Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Recent discussions applied

I'll be honest, this wasn't meant to be a text post. I've been on vacation, and I'm waiting on some cool images to run in the paper (on Sunday) so I could post them here. So, my backlog of images is a little low today.

When I chose to post these images, I noticed how they're good examples of information contained in recent posts. One thing turned into the next, so y'all are stuck with a hodge-podge of observations about two mundane images.

Unlike other activities with step-by-step instructions and results, PJ work is a massive explosion of simultaneous options and decisions in a fraction of a second. This is why it takes many years for a PJ to become proficient.

Consequently, trying to describe everything involved in one news image is difficult. Simple images, such as the first one are easiest to describe. Complex images - obviously - are more difficult.

Peer advisor Jessika Johnson, a senior communications major, gives specific educational instructions during New Student Orientation at Lamar University in Beaumont on Friday, June 29, 2007.

Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

The image above uses subtle tools to keep viewer attention and tell a story. It doesn't have dramatic action or light, but the story itself (student orientation) isn't very dramatic. Even though today's images are mundane, they employ some compositional elements we've discussed lately.

In the image above, notice how all the leading lines are muted, yet point back to the subject's face. The style of her hair frames (provides a tangent intersection barrier around) her face. Because the leading lines of the cushions are noncontinuous, the lines are considered finite (or terminal) at the point they go tangent the edge of her hair.

Because her hand is pointing back into the frame, it adds to the image's ability to hold a viewer longer. The three non-prime corners have dark enough elements to keep viewers from exiting through those corners while the entry point is light enough to welcome viewers to the image. Additionally, the background is clean.

I should do a separate post on ordinal corners, but this image is a good example. Simply stated:   the upper left-hand corner in all Western images is often the entry point. The upper right-hand corner in most Eastern images is often the entry point. It's entirely based on how the culture is taught to read text. All other corners are considered non-prime.

While it's best to have dark corners to hold an image together, it's also important to understand the entry point to each image. Because we haven't plunged into eye movement enough, let's clarify for now that the actual entry point is variable and determined by the PJ and subject matter. While the prime corner is often the entry point, it isn't always "The" entry point.

If this image was a commercial image, the color pallet would have been blue rather than red to provide complementary-color contrast as described in the clean background post.

Commercial images are designed in the proper color pallet from the beginning. If hue changes are made afterward, they are seamless and errors (like around the subject's neck below) wouldn't exist. Because the image below is only an example, the hue shift is crude.

Unlike commercial images, which are fictional creations, PJs select the subject matter and must accept imperfect reality. Since the image above was news, it ran in red. Reality happens. I could spend more time to make the change below invisible, but I'd rather make it obvious for this example.

For the record, news photographers DON'T change color hues like in the example below. Some newspaper studio fashion shoots do, but a resulting image MUST be labeled as a "photo illustration." Otherwise, the photographer is lying to the viewers and should lose his/her job.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION - The hue was quickly changed from red to blue to demonstrate complementary color pallet selection used by commercial photographers. Notice how the blue and cyan colors make the subject's face pop off the background. Additionally, red is the most difficult color to reproduce on a press.

When tangents attack
Continuing discussion on the recent post about tangents, the image below is a vast series of tangents. This image is meant to simply be a graphic transitional image in a larger photo story, it couldn't work as a stand-alone, story-telling image.

New students break into small groups during New Student Orientation in the Setzer Student Services building at Lamar University at Lamar University in Beaumont on Friday, June 29, 2007.

The bottom handrail is the largest problem because it captures viewers' attention and leads eyes off the image. At least the lines of each step block eye-flow toward the frame edges (this is good). However, because there isn't a strong focus point, it doesn't work well.

If this was a portrait with a person's face centered within the white area, it would work very well. The handrail lines lead to the landing without intersecting it. The white landing makes a clean background to place a person's face.

FYI, there's a support column to the left of this shooting position to prevent more precise element alignment.

Finally, the color and light quality on some days would provide enough contrast and separation to make this an ideal portrait location (expect to see such a portrait in the future).

Enough for now,

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