Elements of Design: Line
Here's what? We're going to talk about designing a photograph okay? We're going toe we're going to start with the five kind of core components of what what I call elements of design and there kind of ah tangible item that we could find just about anywhere out there in the world so uh line, shape, value, texture and color those are the five we're going to talk about and, uh just gonna head right into it so design is a mix of craft science storytelling propaganda in philosophy when I found this I'm like whoa that's kind of me write a so far with everything I've kind of talked to you guys about I mean that's pretty much the background of my life so it kind of made sense to go back to where I began with design, which was architecture er and trying to figure out how I can cut a fit this into photography platform so to speak so elements of design we're gonna talk about line, shape value think about contrast straight contrasting elements texture and color so the first they're a bunch of diffe...
rent kind of breakdowns to a lot of what we're going to talk about it and the first one is lying and we're going to talk a literal line you think about the lines being generated by the back backdrop of the studio here the lines in the brick of the background those are all literal lines that we can totally see their etched in stone, so to speak, and they're not going any what? Right? So horizontal line now notice in the photograph how you as the viewer enter this photograph, probably from here, we're probably from here doesn't matter the side, but because those lines were kind of going a horizontal, we tend to enter the frame left or right following that line through our frame, right? And if you know that you can set up a scenario when you, when you see something like this as to placement of your subject, if we had somebody sitting on this bench that's on this is a bench on a boat in patagonia that would definitely change the way you entered or left the photograph correct probably also noticed how my horizon is very horizontal, so I'm further reinforcing the lines of the boat with the lines of the background as well, and your progresses into that all right, what's, the hardest thing about creating a photograph is that we are creating a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional world, so if we can get depth, if we can get our viewer into our photograph, they will stay there longer, right, as opposed to just moving on again, transcending the snapshot, so if we have horizontal lines, we have vertical lines now again, talking about this kind of entrance and exit to photograph within a vertical line here we have a little bit different of a scenario going on because our vertical lines aren't going completely through our frame just out of curiosity and you guys in the studio where does your I enter from the top of the bottom top? Probably because the top of the frame is breaking the boundary plane of the frame right where? As opposed to that, the bottom is a little more sporadic, but notice how the bottom of the frame kind of gives you this depth it's a progressive depth into the photograph, right? So as you progress through the trees you come in progress in then what do you see? The mountain bikers. Okay, how about diagonal lines? Could do those okay, who enters here? Yeah, who enters their mean who enters this way? Okay, so everybody's entering from an edge essentially that has a line kind of bisecting, right? So it's a very linear in its composition on the diagonal side but also we have elements giving us what context? Where is the photo being shot? The tree branch the mushrooms, kind of the wetness to the boards, right that all the gives us an idea of where it might be, how about free form line so where does iron are? I enter on the stream well, he either come in starting here, continuing on we don't need the to see the whole snake do we know? So I'm graphically trying to compose this thing so it's not about the whole steak, but what clues us in what kind of connects our emotions with the snake it's, the kind of snake it is right? How do we know what kind of snake it is? The tale, right? That means danger in our world also the patterning, if you know more about snakes, you may pick up and that's a diamondback rattlesnake or something like that. So if it just really you're I could enter maybe from the head that's where you start right connections. Ida I kind of connection or you started the tail at the tail end of the animal and then you're like, then you start kind of pulling together what's going on here about this bottom, right? Because why there's the weight? But still we enter the frame of the shot and we go this way through right pretty cool. This is a tree in the arboretum here in seattle, and I think if you went there right now, you'd probably get this or something close to it, so it's pouring out rain and I really wanted the shot when the tree was in the people color like that so I went down there the cool thing about getting that shot as you're underneath the trees so you're really not getting poured on, but the other thing I did is polarized it light and polarize it gets the shine off because everything in this frame is web do we enter here, follow it through or do we answer there and followed through this way the people the way they progress this canyon kind of becomes that little highlighted element lots of people have shot this frame up here with no people excluding them. The people are walking through that canyon all the time. You know it's, a very popular canyon in arizona but do the people change the way we look at the photograph? Do we have a connection? A stronger connection to this natural environment if we see the people walking through the environment, those are all the types of things I'm starting to think about here okay? So horizontal vertical diagonal free flowing free form now there's depth in this photograph to right it's not a flat plane and that's important too because our eye wanders or I will wander through the frame and kind of out that way so those air actual tangible lines we could see them anywhere we could be outside here in the city walking around we confined probably every one of those in the environment we're in I don't have to go out into the wild to discover it. What about psychic line? What if we got rid of the line is there a line there no, but who looks at his face and then looks down at what he's looking at or who looks at what you see here and back at him so there's this psychic connection right because why we have relationships to people so if we have relationships to people we then make a connection when we highlight a person in our photograph that makes sense to