Assignment 2 – Elements Of Design


This assignment should incorporate the insights learned so far into a series of 10-15 photographs on a chosen subject. The following effects should be shown:

  • single point dominating the composition
  • two points
  • several points in a deliberate shape
  • a combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • diagonals
  • curves
  • distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  • a least two kinds of implied triangle
  • rhythm
  • pattern

The choice of subject groups are:

  • flowers and plants
  • landscapes
  • street details
  • the raw materials of food
  • own chosen subject

My chosen subject – street details


1 – Single point dominating the composition:

ISO500, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec

ISO500, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec – Cow standing in river

The single point in this photo is quite obvious, the brown cow. It’s dark shape is the immediate draw in this image, and slight oddity of it – a cow standing in a river, only enhances that. I think had I zoomed in a little further, then the cow would have been the only point of interest in the image, without the distracting elements of the river bank, reflections or indeed another brown cow nearby. But as it is, the image only helps to better place the cow more assuredly in it’s environment.

2 – Two points:

Chimeny pipes -

ISO320, 92mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec – Chimney pipes

The wider view actually had three chimneys visible, but the chimneys then somehow lost their obviousness, mostly due to their diminished size in the frame. So a zoom in and focus on the two nearest ones helped them to stand out and dominate the largely neutral fore and backgrounds, with their vertical orientation reinforcing the effect.

3 – Several points in a deliberate shape:

Tihar candles

ISO1600, 50mm, f/5, 1/160sec – Tihar candles – Kathmandu

I thought I would try some night time photography at at time of year when candle lighting is a common activity in the local urban environment. I did not especially try to photograph this arrangement of candle points such that it would appear to form perfectly the shape of a circle or oval that I first had an impression of. That would have been too artificial. I only notice now that the arrangement of flowers form an even better circle shape, but are perhaps not as distinct as separate points.

DSC_0077 marked

4 – A combination of vertical and horizontal lines:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/13, 1/125sec – Wooden window grill – Kathmandu

The regular measured spacing of the strips of wood arrayed and affixed perpendicular to each other in this wooden window grill are quite obvious, though the effect the apparent black squares have is to diminishes that quality somewhat. Still, even in an urban environment, arrangements of lines both vertical and horizontal within the same field of view are not easy to find.

DSC_0539 marked

5 – Diagonals:

Roof shingles

ISO400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/3200sec – Roof shingles – Kathmandu

The diagonals in this image are very sharp, reinforced by the material – sharp edged stone, even if the apparent lines they form are not true. The physical squares of stone themselves do not seem to lie in diagonal arrangements suggests by their edges, probably due to their mixed shades of colour.

DSC_0384 marked

6 – Curves:


ISO1600, 58mm, f/5, 1/20sec – Yak cheese rounds

The edges of these yak cheese rounds and their flat sides strongly demarcate a line between light and shadow quite strongly, throwing their curves into sharp relief. I like this image for the balance of light, muted colours and the simple arrangement of it’s elements.

7 – Distinct shapes:


ISO800, 105mm, f/6.3, 1/500sec – Discarded satellite TV dish

For this image choice I was not sure how obvious a shape ought to be, whether it be formed in something of a shape in itself, or a shape formed by some arrangement of various disparate elements in the image. I think in the end I went for what was most obvious, or more interesting. In this image the effect of the bright metal oval (from this point of view) shape almost serves to stamp itself against the background with an interesting contrast.

8 – Two kinds of implied triangle:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec – Children’s swing

The bamboo poles that form this swing, and the line of children standing below it lend themselves to the suggestion of a triangular shape quite effectively. I think the image is as stable I hope the swing appears to be.

DSC_0131 marked

9 – Implied triangle


ISO640, 105mm, f/13, 1/125sec – Candle offering holders

The implied shape of this triangle is probably a stretch in more ways than one. I would say that there is not enough of a compositional balance in the image for it to readily suggest an implied triangle. While two sides are quite strong and definite, there is nothing really to suggest the third side, except perhaps the imagination.

DSC_0576 marked

10 – Rhythm:


ISO640, 52mm, f/13, 1/320sec – Prayers wheels and candle holders

The sense of rythmn in this image come form the very regular placement of the individual elements of each row of items, prayer wheels above and candle holders below. The eye naturally moves along these lines, testing the regularity of the spaced out objects. Ultimately though it is not something that holds the attention, as I feel that there is not much that is “interesting” about the image. A glance is almost enough to take in the scene, identify it’s components and arrangements, then move on.

11 – Pattern:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/80sec – Tihar light display

At first I thought that this scene, of Tihar festival lights lit at night, made an interesting pattern, due to the range of the colours of light, as well as their even arrangement. The sense of pattern though is diminished by not having zoomed in close enough to remove the empty black space at the top of the image. Still, as a pattern I think it’s still quite effective.

