Project: Points – Exercise 3: Multiple points

Project : Points

Exercise 3 – Multiple Points

A group of objects implies a network of lines and can also create a shape.  The problem of placing several points is to group them together attractively, in a relationship that is active rather than obvious and static. (p. 55 Workbook). What immediately springs to my mind here is a flower or plant arrangement and how difficult this can be.

The purpose of this exercise is to set up a still life using between 6 and 10 similar-sized compactly shaped objects.  The camera is to be fixed firmly in one position aimed down at the background, so that the composition is changed by rearrangement rather than framing with the camera.  The objects are then to be placed one at a time with the aim of producing a final grouping which is not so obvious as to be boring. Once you have the final photograph draw a sketch indicating the ‘lines’ relating the objects and any basic shape or shapes they form.

When I was small I tended to make up stories and act them out myself rather than playing with toys like a dolls house.  I think I regressed somewhat for this exercise because I decided to use some small items we have to see how I could arrange them.  They were kind of a similar size if laid flat although some are taller and rounder.

I decided to set up in the conservatory where there is good natural light and used the tripod as suggested, focussing downwards onto the inside panel of a small coffee table which constituted my background.  To get the correct focal distance I  set the lens at 59mm, f11 being 0.7m away.

No. 1

No. 2

I moved the car to allow placement of Betty Boop and then to add balance between them.

No. 3

Another rearrangement to allow for the inclusion of the dog, with a triangle forming between them.

No. 4

Everything rearranged here.  If I had left the blue/gray car at the front it would have made it appear much larger than it is and dominate the  image. the composition is becoming egg-shaped overall.  There are also two opposing triangles – dog with two cars and Betty Boop with two cars.

 No. 5

This is a cross between an almost circle and an almost parallelogram

No. 6

The final step was to sketch the sixth photograph, indicating the ‘lines’ that relate the objects and any basic shape or shapes that they form.

The objects in themselves are angular apart from the teapot which is round. As a whole they are almost a circle, with a triangle in the middle between BB, the dog and the teapot. .  To me the composition is lacking in coherence because, although two of the objects have eyes which are looking in a certain direction (which may be a distraction in themselves) , they are so different that there isn’t really a relationship between them.  The different colours are distracting somehow as well in this case


I was surprised how tight the frame was and how I had to keep moving the objects around to gain some kind of balance between them.  I was also not happy with the way the camera was focussed downwards and decided that it might have been better to focus on the level of the table instead. I actually did this exercise on the 6th April at a time when I had been wondering whether to compose an entry for the OCA Rollwithit competition just for the fun and experience.  With the learning from the exercise I decided the next day to again use one of our small objects – a Chinese wooden mouse pulling a cart.


This time I used a grey photocard background because I anticipated that there would be some exposure problems between the brown mouse and the white toilet roll (which there were) and hoped that the gray card would ameliorate this which it did.  I had several attempts, using different metering modes and ended up with an image in which the highlights of the toilet roll were hardly clipped and the mouse wasn’t too underexposed.

When I uploaded to Flickr and also the OCA page I was surprised how many positive comments there were and also how many viewings (97 at today’s date of 24th April).  It was fun doing it and  I thought of two more I could do – the mouse offering to rent out his roll and then one including Betty Boop because she’s quite cute and makes me smile.  Because of the timing I just went with Betty Boop and decided that, this time , I would do something outdoors which would seem more natural and try to get right down to ground level which meant no tripod.  Instead I balanced the camera on a book to provide a more stable base and used the remote release so that I could hold down the camera on the book to keep it steady.  Here’s the result:-

To me the composition was coherent, colourful and told a story.  Again there were positive comments but much fewer viewings.  Maybe because mouse was less evident and, certainly, it is a kitsch image which isn’t to everyone’s taste. There were some excellent and creative entries and I wasn’t downcast at all at not winning.  This was a departure from the usual type of images I produce, from the start of the exercise to the final outcome.  It was fun and I enjoyed it.

24th April 2011