Tag Archives: Picture Format

To Crop or Not to Crop… That is the Question

An example of an image used where the crop has a significant impact

An example of an image used where the crop has a significant impact. This is a header from this website. The image is cropped specifically because of the content. The shape of the crop is also a design element in its context.

Cropping is not a simple decision

When we take a picture we may well decide that although the capture is good, we will need to crop the shape of the picture later. Cropping, the act of cutting a picture shape for a specific purpose, is something all photographers wrestle with at some point. In fact it is quite an involved subject.

The image of the peppercorns in the site header was taken using a macro lens. As a result the picture was cropped wide and thin to cut out the bokeh on either side of the depth of field. However, as you can see from the placement of the picture it is also a strong element of the page design and so it had a specific crop to suit that situation too.

Our new entry into the photographic glossary today is a detailed article…
Definition: Crop; Cropping; Cropped;

Photographers Still Project Their Images

Showing your photographs to others is an essential part of photography

Sadly many digital photographers today have never used the slides that were once so important as a medium for display. We happily slotted dozens of slides into ‘carousels’ and fed the latter into a slide projector. They got stuck, they burned, they were upside down sometimes… wow. A really bothersome medium… but great fun. Families used to spend entire evenings displaying holiday slides to friends in a kind of ritualized boredom session destined to end in high beer consumption. Today we never do these things. I think it is a loss.

Photographers get a certain amount of gratification from showing off their best pictures. What is the point if you don’t. You spend all this time and money on your photography and then you have a limited outlet. Or is that really true?

Of course a lot of people are using social network sites to show off their pictures. However, there is such a lot of social network ‘noise’ out there that sometimes the impact of your great shots is lost. And, if you are doing it on Facebook the image compression is often damaging – leaving behind artifacts, colour banding and odd highlights.

If you want to show off your shots you have the option to display them via a laptop to your family, or you can route it through your TV. However, the size of most TVs leaves something to be desired. Big projection screens like the ones used for slides in yesteryear are not in use so much these days.

However, you might like to know that large-size projection of digital images is alive and well. I am a member of two photography clubs. At least once a month we have a ‘Projected Digital Image’ or PDI competition. At other times we project images for talks, discussions and activities. These days ye-olde slide projectors with carousels are largely out of use. Instead we use the same projectors that are much loved by company executives for displaying PowerPoints. Have you seen one of those? An image display system for projecting the slides for your talks, debates, lectures and lessons.

Yes, we regularly see our photographs displayed to a large audience and often have them commented on by judges and other club members. Showing off your photographs to a large audience and celebrating your photography is a great way to get feedback and to help improve your shots. They really do look great in a really large projection. Watching the photographs that others have taken is also a great way to learn about composition, technique and artistic insight.

There are hundreds of clubs across the UK and all over the world. Most of them have Internet sites and many show off their best shots on the site too. Most of the clubs in the UK have come to the end of this season – we all want to go off and take pictures for the summer. However, if you spend a little time looking at a few club sites you can get ideas for shots to take over the summer. Then come September clubs nationwide will welcome you to a new season.

Have fun and look out for your local club. You will learn lots about photography and make some great friends too. Well, I am off to a motorsport event first thing in the morning with two friends from one of my clubs. So, it is time for me to get some sleep. Have fun. Enjoy your photography.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Record Shots – a definition

Record shot - old airliner cockpit

Record shot - old airliner cockpit

The way a photograph is taken differs according to the purpose of the shot. In this post I define what is meant by a record shot…

Definition: Record Shot(s); Record series;

Definition: Record Shot  | Glossary entry

Record Shot

 A record shot is where the emphasis is on creating a record of the photographed object. you are not trying to portray the object in an artistic representation.