everybody so who's who saw his face first and dollar bill all right, so the two guys that's in raise your hands where were you just kind of kind of encompassing all engrossing or what did you make that connection between this dollar bill and the person I mean is there a connection there for you for sure zipper was disruptive in terms of like that no pocket you're like where did it people that dollar bill out totally shook him down for the five dollars bill too so visual connection between this guy and that guy right if you've ever had snow ever been hit by the snow ball well here is the skiers version of that ripping his skin off covered in snow I see him getting ready to do it and my pack is off and open because I'm taking my skin's off and I just grabbed my camera he said, he's not looking at me, he sees me, grabbed the camera and he waits. I didn't even have to say anything to disrupt the moment, but he wasn't paying attention. He was kind of talking and he just rips and I just clicked. He wasn't happy after that. So where is my subject come from here? And what is the subject to me? It's the kid, right? Everybody in this frame is looking at the kid. We don't know why we just kind of have this. Okay, well, what's the deal with the kids so we start questioning that, and when we question it, then you hesitate. Ok? So then it becomes a stronger photograph for me, and they're actually looking at him because I think he's, about twelve years old, just rode up a ten. I'll ride like, kept up with us the whole way. So he's fairly young and everybody's like, oh my god, I can't believe this happened. And then at the top there a bunch of hunters where there always are. And this was when I lived in colorado. So I kind of knew that this was going to happen in the shooting. An article for a magazine on mountain biking there. And I knew that the hunters were there because I was there riding the day before so like ok, if we can make this all happen I think I think it's gonna work out and you know you just kind of start talking to the hunters what you know are you guys getting anything kind of thing and then the whole thing starts presenting itself and I start shifting around my writers I didn't even have to shift the hunters they were kind of where they wanted. We just kind of moved into their scene right? A psychic connection photographer writer it's a little bonus you know, he's looking at where he's gonna land but she's below him shooting up okay, okay, so we did the one that my daughter pulled off the photo my daughter pulled off of the printer uh that she ruins we did that one I'm like okay, let's I want the boy in the shot, right? You know, I want the sun in there for whatever reason and I'm like ok let's usable prints another one this time we'll do black and white you have colored markers and stuff like that let's try something different she's sitting on it shot with the iphone because he's not afraid of them he's afraid of the big camera not afraid of the iphone ok, well, how do I get him into the shot well, he doesn't see the big black box out he's, you know, he's involved and engaged in whatever he's doing so he's playing so there's, this psychic connection between the two people have seen beyond it, which is the scene of the cascades of by baker, those become kind of the secondary elements to the whole story shooting the article on mountain biking in the tetons for bike magazine, and I literally had fourteen riders with me this night, they all kind of like, we're going to go out with jane, we're gonna shoot photos, and I didn't know what to do because I had never had fourteen people in writing for me, and I actually got a frame way before this one, where there were fourteen riders coming down this sneaking single track, and I was like, well, that's, the shot I needed with fourteen people now, okay, I only need two or three of you now that I can work with, because I can't just mentally focused on fourteen different people. So what do radio? Well, I see this kind of scenario setting itself up. These guys have already written, you know, their bikes or over here already written the jump thing they're talking about, they're talking about kind of what we're doing this evening, and I see that happening, and I go to my friend andrew here and I'm like, go, can you go do it like don't say anything don't I don't want this scene environment to change just go do the gap and he's like, ok, so I just stand there. I'm standing further away from them using like a twenty for one o five lens, so I'm not really involved in the conversation. They're not really paying attention to me. He comes down, and that conversation between them keeps that psychic connection. The guy getting air becomes the secondary piece of the puzzle, so to speak adds another dimension, he's also further into the frame, right? So it's a deeper again, two dimensions, three dimensions. Okay, so psychic line, literal line, implied line. The difference with implied line is that it's theirs. There could be people in it or could not be people in it, but there's kind of a progression of like elements where similar things that kind of go together and set up a line format because these elements, the windmills here in the shot, are the brightest thing in the frame there, white and everything else is kind of a muted brown background. Our eyes probably settle on this progression first, right? So there's an implied line going on here with these windmills, but on top of that, this frame is also highlighting what literal line right free form line it's coming through with the highway it's coming through with roads that access the windmills baron alaska clamming these guys follow them right because they leave a bunch of leftovers so there's a progression they keep this bear keeps digging, walking walking down along the coast on following it ok, well, I've got a straight horizon what do I do? I get really low I want to be on the plane of that animal all right? I want to get us in there instead of standing up at six foot tall well this guy's down here, right? So I'm going to get down to his level notice how blurry my foreground is that because I'm shooting a five hundred millimeter lens of down low in my environment kneeling on the beach these guys follow him in a progression it just lays out like that and it's knowing that that's going to happen or realizing and seeing that that's going to happen that allows me to take the shot so it's a different perspective of looking at a bear I'm not the trophy hunter I'm using them as a graphic designer, right jumpers the show about fourteen riders coming out of the woods coming down this single track all in this kind of progression okay, I figured out what to