Category Archives: Looking Through The Viewfinder

Looking Through The Viewfinder

Exercise – A Sequence Of Composition

This exercise required a sequence of photographs to be taken of a scene, moving from the first initial photograph, to one that would be considered the best. I guess “best” means one that best captures the atmosphere of the place and the people. In this case, I attended an event marking the annual Holi festival here in Nepal. It proved to be quite busy, with plenty of opportunity for people photos. I felt less conscious about snapping away as many people had cameras out themselves.


Photo 1 – Initial image


ISO400, 18mm, f/3.5 1/640

This was the very first photo, taken as I entered the first of many narrow streets leading up to the area of the event.


Photo 2:


ISO400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/500

As I walked further in, signs that a festive mood was in the air, as marked by the presence of numerous trinket and ballon sellers.


Photo 3:


ISO400, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/200sec

Most of the people around me where in heading in one general direction, so decided to go with the flow.


Photo 4:


ISO400, 105mm, f/3.5, 1/50sec

Lots of people were content to sit and watch those passing by on the way to the event.


Photo 5:


ISO400, 66mm, f5.3,1/200sec

Of course, a Nepali festival is not a festival unless there are matronly ladies in attendance selling their…


Photo 6:


ISO400, 105mm, f5.6, 1/200sec

…delicacies! I can personally recommend these sweet and spicy treats!


Photo 7:


ISO400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/80sec

More trinkets on offer for sale. The bigger the toys got, the closer to the event I reckoned I was.


Photo 8:


ISO400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/200sec

The narrow streets widened ahead, and throng of people is sighted. I had to stand on an elevated side paving to try and take in what was ahead (I’m not admitting to being short though!)

Photo 9:


ISO400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/80sec

This lady has probably seen this yearly event all too often before, but still apparently wanting to be a part of it.


Photo 10:


ISO1600, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/10sec

Need some local home brew, raksi, to wash down the spicy snacks! Too much of this and I would probably end up unable to see or shoot straight! A quick indoor shot here necessitated a  lens change (Nikkor AF-S 50mm) and a very wide aperture setting.


Photo 11:


ISO1600, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/640sec

Closer now, and I start to see where all the roads are leading to. Now on my tippy toes!


Photo 12:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/200

It was hard to get an initial photo of the centre of attraction, a masked performance by Newari men celebrating their Hindu Gods.


Photo 13:


ISO1600, 18mm.f/3.5, 1/800sec

I took a step back and widened my cameras’ field of view to take in these who braved a climb up onto some wooden contraption, and probably had the best view of all.


Photo 14:


ISO400, 62mm, f/5.3, 1/320sec

I zoomed in for a close up of the boys.


Photo 15:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/200sec

I shifted my position round to the other side of the festival dance are to get a better view of the masked performers. Could not quite get a clear enough shot. I thought about about elevating my camera above my head and using its swivelling LCD screen to get a better view but decided instead to capture just what I could see from eye-level and work within that constraint.


Photo 16:


ISO1600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/160sec

The local followed the performance of the dancers with rapt attention. My attention now turned increasingly towards the audience.


Photo 17:


ISO400, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/400sec

Another view of the spectators. It was at this point that I actually began to find the audience of more interest than the performance.


Photo 18:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/160sec

The performance held enough of the spectators attention that I could take photos without being too obvious. Nepali are often camera-shy, especially up-close.


Photo 19:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/200sec

Other photographers with a better position than I had…


Photo 20:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/160sec

I wasn’t too sure of the significance or meaning of the performance or the costumes etc. I think as a photographer specifically covering an event, one has to have at least a good idea as to what is going on so as to be better prepared to record the event with some understanding.


Photo 21:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6/ 1/125sec

By now I was just photographing the spectators. More than a few interesting characters caught my attention.


Photo 22:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/100sec


Photo 23:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/100sec

At about this time a group of young men came into view, their faces dusted with brightly coloured powders, which is a typical adornment on this particular day.


Photo 24:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125sec

The young men were somewhat rowdy, obviously already well into their celebrations, and would probably end the night legless after more than a few servings of raksi.


Photo 25:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/100sec


Photo 26:


ISO1000, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/160sec

This is one of my favourite photos from the time I spent at the event, and the one I would consider the best. I love the details in the faces of these two ladies (much more detail is obvious in the full resolution photos than in the compressed and resized ones above) and their expressions, as well as the vibrancy of the colour in the red sari. They were standing quite close to me and did not seem to mind my peering camera lens. This was not the last image I took, I went on to take maybe a dozen more.


Exercise – Object In Different Positions In The Frame

For this exercise, a clearly defined object set against a plain background was required to be photographed wherein the placement of the object in the frame is varied. A walk in a field gave me the chance to find something suitable, in this case a small house, with a field of crops in the background. My position relative to the house was slightly elevated.

Photo 1 – Object as initially viewed, quick composition


Photo 2 – Object in frame centre


Photo 3 – Object off-right centre


Photo 4 – Object at bottom edge


Looking back now, and especially at the wider field of view in the first photo, I’m not sure that zooming in on the subsequent photos was the best approach. I should have retained that initial field of view to be able to compare each photo favourably. I want the detail in the house, as well as the people I noticed sitting to one side of it. However, in order of preference, photos that works best for me are; photo 4, photo 1, photo 2, photo 3.

Photo 4 shows more of the environment in which the house is in, whilst presenting enough detail in both the house itself, the plants surrounding it (mustard) and the background. The photo that works the least is photo 3, and this is because I feel I placed the house on the wrong side of the photo. Had it been placed on the left, then the people would have been looking into  the majority of the frame of the photo, lending it more of natural balance. As it is, the composition seems to be an afterthought.

The suggestion presented by the author of this exercise in the course book (p43):

…keep the camera to your eye as much a possible when you are looking for a shot…

Does not work very well for me. I have the habit of starring intently at a scene and picturing how it might look through the viewfinder. It allows me to rapidly change my focus and area of interest. Also, in some circumstances, where discretion may be required, it may not always be possible to have the camera constantly in front of ones’ face. But I shall of course try the suggested technique as situations allow.

Exercise – Fitting The Frame To The Subject

I was not able to get out for this exercise, or had much time so had to try and satisfy the exercises requirement using an object in the house. In this case, an Indonesian puppet doll called a wayang golek.

Photo 1 – Conventional viewpoint



Photo 2 – Tight framing



Photo 3 – Close up, just part of the subject



Photo 4 – Environmental surroundings



I then used one of the above images to experiment with different crops:

Crop 1



Crop 2





Crop 3




Crop 4