The Cyclist and Composition

This next article in our composition series looks at some night photography work. We set out to take some shots and simply walk around with a wide angle lens on the camera and then the camera itself placed on the tripod.

The following images are a reflection of the thought process that went into creating these images.

At first, I was not looking to capture the cyclist, but rather, was looking for trails of lights as the cars passed my camera. Luck always has a part in great photographs and this was one such situation. As I waited to compose my shot, I noticed that a cyclist had come and stopped right in front of the camera. As he waited away for the lights to turn green for him, he stood steady and was able to come through in the frame perfectly. 

As is the case with every compositional thought process, some times your first photographs might come out perfectly, as planned or even better, but this really comes down to luck and an awful lot of practice. Students of my composition class know how to study the subject and all the aspects of the subject. One has to improvise and always be on the lookout for the possibility of other elements that will strengthen the composition. 

Go out hunting for your images. Spend some time within the scene, be critical of your first few compositions and ask yourself if you can do a better job with subsequent compositions. Don't rush with your composition but instead, think through your settings and pounce around like a boxer looking for that special composition where everything comes together. 

In the set below, the first shot was a success. It was an experiment that panned out and subsequent shots didn't make the cut. In the second shot, the lack of light trails relative to the first makes it an instant no no. While some people might like the third, I don't really think it works well for me. So that is a reject too. 

The last two shots are not really worth anything. They have good lighting and textbook composition but there is no story to the image. Having a story telling shot with good composition is what makes a photograph special.

This is why we need to engage ourselves while taking photographs. We need to look around, study the surroundings and look for those stories if we can find them. Often times, they are there, and they will slowly reveal themselves to you, with patience and perseverance...