Monday, 17 May 2010

Landscape - Project 7 - figures in a landscape

The role of figures in a landscape. We are asked to think in terms of

  • Balance
  • Focus of attention
  • Establishing the scale of the scene

    Photograph No 1 is an iconic shot from The Lake District of Ashness Bridge. Photographed many times and used as an illustration in many books and advertisements. From this vantage point we can clearly see the bridge, some of Derwent Water, Keswick and Skidaw in the background. The figures in this instance are offering valuable scale and a point of interest at the thirds of the image.

    Nikon D3  85mm lens. 1/60 sec f16 on a tripod.

    Photograph No 2 shows a fisherman in Watendlath Tarn. The figure here is included solely as a point of interest. The lighting is acute and the figure contrasts with the green background.

    Nikon D3 200mm lens, 1/1250 sec f8. Exposure -0.7EV to reduce the detail in the background and reduce the potential for over exposure in the water. 

    Photograph 3 shows a figure on a wooden pathway across a wetland area near Derwent Water. I included the figure for balance. Without the figure the image has no point where the eye stops as it scans from foreground to the distance. The figure halts that flow. In addition the figure provides scale, as it is difficult, without reference to maybe the house in the background, to understand how wide the footpath is.

    Nikon D3 with 50mm AIS MF  lens, 1/200 sec f11.

    Photograph 4 has figures that are much smaller than in the previous 3. The only purpose here is that the figures provide scale. The scene on its own is clearly a bridge over a river, but how big ?. The figures are not as prominent as I would have liked and looking again at this shot it would have improved by allowing the figures to be on the bend in the path.

    D3 200mm lens 1/1000 sec f8. Exposure -0.3EV to reduce overall tone and enhance figures on the path.


    Whether or not to include figures in a landscape is a difficult question. Often the decision can be made based upon the end use of the image. Photograph 1 for example was shot as part of my Stock and has been used in a book on walking. It therefore had to have walkers, without them the editor would not have chosen it. The figure only works where it provides an essential difference and I would not generally include any without good justification.

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