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TOPIC: 2019 Schedule - May Topics

2019 Schedule - May Topics 11 Jan 2019 11:04 #5439

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Feel the Emotion (Albany Interclub Topic)
An image using body language to show the emotion. Not the face. It could be human, animal or birdlife. (Albany Interclub topic)
Body Language in Composition
Body language in a photograph never occurs in a vacuum. Other elements of the image influence how we interpret the physical appearance and posture of the subject. Consider the role of body language in the overall composition of the shot:
Angles and Lines: How do the lines formed by the person’s arms, legs, head, hands, and body interact with each other, other lines in the image, and the frame? Do they reinforce each other, as in feeling peacefully horizontal, firmly vertical, energetically diagonal, or do they compete with each other in interesting ways?
Shapes: How do the shapes formed by the person’s arms, legs, head, hands, and body interact with each other, other shapes in the image, and the frame? Consider the psychological meanings associated with those shapes. For example, circular formations of the body suggest unity and enclosure, as in hugging oneself - while triangular shapes imply groundedness, as in standing with feet planted wide and firm. But is there a diagonal line elsewhere in the photo that threatens to pierce the circle, or an indecisively curvy shape wiggling behind the subject with strong akimbo legs? Does a subject’s body and outstretched arm form a boxy, claustrophobic square with the frame, or perhaps a dynamically tilted triangle?
Movements: Body language can present movements of closing in, contracting, opening, expanding, crossing, coming closer, and shifting away. How do other aspects of the image influence these sensations – such as a receding perspective, the visual rhythm of repeating elements, bubbling bokeh, blur, and gradated changes in tone, colour, shapes, and complexity? Do they supplement, balance, or contradict those movements?
The body language of a single subject in a photo can be very intriguing, but things really start getting interesting when we see the body language of two or more people interacting with each other.
Consider:
Personal space: We all have this invisible zone around our bodies that we consider our own personal space. Only people with whom we are intimate are allowed into this zone. When anyone else enters it, we might feel intruded upon or threatened. Think about the discomfort of being in a crowded elevator. In a photo of two or more people, can you see the personal spaces of the subjects? Does the size of the space vary for different people? Is someone inviting, tolerating, or trying to eject someone else from that personal space?
Distance and Proximity: This overlaps with the idea of personal space. We can think of physical distance between people in a group as possibly indicating the degree of emotional closeness between them. Who is standing next to whom? What people are far apart? Generally speaking, the more physically close all the people are in a group, the more cohesive that group is.
Orienting and touching: Touching, looking at, leaning, reaching, or pointing towards another person might also indicate intimacy, or the desire for it. Is the direction of this body language one-way, or reciprocated?
Clusters: Every group of three or more people tends to have subgroups – i.e., people who feel more bonded to each other than to the other people in the group. In a photo you can often see the subgroups as clusters of people who are physically closer to, orienting towards, or touching each other. Sometimes you’ll see people positioned between clusters, as if they belong to and provide a link between those subgroups.
Loners: People who feel less attached to the group, or have been overlooked, ignored, or ostracized by the group members, tend to stand off to side, lean out, or look away from the group.
Position in the group: The position people assume within the group shot might reveal something about their psychological status in the group. More dominant or influential people tend to stand in front, in the centre, or above others; more submissive or less influential people stand behind, below, or off to the sides. Standing above the group might also indicate protectiveness, as if the person is watching over others. Notice also if people are being crowded out of the shot, or are trying to squeeze their way in. What might that say about their role in the group?
Group shape: The shape created by the group might reveal its psychological characteristics. Curves are relaxed. Straight lines and distinct rows suggest formality. Circles, as in a group hug, indicate unity. Triangular formations feel secure and grounded. Think of the classic “stable” family shot in which two parents are sitting below a child positioned between them. The parents provide the visual and psychological foundation of the family unit.
Body contact: The way people look when they physically connect to teach other speaks volumes about their relationship. Hugs might look tentative with lots of space between rather tense bodies, or they might look as if the people are emotionally melded into one. Notice if the various elements of body language are consistent with each other when people connect physically. Are the arms, legs, hands, torso, and face all conveying the same emotion, or are they each saying something different? Is someone looking away when they are kissing? Is one arm hugging tightly while the other hangs limply at the side?
Position in a Room
If you’re shooting an event, consider the possibility that where people sit in the room reveals something interesting about their personalities. Teachers and public speakers often notice this. People who sit up front want to be close to the action or to the person in charge of the action. They don’t mind that others behind them might be looking at them. People who sit in the back might be the slackers who want to doze, the observers who like to get the big picture of what’s happening in the room, the suspicious types who protect their backs, or the people who want to avoid attention or attract it by being the rebellious heckler in the back of the room. Those who sit by the windows might be the daydreamers who like gazing into the wide-open space outside, while those who sit by the door anticipate a quick exit. The shy people might sit somewhere in the middle of the group, hoping to blend in inconspicuously.
The Cover-Up and Inversion Methods
Here are two simple strategies for deciphering body language in a photograph, including both the psychological meanings conveyed by the body language as well as the role it plays in composition. First, use your hand or a piece of paper to cover up some parts of the body while focusing on others. Cover the head to see more clearly how the body appears. Cover the body to focus on the facial expression. Cover the left side of the body, then the right... the top, then the bottom. Hide one person to focus on the other, or one part of the person to see how the other parts relate to the body language of the companion. Playing with these variations will help you concentrate your attention on specific areas of body language while also realizing how those parts relate to the whole.
Also try examining the image upside down. That unusual perspective can help you notice aspects of body language that might have eluded you in the upright position. You might also try covering different parts of the image as described above while you look at the image upside down.
Consider also your own body language during the shoot. Portrait photographers often discuss how interacting with subjects influences their poses. If body language has a subtle, unconscious effect on people, then why not use it effectively? For example, to help a subject relax, avoid your own anxious body language and assume a calm, receptive posture. Psychotherapists have discovered that if you mimic or reflect back someone’s body language, even in a subtle manner, that person will feel understood, which would certainly encourage a subject to allow a revealing portrait. Experimenting with body language possibilities in a playful way with your subjects might help everyone relax as well as open doors to interesting poses. Tyra Banks tells her models to push a posture or facial expression to its extreme limits, then pull it back. If possible, why not model that for the model? Activating body language activates emotions, and that’s what a good photo is all about.

Open (Royal Show Topic)
Any Subject that us treated pictorially, embodying the elements of good design, arrangement or composition, which reflects the personal interpretation of the photographer.
Photographers can do great photography anywhere; however, it sometimes can take a little inspiration to get the wheels turning. The most important thing is to walk out the door frequently. If you think you are not going to capture any interesting images then you are not going to walk out the door.
Take a long walk, anywhere, at any time and challenge yourself to capture an interesting image.
As an “Open” subject try to challenge yourself and the judges by exploring topics and genres that you don’t normally venture into.
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