Learning Outcomes

For this assignment I was really quite challenged to find some of the elements required. This may partly be due to the sheer jumble of an urban environment a Kathmandu city is, and how clear lines of sight and the close proximity everything is from everything else is. But I also think that I tend to take requirements too literally, and usually try to find clear examples rather those that are enough of a suggestion. Opportunities are thus missed in this way as I tend to only take photos of what I think is most suitable, and discard or fail to consider the potential of all the possible situations that fit the requirement I may come across.

Quite often my photography is opportunistic, an approach that is more “let’s see what happens”, or “what I may find’, rather than a more focused or considered approach. A focused approach generally ends up being tedious if after some point I don’t see or find what I expect. This is a tendency I will need to overcome if I am to satisfy the demands that a specific project might require.

On the whole I enjoyed this assignment, despite the length of time it took me to complete it. That length of time I think allowed me to lose focus of the main aims and points of the assignment so in future I should need to aim to start and finish as if bound by a singular time-constraint, if that makes sense.

Exercise – Control The Strength Of A Colour

There are three qualities that define a colour – bus, saturation and brightness – although most people consider only the first of these – the hue. From now on start to look at colours around you in terms of all three. If you are not familiar with this kind of classification, the second two qualities, saturation and brightness, may cause some confusion. Painting students learn how to mix colours as pigments. In photography we do not have quite the same possibilities. The essential skill you must now develop is that of recognising colours, and being able to describe and compose them accurately.

• The Art Of Photography  (OCA course book), Part 3, What Makes A Colour, p.104


5 photographs of varying exposure. Take one photo for reference of a bold singularly coloured object in a fully automated mode, then 4 more in manual mode (so as to be able to control exactly the necessary exposure levels required). Take two at a half-stop each brighter than the reference image, and two more each at a half-stop each dimmer.


Photo 1 – f/3.2

ISO800, 50mm, f/3.2, 1/60sec

ISO800, 50mm, f/3.2, 1/60sec

Photo 2 – f/3.5

ISO800, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/60sec

ISO800, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/60sec

Photo 3 – Reference – f/4

ISO640, 50mm, f/4, 1/60sec

ISO640, 50mm, f/4, 1/60sec

Photo 4 – f/4.5

ISO800, 50mm, f/4.5, 1/60sec

ISO800, 50mm, f/4.5, 1/60sec

Photo 5 – f/5.6

ISO800, 50mm, f/5.6, 1/60sec

ISO800, 50mm, f/5.6, 1/60sec

I took 5 photos of a something suitably bright in colour at the varying exposures required. Photo 3 is the reference photo, made on a fully automatic setting. The exposure details were 1/60sec at f/4. It’s easy to note how the the images before and after are brighter and dimmer in turn. Brighter not only in terms of the the overall image quality, but also in the apparent actual colour of the material in each subsequent image, ranging from what may first be described as pink down to something closer to maroon. It’s interesting that this apparent shift is due only to a change in the camera’s aperture setting and shows how wide any scene is open to different interpretation. I never shoot in automatic mode, but neither do I shoot in a fully manual mode either. My preferred mode is via aperture control, mostly so as to have control over depth-of-field. The camera typically compensates for exposure by automatically adjusting shutter speed and ISO.

Exercise – Rhythms and Patterns

Repetition has a peculiar but generally very strong appeal, particularly when it is unfamiliar to the viewer. There is some connection here with one of the basic pleasures in music: there is a visual beat to pictures containing a repetitive theme, just as there is a musical beat. Visually, repetition comes across in two ways: as rhythm and as pattern. The difference between them is that rhythm is to do with movement across a picture (or more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture) while pattern is essentially static, and has to do with area. In a more technical way, you could think of these as dynamic repetition and spatial repetition.

• The Art Of Photography  (OCA course book), Part 2, Rhythm and Pattern, p.95


Produce at least two photographs, one conveying rhythm, the other pattern. In rhythm there needs to be a repetitive sequence in the picture, so that the eye follows a particular direction. In the pattern image, there should be no boundaries to the pattern, that is, it should fill the frame.


ISO450, 45mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec - prayer flags, Boudhanath, Kathmandu

ISO450, 45mm, f/5.6, 1/4000sec – Prayer flags – Boudhanath, Kathmandu

ISO1600, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/60sec - Festival - Patan Durbar, Kathmandu

ISO1600, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/60sec – Festival – Patan Durbar, Kathmandu


ISO1250, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/400sec - Soda bottles - Chapagaun, Kathmandu

ISO1250, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/400sec – Soda bottles – Chapagaun, Kathmandu

ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/50sec - Jumla beans

ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/50sec – Jumla beans

Rectangles & Circles

Rectangles – In geometric terms, these are less simple than a triangle, having four side and corners, but in a photograph they can seem more basic simply because they relate to the shape of the picture frame. When a rectangle in the scene or subject fits within the frame very closely it almost disappears from the attention.Rectangles have a special place in an art form that has rectangular images as the end-result. The simplest way of dividing the frame is horizontally and vertically as this automatically creates rectangles.