A record shot for your own use

Take a shot of a bird in your garden. In its simplest form it just captures the bird as it is seen. However, professional photographers and competition judges what to see some interpretation of what that bird is like in nature. So the more interesting shots will show it eating, or fighting, or showing some natural behavior that is not just “being a bird on a stick”. Likewise, other wildlife are always more interesting when they are, so to speak, in action. These ‘in action’ shots are NOT what we would call a record shot. The record shot is the straight forward representation of the detail of the object, animal or whatever you are recording. It brings out the essential essence of the look and feel of the subject. It does not include behavioral or interpretive art.

Reasons for taking a record shot

A record shot may simply be a shot you take to remember you have been somewhere. It may show you have done something. Your shots as records could be, for example, a complete insurance inventory for your house. Then again, it could be the birds you are following in your garden. As you can see, there are a whole range of things you might want to take such shots for at home.

The record shot is important to the professional

Record shots are increasingly used in a professional context. It’s normal for such shots to be retained for future reference (archived). They often form a history of the condition of an object.

Record shots are frequently used to record items for valuation, especially for insurance or recovery purposes. They may also form part of the ‘provenance’ of an artwork – proof of its origin, history, condition and ownership. They are often used to record work-flow, project progress or to validate contract completion. The latter may include a record of progress for legal reasons.

Increasingly, the staff headshot is used for the records of the organisation. They may be used in the front office operations. Head shots inform the public who the staff are and their names. But the headshot is also used in the back office for personnel reasons and staff record-keeping. These shots have now become part of the rich lexicon of legal and professional management of the company.

Record sequences and time considerations

Multiple shots are often taken for record purposes. This creates a complete record from all aspects of the item for a given time. Normally, the shots follow logical and straight-forward points of view. Thus, a record of a car might be taken one from all sides and above; one of the engine, boot (trunk) and interior shots.

A Record shot, or record series, are often taken periodically. This creates a complete set of time-period shots. This historical record sequence is used to determine changes, deterioration and updates – including repairs.

Record shot expertise

Record shots require their own expertise. Record shot photography provides a complementary background for other materials. Documents, reports and scientific work all require documentary images forming a record for the work. Artifacts and historical pieces are photographed for cataloguing, publication, preservation, valuation and repair.

Considerations when taking a record shot

Taking a record shot is not always straight forward. The photographer needs to provide a complete record of the item. All angles and aspects of the item need to be considered in a complete series. Also, one must be careful to ensure the photography does not damage it (e.g. camera flash can damage manuscripts and paintings). Consider that some items need careful handling, mounting or arranging. This is especially the case where historical artifacts need to be recorded for preservation purposes.

In insurance, engineering, science and medical records very specific or precise angles and perspectives are required. Record photographers often follow pre-set procedures to ensure representative comparable images. There is also a detailed set of metadata records required to go with this type of work. It will ensure the proper cataloguing and filing of the images.

Record shots are frequently the recording method in forensic and investigative science. Such shots are often used in court proceedings. High photographic standards are essential. forensic proof is a very precise science. The work must also include professional record keeping of the forensic photographic process itself.

The background in a record shot

It is simply impossible to separate out the detail in some pieces when there is a complex or difficult background. When taking a record shot you should be careful to pay attention to the background. Make it simple, appropriate, devoid of unnecessary detail. If possible provide a blank background, proper lighting and ensure effective use of contrast to separate the piece from the background. These are essential to make sure the proper details are preserved in your subject item.


Contribute A Definition?

Send us a definition of a photographic word or phrase...

Send us a definition for our list of photographic words and phrases. Simply write a clear definition and send it in. Include an original picture if you wish. Give us your name and a link to your website and we will credit your work.

Warning! Are You Breaking the Rules of Composition?

Colours, like most things, are interpreted by cultural convention.

