Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Some weeks ago I was in a studio, checking on some details, when these frame samples caught my eye. I asked the manager's permission to take some shots and he agreed readily. The variety of colours was really striking and the image that immediately popped into my mind was that of a sergeant's chevrons.
Then I went from horizontal to vertical (above) to capture a different mood and a fresh perspective. This time I didn't see chevrons so much as arrow-heads. As you can see, just a slight change of approach can make a big difference.
Now take a close look at the photograph above and the photograph below. You'll see that they even work as optical illusions. Look carefully and you'll see that the sides of each frame look as though they are "bulging" outwards. The bulge seems more pronounced on the shot below - probably because it's taken from closer and is therefore a tighter image.
Then I moved a few inches to the right, and this time I zoomed in a little closer to use the contrast beteen the range of dark wood and the varieties of light wood. Now the challenge was to capture the light faithfully as it played across the different colours and surfaces, producing a dull glow on some of them and a harsh sheen on a couple of the others.
See what I mean about the sheen (above). Honestly, how often do you get the chance to work with light that is falling across so many different surfaces, so distinct in texture, reflection and absorption? In this shot the frame corners actually reminded me of angular boomerangs.
Then I moved further along the wall, because I could see the hardest challenge would be to shoot a close-up, with these medium-timber wooden frames on the left and the gold frames on the right. It's an interesting result, because every single surface has produced a different reflection of the light inside the studio.
But this is where composition becomes crucial. The angular aspect, the irregularity of the arrangement and the sharp 45-degree angles of the cut corners draw attention away from the fact that the light is of different qualities across the image.
Don't be intimidated by light. Don't back away from a challenge. Think your way around a problem and you'll always come up with a solution. Even if you have to look for frame and fortune.
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