I named this shot “W” for the character that is suggested by the implied line of the structure’s silhouette… and I couldn’t think of anything more interesting. My feelings for this shot are lukewarm. On the one hand it doesn’t really “wow” me and on the other hand I was drawn to it in a way that I couldn’t just let it sit hidden away on my hard drive. This is one of the interior walls of Quin abbey, looking up through the roof which decayed and fell through long ago.
A friend sent me a video this morning that was hosted by B&H (the company I typically get my photo gear from) which covered, in depth, several topics related to artistic composition within photography. Though most of the video was a review of concepts I’m quite familiar with, the one thing I did find interesting was a reference to a photography essay book called “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthe. Barthe discusses in his book two categories which attempt to describe how we react or respond to photographs: Studium and Punctum. Basically, studium explains our reaction to an image we like; it’s technically nice, pleasing to the eye and doesn’t have any major compositional errors but you’re probably not going to remember it when you go home that night. Punctum describes a rare kind of image that engages you in a way above and beyond studium. This is the image that leaps out to get your attention and resonates with you long-term. This is the image that you do think about as you’re going to sleep that night because it had that great of an impact on you. As photographers we shoot thousands of images that will fall into the studium category and maybe one in a thousand (or one in one hundred thousand) will have that punctum quality. The only way to close that gap is to keep shooting, keep critiquing and keep asking others to critique your own work.
So, with all that said I have here an image I’d put into the studium category. It was a tough exposure to get because I was on the side of the wall with no direct sunlight looking into a bright sky. Over exposing would blow the highlights and lose the cloud detail and under exposing would lose the detail in the walls. Given that scenario I am pleased with the balanced exposure I got. As far as compositional balance goes, I chose symmetrical balance which I think works well for this subject. It’s not terribly dynamic but it works. The main problem I had was with framing the shot; I feel the top is a little crowded and I would like to see a little more space above the tower but if I tilted my camera up then I would have cut off the bottom window shape which would have been awkward as well. I could find no ideal solution so I compromised the space above because I thought it would be worse to have the window silhouette cropped out at the bottom.
The goal in creating this blog was to make sure that I’m creating art regularly. Even though not everything I post will fall into the punctum category I think it is important to keep sharing. This shot is one that wouldn’t make the cut if I were creating a portfolio or exhibit but I liked it enough to share with you so here it is in all its mediocre glory!
5D Mk III with 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM lens. ISO 100, f/10, 1/250 sec.