Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Split Composition

Screen Capture taken from October 12, 2015 on-line issue of the San Mateo Daily Journal*
The Belmont Fire Department was holding an open house to give the community a chance to get "up close and personal" with some real fire engines and to meet some real fire fighters. I wanted to experiment with mixed inside/outside light situations, not realizing that the Journal had already assigned a student photographer to make a photo, and she submitted this image (Photo #1) for publication. It was accepted, and eventually published.

When I first saw the photo, I thought I was looking at two separate images. The junction between the side panels of truck and the chrome steel panel beside the control panel form a nearly unbroken line which sits on the half-way point between the left and right halves of the photo. This contributes to the "two photo" illusion. The effects could have been minimized by placing this juncture either to the left or right of center, preferably along one of the two vertical "rule of thirds" lines.

Photo #2
I submitted this image (Photo #2) which was made with the same theme as the first. I this case, I composed the image to include more of the right two-thirds, since all of the human interaction occurred there. I wanted to emphasize the human side of the encounter, and the appearance of pride by the firefighter. The unbroken vertical  side panel/sheet steel junction has much less of an impact when its farther from the center. I might has experimented with the composition more if another parent hadn't been standing right next to me, camera right.

You can see the difference an on-camera fill flash can make. I can essentially ignore the shadows and expose the highlights for improved color saturation. The fill light puts light, and detail, back into the shadows at a level that compliments, but does not overpower, the highlights. If you look closely at the fireman's face, you can can see that the highlights on his forehead, while overexposed, are relatively small. The fill flash provides plenty of detail.

Photo #3
I liked this particular image (Photo #3), even though I didn't submit if for possible publication. By using my "palm bounce" technique, I was able to through some light into the cramped, black interior of the fire engine cab. I would have loved the shot if I could have gotten a fireman (or firewoman!) beside my young subject. That's probably why I didn't submit it, although I did send a copy to her mother.

* I did not have access to the original image, so the quality has been severely compromised.