A single figure small

The main consideration for this exercise is where to place the figure in the frame  to create the most active image. Returning to Marazion out of season a few weeks ago gave me more opportunity to take this type of shot than had been practical in the summer months when the area was full of visitors. The beaches and surrounding areas were relatively empty and it was just  a case of watching and waiting for the moment to arise. Patience was needed as the brief for the exercise stated “a single figure”,  but more often than not if I spotted a lone sole walking along they were inevitable joined by others as I was poised to grab my shot!  Scale is another consideration—how small to make my figure in the frame? The aim of this and the next few exercises  is to show how people interact with the places they inhabit and I can only show this by using a wide angle of view. One of the points Robert, my tutor, made following my last assignment was to try and focus less on details and more on wider views. Therefore this first exercise will be good to try and put this into practice.


F8        1/8000         ISO 200           @ 70mm           Shade WB 

I tried to keep my figure relatively small and walking across the frame, problem is the horizon is not straight! I also feel the figure is actually a bit too close to the centre of the frame and would have been better kept more to the left hand edge of the frame, capturing the image  before the person actually got to this point . Quickness and decisiveness is really needed before the moment has passed to get the framing and composition correct, something I need to practice and concentrate on.

I decided to use Shade WB to enhance the tones of the image below even though it was still relatively light. The figure is in silhouette as I was facing the sun, hence the high shutter speed. There is nothing in this image that gives any clue as to the identity of the human subject in the frame. He/she is obviously at the seashore but any other details, such as type of clothing, that might help identify this stranger and what they are doing there are missing.


F13        1/5secs        ISO 400       @ 17mm            Shade WB 

Taken @ 6.45pm in October just as the sun was setting.I don’t usually take many landscape pictures, preferring people rather than place, but am enjoying this exercise combining both.This is my widest lens , I wanted to try and convey the sense of space surrounding my lone figure. I used a tripod, I still hate them, but it was essential when shooting later in the day. My poor husband was my trusty assistant, as usual , setting the tripod up and making sure it was level (quite difficult from where I positioned myself). I feel this image works better than my initial image, although though the figure is still not right at the edge  it is walking across the frame towards the viewer, not away, as in the previous image. 

The figure is still unecognisable in this image, the clothing can just be made out,  again there are no real visual clues as to what they are doing there, except walking. Is he/she going home after work, are they a tourist, or something else ?But is my figure perhaps not that noticeable because of the similar tones of the clothing and beach?


F8         1/500           ISO 800         @ 70mm          Cloudy WB

 I have tried to use contrast and scale for this image. 

I framed this so the surfer is at the same point in the frame as the beginning of the island behind him. I feel this helps create movement across the frame as the eye moves along and up towards the lighthouse on the island. His clothes and the surf board clearly indicate what he is doing in this place, but again his identity is hidden by the scale of the image. What this image shows I feel is the link between the surfer and his surroundings, how he is using the space.


F5.6         1/160               ISO 400                @ 35mm 

I feel the figure is much too small in this image, nearly invisible despite the tonal contrast. Looking closer at this image on my computer screen I also realised it was not a lone figure, there are tiny dots further away who  actually other people! However this image does show the vast extent of the place .


F9            1/320              ISO 100         @ 200mm        Daylight WB 

Taken during the summer months this man looked as he was walking on water! One of the rare opportunities I had during the summer months of obtaining a single small figure in the frame. The figure is placed centrally in the frame, I am really unsure if this composition works or not. I keep looking at it and can’t quite make my mind up. A centrally placed figure should create a static image but by  keeping the island behind my subject in the frame the composition is not symmetrical and this I feel helps create a sense of movement across the frame.


F8       1/500          ISO 800              @ 200mm           Cloudy WB 

I think this composition works reasonably well . The dark figure contrasts with the background and is placed at the top of the frame. The expanse of beach to forefront and the small figure help reinforce just how vast this area is, even though I have used a narrower angle of view than for my other images of the surfers. It would be interesting to have been able to have taken the same composition with a very wide angle view,  including far more background information, and compare the two images. However I like the empty space the composition creates.


Panoramic photographs are stunning to view but prior to commencing this course I much preferred portraiture. However I have found this exercise surprisingly pleasurable, even if my images are not particularly spectacular I have enjoyed taking them. One of the personal  joys of doing an OCA photography course is not just what I learn technically but of discovering new ways of visualising  my surroundings , I feel this is just what this exercise has done. I certainly would not have included an unknown person in any of my (few) landscape images prior to the course, but can see how it helps demonstrate how people interact with place: exactly the aim of this course.

 I do struggle making larger scale  images, and this is something I perhaps really need to address.  Is this due to my widest lens being 17mm, which on my camera equals approximately 25mm, and therefore any images I take are not as panoramic as they could be? Or is the reason more to do with the fact that I do enjoy observing the more smaller  details around me, ones that do not get noticed or overlooked?  Small details I felt would be overlooked  in any image on a larger scale but as this exercise has shown me a small figure , seemingly un-important, can create quite a visual impact .

 I have put a prime wide angle lens on my “wish list” for Christmas—-I will have to remember to be good!


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