Assignment # 1: Geometry

As I’ve recently gotten a new camera, and much more time on my hands since finishing graduate school, I thought I would take some dedicated time to intentionally work on my photography skills. I’ve gotten a lot better over the last few years, but it’s mostly been by accident and lots of practice. I wanted to work on getting consistently excellent shots, so I purchased one of the best books out there for working on portraits/etc: Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs. It came highly recommended.

The first lesson was on Geometry- seeing shapes in the environment, in framing, and for balance. The assignment was to find 5-10 examples of squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and converging lines, and photograph them, ignoring everything else. I took some photos around my house, then ended up going to the Harn Museum of Art, a free art museum we have here in Gainesville, FL.

I tried to edit these as little as possible- just a smidge of lighting adjustment and cropping/rotation if necessary. I spent probably 1-2 minutes per photo in post processing, rather than the 4-5 I usually spend.



Square Pot. Profile is broken up by the leaves on the edges.
Square frame- not perfect and it’s not my favorite. But it’s a frame.
One of my favorite opera chorus pieces to sing comes from this opera- the Anvil Chorus. Definitely could have done something better with this setup though.
This is a terrible photo. Squares are really hard to find.


Rectangle was more of the frame here- I also probably could have cropped it squareish.
This photo was so difficult to get- I have a lot of difficulty capturing lines in a symmetric, straight on way. My camera angle is somehow always off to the right or the left. Maybe I’ll try this shot later with a tripod.
The prompt said “ignoring everything else”, but here I could have done a much better job shooting this without my silhouette in the frame. It cuts up the rectangle, which defeats the purpose.
I really like how the framing on this one turned out. It was honestly unintentional. I was just trying to capture the profile of the statue for fun, and realized later that the display case around it made an excellent frame.


Self explanatory- trellis.
There wasn’t anything interesting in the center of this triangle, but at some point there probably could be.
Not really a triangle- this is cheating.
When I was using the magnifying glass I noticed that the light could be manipulated to focus a spotlight in certain areas. This one came out pretty well.


The swastika used to be a symbol of peace, as shown here in Korean ceramic art.
I really have no idea what this stoneware sculpture was supposed to be. But the end was a circle, so there you have it.
Had to try a few shots to get the focus right on this one.
Lots of fun with magnifying glasses. I probably could have centered the eye a bit more. A lot of these shots were quick and dirty since I was not going at my own pace. 
Partial circles on a sphere-ish vase.

Converging Lines

This picture is kind of busy, and the lighting/editing is not typical of a “finished product” for me, but I really like it for some reason.
This could have gone in rectangles, too, but I liked the way the vines converged at the top to frame the seating area.
Plain stairs- also difficult to capture given my inability to correctly hold my camera when symmetry matters. Ha. But it turned out okay.


Things learned from this assignment:

  1. Squares are hard to find. Most things are rectangles.
  2. Bring a tripod.
  3. “Ignore everything else” is kind of hard, and geometric shapes are really only (obviously) one part of composition.
  4. Work alone, and with dedicated time. Going through the museum with Jorge was a really fun afternoon, but it was difficult to get some of the shots I wanted because he (quite rightly) was getting annoyed with me spending fifteen minutes staring at a window or putting a magnifying glass in his face. 😀

This next week I’ll work on the next chapter and assignment: Balance.


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