Project: Points – Positioning a point

Part 2: Elements of Design


Identifying the graphic elements in a photograph involves dissecting the image to establish the importance of the role they play.  This part of the Course covers points, lines and shapes that mark out and enclose the two dimensional image.




A single point draws the eye and focuses attention. If a subject is to qualify as a point it has to be small in the frame, and contrast in some way with its surroundings (p.51 Workbook).  My query is, “how small is small?”.  Is it less than a quarter, or less than a half?  I will keep this in mind when doing the exercises.

I noted several examples of points to get me thinking around the topic:-

Horse in a field                        One tree                       Steeple against the sky

Plane in the sky                       Moon in sky                 constellation of stars(?)

Vase on table                           birdbath on lawn         bright scarf/tie on sweater

Shadow/silhouette                    boat on sea                 buoy

Lamp-post on pavement           lighthouse                   person/object on the horizon

Flag                                         statue                          duck/swan on water

Kite in sky                               balloon in sky

Exercise 1 : Positioning a point

Three photographs in which there is a single point, placed in a different part of the frame, in each example. Justify your reasons for each placement.

No. 1 – In the middle

The placement in the centre emphasizes the boat being alone in the middle of an expanse of water.

No. 2 – a little off-centre


I chose three photographs here because I was unsure.


2a (colour)





I’m not sure this can classify as a single point because Dora is there as well (with nose down, snuffling)   However,  Digby is looking directly at the camera and his paler colour makes him stand out as a focus of attention.  This is what I wanted to capture.  He is off centre, although the balance is maintained by Dora.  I made a black and white copy to see if that shows him as the point of focus.


2b (black and white)

To me Digby does look like the single point.



The boat here is just off-centre/above the middle line and I think the placement here emphasises its smallness against the background mountains.


Although the front of the plane is in the centre, its plume extends to the side of the frame and, to me, this makes it an off-centre point.

3 – close to the edge

I was driving when I saw this so stopped and took the shot through the windscreen.  The dark lamp stood out against the blue sky.  I focused to capture just the top of the lamp outlined against the sky and vapour trails.


I’ve realised that I rarely photograph a single point. I usually frame a single person or object either in relation to other points or compose so that they are larger in the frame than would qualify for a point – for example

I went a walk with the dogs this afternoon and thought I’d try again with a single point of-centre.  It isn’t easy with Dora and Digby because they rarely stay still unless they are either rooting around with nose to the ground or asleep!  Here is Digby again and I converted to black and white to check whether he constitutes a point.

29th March 2011