Bovine beauties

This post is my learning log for exercise 1 (positioning a point) and exercise 2 (the relationship between points) in the TAOP project “Points. Each of the pictures is a click-able hyperlink to a larger version of that picture. All the six pictures of the post are also shown on this page.

Positioning a point

This part of the exercise asked me to take three pictures in which the subject is a single point, placed in different parts in the frame in each example, and justify the reasoning.

Picture 1: Crazing Cow

The frame divided by the Gracing Cow

The cow is placed to the right of the frame, to create space in front of it, so it can”walk into the frame”. It is centered vertically; this was done without much deliberate thought. Given that green grass is already an important part of the composition, I suppose it would have made sense to place the cow higher in the frame, to include more grass, and thus make the cow stand out more.

Picture 2: Park bench

The frame divided by the park bench

The bench has an implied direction; we know how benches work, and that you’re meant to sit on it and look at the scenery. It faces to the left. So I deliberately placed the bench at the left side of the frame to create some tension – what would a tired rambler see, if he sat down here? It gives a less harmonic view than if the bench had been placed at the right.

Picture 3: Airplane

The frame divided by the airplane

The plane is flying towards the right, so it has been placed to the left in the frame to give it space to “fly into”. Vertically it’s a bit above the centre line, but as there is no horizon in the sky, I don’t think that impacts the view much. The treetops at the bottom are included to give a sense of direction and scale.


Graphic relationships with the frame

The exercise goes on to ask me to “consider the graphic relationship that the points have with the frame” and notes that “the point implies a division, as in the exercise positioning the horizon“.

Next to each picture, I have placed a black and white version showing how the frame is being divided by these implied lines. I think the division is clearest on picture 2, where the upper left quadrant created by the lines contains the sky and the horizon, whereas the other three quadrants seem to work as a foundation for the picture.

On picture 3, the background is very neutral – apart from the trees, it’s all a featureless blue sky. While I can see that there is this implied division, and that placing the subject away from the centre makes the picture less static, I’m not sure what else to make of it. It feels like the division is only useful if there are something in the background, like in picture 1 and 2.

The relationship between points

This exercise asked me to photograph two normally occuring situations in which there are two points, and then compose and take the pictures without preconceptions.

Picture 4: Two grazing cows

Implied relationship between the two cows

The two cows are roughly the same size in the frame, so neither becomes more of a focal point than the other. There is a slight angle between them. Despite there being no focal point in the physical centre of the frame, there is a very static feel to the picture. This is because of the equal visual weight the two cows have, and the mid-point between them being the centre of the frame. Had I thought more about the picture in advance, I should have ensured that one of the cows had been more in the foreground, to allow it to dominate the picture more.

Picture 5: Two eyes

Implied relationship between the two eyes

One of my newfound bovine friends also posed for a close-up of her beautiful eyes. Eyes are normally very strong focal points; humans, as well as animals depend on being able to interpret other animals’s intentions by seeing their eyes in a split second, in order to know whether they are faced with a friend or a foe. The two eyes seem to “fight” over the viewers attention. This creates a tension, and it becomes a difficult picture to “read”. Whilst it’s an interesting effect, it doesn’t make it a relaxing picture to look at – despite cows being such relaxing animals.


Bonus picture


Since I was making friends with the cows and following them around, I took a couple of pictures outside the exercises as well. They are such peaceful animals, and seems to be happy as long as they’re left to graze.

I can warmly reccomend cow photography as an enjoyable and relaxing hobby. Although they’re not exotic, dangerous animals, and although you don’t have to travel to Africa to find them, they are still photogenic well worth a picture. And as a bonus, they tend to move slowly enough that it’s easy to walk around the herd and position yourself, and unless spooked, they are amongst the most peaceful animals you’re likely to encounter. I know I’ll be going back to check up on them over the comings months, before they are taken indoors in October.

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