CirclesIf triangles and rectangles were relatively easy to find, circles are much less so, and depend to a great extent on real circular objects. This limits their usefulness in photography. Nevertheless, a circular shape, when you can find it, is the tightest, most compact and enclosing of any. In other words, it imposes even more structure on the image than would a triangle or a rectangle.

• The Art Of Photography  (OCA course book), Part 2, Shapes – Rectangles & Circles, p.93-94

Whilst not a required exercise, there is a requirement to look for photographs that make bold use of rectangle and circles, which I have chosen to do from within my own photo collection.


ISO160, 55mm, f/8, 1/125sec

ISO160, 55mm, f/8, 1/125sec – Apartment block, Bangkok

ISO1000, 180mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 - London Bus

ISO1000, 180mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 – London Bus

ISO1000, 105mm, f5.6, 1/250sec - mirror reflection

ISO1000, 105mm, f5.6, 1/250sec – Mirror reflection, Kathmandu

ISOISO800, 18mm, f/6.3, 1/30sec - Buddhist Temple, Hue, Vietnam

ISOISO800, 18mm, f/6.3, 1/30sec – Buddhist temple, Hue, Vietnam


ISO3200, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250sec - Child stool and candle

ISO3200, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250sec – Child stool and candle

ISO400, 34mm, f/4.2, 1/125sec - Cannondale SL5 MTB

ISO400, 34mm, f/4.2, 1/125sec – Cannondale SL5 MTB

ISO320, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2000 - Moondance Cafe signage, Pokhara, Nepal

ISO320, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2000 – Moondance Cafe signage, Pokhara, Nepal

ISO2000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2000sec - Home-made pie :-)

ISO2000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2000sec – Home-made pie 🙂

I found that it was easier to find or spot images containing circular subjects or objects than rectangular ones. I guess that’s because circular shapes appeared more immediately obvious than rectangular, which are such a common structure as to go almost unnoticed generally speaking.

Exercise – Real and Implied Triangles

Graphically triangles occur more frequently than any other shape, and they are very useable in design. In construction they are the simplest shape of all, and this has much to do with their abundance. In the same way lines have certain associations, so do specific shapes – or rather, they can associations in some kinds of picture – and triangles, because they have at least two diagonals, tend to create a sensation of activity and dynamism.

• The Art Of Photography  (OCA course book), Part 2, Shapes – Triangles, p.88


Produce two sets of triangular compositions, one using “real” triangles, the other using “implied” triangles.

Part 1 – Real:

  • a) Find a subject which is itself triangular
  • b) Make a triangle by perspective converging towards the top of the frame
  • c) Make an inverted triangle also by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame

Part 2 – Implied

  • a) Make a still-life arrangement of five or six objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.
  • b) Make a still-life arrangement of five or six objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the bottom.
  • c) Arrange three people in a group picture in such a way that either their faces or lines of their bodies makes a triangle.

Part 1

a) Triangle section of bicycle frame.

ISO400, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/500sec - Cannondale SL5

ISO400, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/500sec – Cannondale SL5 MTB

b) Triangle by perspective, converging at the top

ISO400, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/2500sec

ISO400, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/2500sec – Hindu temple at Patan, Kathmandu

c) Triangle by perspective, converging at the bottom

ISO1250, 50mm, f/8, 1/30sec

ISO1250, 50mm, f/8, 1/30sec

I found it difficult to create something suitable for this particular image. I just could not find something that gave the required perspective in which the implied triangle’s apex converged at the bottom until a unique perspective and a willing subject helped point the way.

Part 2

a) Still-life arrangement of five or six objects in a triangle, with apex at top

ISO400, 62mm, f/5.6, 1/30sec

ISO400, 62mm, f/5.6, 1/30sec – Indian ocean sea shells

b) Still-life arrangement of five or six objects in a traingle, with apex at bottom

ISO450, 58mm, f/5.6, 1/30sec

ISO450, 58mm, f/5.6, 1/30sec – camera parts

I think I may have taken this too literally, simply arranging found objects as apparently required. I’m not sure if some kind of still-life arrangement would have been better, but would probably have taken quite some time to arrange suitably.

c) Three people arranged to form a triangle

>>>photo to be inserted<<<