Colours, like most things, are interpreted by cultural convention. Such conventions are not really rules. They exist as guidelines and to help us be understood by others.
Lanterns at Chinese New Year

In art the use of the term ‘rules’ is of limited use. Generally, nobody goes to jail for breaking the rules of art. There are however, perfectly acceptable ‘conventions’. Although they may overlap, these conventions are broadly of two kinds. They could be:

  • The established viewpoints of those who sign up to a particular school of art or come from a particular culture. This is a way of ‘seeing’ or interpreting the world through ideas.
  • The conventions that represent a way to describe how humans respond to their body and senses. These are guidance to artists based on observations of our behaviour as biological organisms in a physical, measurable world.

Photographers, as artists, are free to accept or disregard both these approaches. ‘Rules’, in art, are accepted by convention alone.

Cultural conventions and the viewpoints of a particular school of art are important. Western art is in contrast to many of the Eastern, Oriental conventions in art. In Europe the colour red is strongly associated with love, romance, anger and perhaps baudyness or seedy places. To be ‘in the red’ is associated with financial ruin or debt.

In Chinese culture, by contrast, red is associated with good luck, friendship and wealth. It symbolizes good fortune, joy and happiness. Red is found everywhere at festivals and especially the Chinese New Year and family gatherings. Red is associated with traditional and financial gifts. The colour is taboo at funerals as it represents happiness. To the Chinese, red is a different concept to the view that Westerners take.

How you use a colour imparts different meanings in your photographs. Context is important to conveying meaning through colour. Cultural background is important to the interpretation of the colours you use. Context and culture are different things in art. They can of course overlap too!

Violin and Candlestick by Georges Braque, A pioneering Cubist. (Wikipedia)

Violin and Candlestick by Georges Braque, A pioneering Cubist.
Click to see Cubism on Wikipedia

While culture affects the way an artist works, so do the various schools of art. For example ‘Cubism’ is the an artistic approach pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Subjects are broken down into angular and abstracted forms. A new sort of art results, displaying depth, space and surfaces in ways not seen in the real world. People who sign up to this interpret the world through the Cubist view – deliberately ignoring the ‘rules’ which reflect our understanding of reality like perspective and depth.

What are the rules of composition? The ‘Rule of Thirds‘, ‘Golden Ratios’, the rules of perspective, the principles of art… and many others are really just guidelines. We accept them by convention because they help us to make sense of the world and the art we view. They have two important foundations. First, many things we see in the world we can measure or verify. Secondly, if people around you respond to and understand something then that shared convention helps you to communicate with them artistically. These two things are important. Together they help people understand art.

Well known rules, like the ‘Rule of Thirds‘, have an accepted success in the visual arts because they produce pleasing, artistic results. The concept of having a picture slightly off-balance (to the thirds) seems to make a picture more interesting, dynamic and realistic. Things in nature are rarely perfectly visually balanced. Putting something on a ‘third’ is a good guide to being more ‘natural’.

Knowing that people share cultures and approaches, or apply measurable, verifiable rules is important. It allows us to understand what is going on and helps us to interpret things – like your picture and other art. Knowledge of something does not destroy it’s effect. It helps us to interpret it. Consequently, we accept and discuss these ‘rules’ as if they were powerful and absolute.

We are NOT slaves to these rules and conventions. Sometimes the symmetry in something is worth pointing out. If you have spotted a beautiful bridge your photo of it is a testament to lovely design, a beautiful setting, a symmetrical aspect, a wonderful geometry… whatever you feel about it. You do not have to make the picture conform to the ‘rule of thirds’. If you think the symmetry is worth highlighting, then use a symmetrical position. Break the rule! Throw away the convention.

The same disregard can be said of cultural conventions. If you step outside those conventions you introduce humour, disquiet or discomfort in your viewer. That disquiet can be an important form of emphasis or a message to the viewer. By breaking the rules you can speak very powerfully to your viewers.

The only understanding we have of the world is through our own senses and ideas. If it makes sense to you then fine… just do it. When it comes to art, sometimes the rules help to make things work. They even make the art understandable and sometimes impactful. Break the convention, the rule, the expected, or the norm and you could well be creating something new, emphasising a different approach. This can be equally, or more artistically effective than sticking with convention.

