines are very specific.  They depend on the individual circumstances of a picture, and are not easy to generalise.

Exercise: Implied Lines

The exercise starts by providing two example photographs and asking me to find the implied lines, sketching them on a small direction.

Provided example analysis


There are a few implied lines here – from the direction the matador’s head is facing, to the movement by the cloth and the straight lines of the cloth too.

Corn Threshing

Here there is a relationship between the lines – pointing back-and-forth across the image.  The eye-line of the horses and their handler are the main implied lines, but the arms of the handler also provide an additional pointer back toward the horses.

My own examples analysis

The exercise goes on to ask me to find three of my own photographs to perform the same analysis on.  I’ve done this here, providing the original and then a black-and-white version showing the implied lines.

I’m no superman

Here the eye-line point toward the mirror.  It could be argued there’s another line pointing back again, given it’s a reflection.

No photo!

Once more it’s basically an eye-line implied line, though just in one direction here.

Yorkshireman in Rome

Once more, this is an eye-line implied line.

Planned photos with implied lines

The final part of the exercise and project is to plan and take two photographs that use the following kinds of implied lines to lead the eye:

  • an eye-line.
  • the extension of a line, or lines that point.

(ISO100, 1/200sec exposure, f/4.0 aperture – shot on manual with flash fired)

As with the examples, this is an eye-line implied line and is fairly obvious and distinct.

Extension of lines
(ISO100, 4sec exposure, f/8 – shot on manual, tripod mounted as the image was static and I wanted to use available light) 

This is a more complicated effort.  I’ve arranged the knife, butter lid and butter tub to create implied lines toward the bread.  The edges of the chopping board also unintentionally create lines too – but two of those help with the intended direction as the plate and bread is located on the corner of the board.

Additional points on lines in composition

The project concludes to show how lines can be used to perform a very different function – animating a picture; particularly with the use of diagonal or curved lines.  If a line in a  picture encourages the attention to move out of frame, they eye then moves back to see more.  The to-and-fro effect creates tension and activity

TAOP: The relationship between points

The next exercise in the ‘points’ project is about the relationship between two points within an image.  In these images it’s no longer a case of a point’s relationship with the frame, but with the points’ relationship with each other – which now dominates the composition.

The exercise asks for three photographs which illustrate two points.  I will highlight which point is stronger and why.  Additionally I have included an example of a ‘special case’ where both points attract attention equally.

As with the previous exercise, I have included  a black-and-white conversion to illustrate how the points relate to each other.

(ISO400, 1/160sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – shot in aperture priority mode essentially to save time as I wandered around a village taking shots.  At the distances shot this gave sufficient depth of field and ensured I could quickly capture things as I walked around).

In this image the female duck tends to catch the eye first.  As well as being closer, it’s side-ways on position increases it’s size.  Had the drake been in a similar pose it may potentially have drawn the eye more – if only for the fact it is more colourful.

(ISO400, 1/400sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – this is part of the same shoot, so it’s still on aperture priority and I’ve not changed the settings).

In this image once more the nearer bird on the right appears larger and attracts the eye, before the line of the bank and it’s tail point back towards the bird on the left.  In this case it is simply the lines and size which make the right-hand bird the stronger point, as there is no difference in colour to draw attention to either bird more than the other.

(ISO400, 1/200sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – shot on aperture priority as part of the same shoot which produced the above images)

In this image the bench is clearly the stronger point in the image, before the eye is drawn to what it is pointing at – the goals on the football pitch.  The trees do confuse slightly, especially the one to the right of the goals, however I still think the clear direction of the bench toward the goals ensure that the two main points of the image are distinct and their relationship clear.  In an ideal world though I’d want to take this shot where trees and other objects didn’t interfere with the intention of the shot, however I wanted to produce something a bit different than the first two examples – which I have achieved.

Special Case – Eyes
(ISO200, 1/200sec exposure, f/4 aperture – shot on manual and with flash to ensure the eyes were well lit in otherwise poor light).

As described in the exercise, there is no clear strongest point in this image.  The eyes are of equal size and relative position in the frame, so neither draws more attention than the other.  I found I did have to crop out the nose and mouth however to ensure the eyes weren’t competing with other areas of the face – hence the narrow crop.

TAOP: Positioning a point

In this exercise the aim is to experiment with the different positions a point may be placed within a frame.

The exercise defines three basic classes of position for a point:

  • in the middle.
  • a little off-centre.
  • close to the edge.

It goes on to add that the centre very rarely works, because it creates a ‘static’ image.  As mentioned in my previous post I have a bias toward rule of thirds as I quickly found positioning off-centre improved my photos when I was learning in the early days – and this exercise supports what I’ve learnt previously.

The exercise asks for three different images, which I’ll talk about below.  I’ve included a black-and-white conversion of each to help more clearly illustrate how I’ve positioned the points relative to the frame.

(ISO800, 1.3sec exposure, f/8 aperture – shot in manual on a tripod due to low light indoors) 

This is as ‘in the middle’ as I dared to go – but it’s still a little off-centre.  I cropped the image as there were a lot of distracting elements in the background.  This was taken about 6 or 7 weeks ago and I was in a foul mood with this particular exercise, hence not reshooting it.  I think the notebook is on the verge of not qualifying as a point; whilst it does contrast with it’s background it’s actually quite large in the frame as a result of the cropping.

The black-and-white shows how the frame is divided by the subject.

(ISO1600, 1/200sec exposure, f/8 aperture – shot in aperture priority with a narrow aperture to ensure a broad depth-of-field and high ISO due to low light and to ‘freeze’ the action) 

In this image the ‘point’ is the man in the kayak.  I’ve placed him at the top, toward the edge, to illustrate him moving off in to the distance – with the part of the canal he’s moved through already showing what he’s travelled through and emphasising that is movement is away from camera.  While I think, for the most part, this works I think the image could be improved by showing a small region of the part of the canal he’s moving in to to emphasise that there is more distance to travel.

Again, the black-and-white version is included to illustrate how the frame is divided.  As well as the ‘point’ of the kayaker, the bank of the canal also emphasise the horizontal division of the frame.

(shot on iPhone, so fully automatic  ISO250, 1/20sec exposure, f/2.4 aperture – though that doesn’t translate directly to the size of SLR apertures) 

This is a much more conventional positioning on a point at an intersect point of the top and right-most thirds of the image.  This was very much an opportunist shot – hence shooting with the iPhone.  The contrast between the red of the ladybird and the green blanket really stood out, so I realised it would make a good example shot for this exercise.  As this particular exercise is about composition, rather than technical knowledge of my camera, I figured that it didn’t matter what I shot it with (and I only had my iPhone to hand).

The black-and-white image once more illustrates how the frame is divided.