do with fourteen riders you're going to do this and you're just going to keep coming and I'm going to keep taking shots the prequel this made it into the particle which is nice and then implied line planes similar shape going a direction what happens? Does anybody enter the frame this way now mostly was entered this way right? Because we are directionally oriented that planes go forward planes uncle backwards so we go probably through the frame that way. Now I'm also highlighting what died in the line here, so as we progress through the photographs, you're going to see them become more and more complex remember horizontal line vertical line we start out fairly simple right? And now we're starting already to get quickly complex, but we're still incorporating elements right? And we're incorporating elements that were already talked about so implied line persson persson persson persson dog there's kind of this line connection going throughout the frame I don't care if you see it this way or if you see it that way but it's a thought out progression is a thought out elemental kind of graphic design piece here you know the these are people we can act with there's also visual line right those two are talking this one is engaged with the conversation as well he's not really neither is the dog but they still add to the frame okay, so line relationships parallel lines of these air vertical line scenario, right? But they're also very unified in the fact that they're progressing vertically. I chose to use a very shallow depth of field to highlight just one element, so we don't need f twenty two thirty two to highlight what's going on we figure out that there's some kind of construction progression going on here, it's some kind of built element right now getting into the built elements where I came from construction architecture opposing lines are very grounding think of the structure of your house is think of the structure of the buildings that we are in the building we're in now what happens first we lay down a horizontal line, then we go vertically and we lay down our cars online then we go vertically not progression makes us very grounded. Thus a photo of a scenario like that is going to make us very grounded if the shot didn't have any people in it with their would there be less of a story? I believe so what are they doing? You know are there? Are there any cues here too as what's going on? I mean, it looks like a huge party, right? Yeah, it's actually, these were the apartment buildings overlooking the pride parade in vancouver, so I shot this from street level I did because I had to shoot and pan up to get the shot I corrected the perspective in light room to make it very uniform and square as opposed to showing diagonal lines ok again with this concept of horizontal vertical what do we have that structure supporting structure subject falls on the supporting structure? This is paying attention to details what if I shot him and the line was breaking his face or he wasn't in an available opening right with subject would fail you know that you would have a strong of a photograph so that is the kind of detail that I pay attention to notice how there's like sticks and branches off to the right side but we really don't pick up on that cue because the frame is so graphically oriented and it's about the person question that that up that happened how did you decide where that person would be how did you decide in the first third versus the last third yeah I think what felt good to me from a structural component thinking about this was okay the line swoops down so it's swooping down and it's kind of sweeping down so in that zone I kind of need my person if there's going to be a person they're right because if you were over here he you probably be cut off it like waist high because I'm using a wide angle lens is really close to me so that really wouldn't work then I would have to make him do something weird to get him down so he's in my frame so we make that connection so it kind of just lent itself to oh here's this depression where the structure is that's where my person should be because I think that's where people's eyes are going to go do your eyes go there I mean yeah so sometimes it's kind of feeling sometimes it's like this is where it needs to be but for the most part it's it's kind of ah it's kind of a new emotional thing you know I think in a spirit and experience thing as well I've shot plenty of shots where you know my hikers getting fractured by a line or they're not walking prepped properly or it's just the wrong colors and all that kind of stuff I've done it enough times to know that I want to get people there now we could do this kind of vertical horizontal take on elements slash subjects even in natural environment we don't need the actual physical structural bridge to create a horizontal line right we've always have a horizon in the in the natural world right and what happens if we put a vertical element into it or a bigger vertical mass almost well works the same way feels very grounded doesn't feel like she's gonna fall off does it doesn't feel like the mountains going to go away it's a very grounded photo same idea just taking it into a different environment now if we know that opposing lines are very grounding what happens when imposing lines disappear and we think they should be there so all immediately our brains come up and say uh excuse me there's there's something going on here not quite sure what it is can you help me out right throwing questions again making guys think about things so what happened here was this is a pretty famous bridge near moab utah and somebody flicked a cigarette butt out the window when they're driving down the highway and start a wildfire burning bridge down and it was just it was wasn't an operation it was just a piece of history so that the fact that the base of the bridge was would it burned you know burned with the fire now we have this kind of tension thing way start experiencing kind of environment and if you look at kind of this some of the little trees right here you'll see that there's this burnt environment and then that kind of gets you start questioning things okay so radiating lines give us movements in abstractions you know this line through our frame moves or I through there now why is it directional again the same is the plane right there not riding backwards although some of them can't but they're going forward our brain goes for our mind comes through the frame in this way so I'm trying to pull more balance off to the left side of my frame trying to think about things like that how people react to movements through a photograph ok makes sense and remember the gopro shot from my