Know the rules… be prepared to break them. It can provide a new perspective for your viewers.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Quadtych – a what?

Original title :: Definition: Quadtych

This page is now at a new URL…

If you are not redirected then click the link above.

Fantastic Colour Work

A Swedish artist, Sanna Dullaway, works with some old pictures and colourises them. She does restoration work and on occasion colourises old photographs of well known people. What superb work! Here is are links to some of her work and sites where she shows colourised photographs.

Link via imgur.com   External link - opens new tab/page

Here is Sanna Dullaways’ flickr album for colourised photographs from black and white…
Colourised black and white photos   External link - opens new tab/page

And, here is her album for restored photographs…
Restoration photographs by Sanna Dallaway   External link - opens new tab/page

See Sanna Dullaway on ‘deviantArt’…
“MyGrapefruit” on Deviant Art   External link - opens new tab/page

Triptych – a Three Part Image

The presentation of your pictures can be done in an uncountable number of ways. The Triptych is a common and interesting method that can be a lot of fun to shoot and to mount…

Definition: Triptych

Definition: Triptych | Glossary entry


Three moments in a ducks life

Three moments in a ducks life

Defining a Triptych

A triptych (pronounced Trip’tik), when applied to photography, is a group of three pictures. It could be three photographs mounted in a frame, closely associated pictures displayed near each other or three pictures in one image.

The subject of a triptych is an important defining characteristic. The pictures should have a common theme. This could be a story, similar compositional elements, colours, similar subject matter – anything that draws the pictures together as a group.

The image shown above is a triptych of pictures in one image. The origin of the term applied to three paintings on hinged wooden panels. They could fold into each other making a flat carrying pack. Originally the triptych was used for religious paintings. However, in modern times the format has been used in a wide variety of different situations and presentations.

Competition photographers often make an effort to ensure that the pictures are not only related but have a definite order. In the triptych above the duck is shaking its tail in the first image, then the other two show succeeding stages of the drying-out process. An order may be applied to a triptych in other ways too. For example the first picture may be a portrait of someone facing to thier left. In the second portrait the same person faces the camera. And, in the third they face to their right. The order shows all aspects of the subjects face, but the inward-facing heads on each side also create a compositional frame by implying a boxed-in middle shot. It is common for photographers to use compositional elements in this way to create an overall effect across a triptych.

Creating a Triptych

If you simply hang three photographs with a common theme on the same wall, you have a triptych. However, mounting them in a frame creates a well defined ‘holding’. Presenting them as a single image is often what is required for competition photography or for framing the image to put on a website. Here is how you can create your first triptych in your favourite image editor…

  1. Assemble your story or grouping of three images.
  2. Crop the three images to the same scale, size and shape.
  3. Create a new blank canvas wider than the three images.
  4. Allow for a border between them and all around if you want.
  5. Colour the blank canvas to the colour you want the borders.
  6. Paste the three pictures onto the new canvas.
  7. Arrange as appropriate leaving equal borders as necessary.
  8. Crop the final image to suit your border or to tidy the shape/size.
  9. Save the new canvas with an appropriate file name.

It is not essential that the pictures are the same scale, size and shape. However, it helps to do it that way until you understand the process and get a feel for the format. When you have done a few you can try all sorts of creative ways to lay them out. Have a look at these links and see if there are some triptych layouts that catch your eye!

Triptych Group on Flickr
A search on Flickr for the term “triptych…
Diptych & Triptych Gallery

Triptychs are compelling once you get into them. You can spend hours arranging your shots in different ways. Have fun!
See also:
Google search: photomozaic  External link - opens new tab/page
Google search: photomontage  External link - opens new tab/page


Contribute A Definition?

Send us a definition of a photographic word or phrase...

Send us a definition for our list of photographic words and phrases. Simply write a clear definition and send it in. Include an original picture if you wish. Give us your name and a link to your website and we will credit your work.