Looking through the Viewfinder – A sequence of composition

Exercise: A sequence of Composition (Workbook p. 28)

The aim of this exercise was to help me to think about the practical process of composing an image by recording the way I approach and shoot a subject.  In this instance I had to record all the moments that were ‘almost right’ and to use the camera viewfinder as a way of checking out possible pictures.


Newlands Corner, Surrey is a popular area for walkers and their dogs and also bikers who gather there especially on a Sunday to meet/greet and compare their motorbikes.  I thought this would be a good place to carry out several of the exercises and the photographs for this particular exercise were taken on our way back up the hill and our car.

We were nearing the car park and I was slightly behind my husband who is on the right with our dogs.  I spotted a man in orange jacket ahead.

I was approaching the man in the orange jacket but then, to my left, I saw a group of people who looked as if they might be getting ready to walk.

No.  they were getting ready to leave so I continued past them.

As I rounded the blue car I could see the man in the orange jacket going into the Visitors Centre and then I spotted a young couple with a dog coming towards us.  The girl was wearing a cute hat.  This looked promising!

They were approaching quite quickly and panic set in as I didn’t want to be too obviously poking my camera into their faces.  So I chickened out of what could have been a good shot and turned towards the two men I could see on the left.

If I had been braver/cheekier, or a man who knows quite a lot about bikes, I could have approached and started to ask questions about the bike and slipped in a request to take a photo.  However, I’m neither of these, so I turned further

I and captured a nice pontytail.


Well, I did a little better than I thought I would because at least I did take some pictures of people rather than trees!  I am usually very inhibited about taking photographs of strangers as I don’t want to offend.  A few days afterwards there was an interesting discussion theme on the Flickr OCA group page about this very thing.  The male students were referring to ‘shooting from the hip’ and whether or not this was a good idea.  I was actually relieved that most of them did say they felt inhibited to greater or lesser degrees.  Someone referred to setting up his tripod (which aroused interest) and then doing nothing but just sitting there until everyone forgot about him. I think that’s it!  There’s just enough of a trait of narcissism in me to think that everyone is looking at me taking photographs when usually they are too busy going about their daily life.

This last weekend (5th February) we went on a morning photographic ‘mystery walk’ in the City of London with ‘Hairy Goat’ which I discovered through some discussion, again, on the Flickr OCA group. I can certainly recommend them. Afterwards JB and I went to Borough High Street Market and had an enjoyable hour or so wandering around admiring all the fruits, vegetables, food and people.  I put away my Canon 500D and, instead carried my much smaller Ricoh GDR3.  I took quite a lot of photos and, at one point, we were admiring some bright red Chinese lamps. In fact, one of the ladies kindly held one up for me so I could photograph it.  As I turned away, a pebble landed a little way in front of me and when I looked up I saw two young men smiling at me.    They gestured – “What about us?” so I raised my camera and they nodded.  Here they are:-

Their English wasn’t too good but when I showed them their picture on the screen they said, “Good.  Tag us on Facebook!”  Well, I don’t know how to do that as I’m not on Facebook but here they are on my blog!

It’s one thing to try to take unobtrusive pictures of unaware people or take a photo of them with their own camera, at their request,  but quite another (albeit a little disconcerting) to have people actually coming up to me and wanting me to take a shot of them with my camera.

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