garage well hadn't snowed a long time in a long time less just like two weeks less winter and I was taken to shoot something and when it started snowing again the snow was just spinning around underneath the light by my garage so I wasn't completely dark yet but the way that the light was lighting this pattern and snow put the camera on tripod took a slower longer exposure and bam here's this abstract idea behind the simplicity of snow falling it's pretty cool, right? I like it also we'll talk about color coming up but there's a color going on their color relationship right again there's a flow through this abstraction love these twisted trees in big sur I mean this is so cool teaching a photo workshop student walks into the frame now instead of saying get out of my friend it's about unlike organ user we're going she is going to be the little element that we discover along the way I don't care how you discovered I don't care if you you know are coming this way or coming that way but she is the human connection and she is a little blurry because she was moving and I could get her standing was a really, really long exposure so I got her to stand still for a long as I could actually get her to stand still for the frame and I think it still works because even though she's not the primary subject the primary subject is tax sharp but again her movement kind of gives that idea of that she is kind of organic in this organic mess kind of thing right? So this is like my version of jackson pollock this spray linds across my canvas as opposed to paint droppings anybody see spiders, aliens right all it is a reads being reflected in the water and the next shot you're going to see he's taken in the same location but completely different. So in this scenario what I have overcast sky the water is moving but it's not moving too fast that I can still get a reflection so we get this kind of circular progression through the frames and then next day go back at sunrise and bam now what have I done? Same material I just found an area where there were less of the pieces in parts and I did one other thing remember, he said we're successful at what we capture both in the field and then after the fact in post processing as well and I flipped this thing around a couple times in light room and decided that even though it's a horizontal photograph I like it vertically because vertically it looks like some kind of african masks slash adornment slash abstraction and that may or may not correspond to the way you look at it but to me it's very graphic and I don't think leaving it I think turning it vertically kind of changes the way you look at it you know it's like the nose mouth face kind of screaming at you so I think it kind of is it's different and again this works by doing this because the reflection is so still that next day okay? And then final line is the guiding line are subject falls on the guiding line, okay? The supporting landscape is the environment that gives us context and there is shot it from here to when he reached there so just like forty frames pick the one that kind of balances out what I'm trying to achieve I think the ones where he entered the frame here we're working just a cz well, but I like the fact that it shows how small we are in this dramatic grand environment you know it takes work to get there you're not just dropped off of the helicopter although sometimes you are that's the those are the fun once again writing my road bike in o'connor there was a bridge that made the connection between kind of schedule valley and courtis and I would ride over this bridge every day and this day overcast light but blue sky right on the horizon right at the end were these converging guiding lines lead right so little splash of color in a very great kind of greedy textural photograph so I pulled out the iphone and took the shop back to writing the casino yeah he's on a breathing the casino and the phillips sixty six or whatever the chevron is right down there yep okay where's their subject at the end of the line very natural organic forced this writing element you know, but steven's pass that becomes by lying to my subject trail line branches all converge to the writer noticed how a lot of the photographs we just like that there is no like rule of thirds I'm not trying to place this subject in a specific spot trying to be very organic about the way I photograph something and I'm trying to look at this thing is a very open environment and that's what's cool about designing a photograph as opposed to actually following a rule based system, right? We're free to do whatever we really want is their kind of some element here that's going to get me to get you to understand where we are, what we're doing etcetera, etcetera I was shooting the reflection of the reeds uh and the coup just swam into the shop and when you're shooting, this stuff needs you there really fast shutter speed because you're seeing on a fast shutter speed, you can hand hold it, so I'm handling this thing and, you know, rampant off, like twelve frames to kind of try and see which one is going toe work the best as far as getting those lines to look the way I want them look and he rolls into the frame and I'm like, get out of there, you know, like, I don't want you, you know, this is about this line, this abstract line jackson pollock thing, and then I go, wait a minute, there's the element there's the missing kind of thing, right? And again with the trees love the trees, fish I know fish, so I'm using these branches and in the spring when the snow starts melting here in the cascades, all of those likens just get this kind of yellow green color to him, and it happens when the when this the weather is warm enough after storms cycles to get more moisture into the trees, and I see that and I'm like, ok, well, instead of just being his blanket white shot, I've got color now that I can use to my advantage, too, and then guiding line right back at you it was in the loose upon steptoe butte and there's, a pile of beer cans off to the right, which told me some kids went up there and had a party the night before, and somebody had chalk in the car, and they started drawing on this stuff into me, that's, kind of the cave drawing that we first looked at when we started talking about, you know, can you be a painter? Well, yes, you can. So very elemental. But I chose, instead of warranting orientate ing myself as the photographer looking down, leading the thie arrows out. How about if we leave the viewer in and the arrows then become about you? So the photo photo becomes about you, and those are the types of things I want you to start thinking about. This is what makes strong photographs, in my opinion.