During our recent trip to Ireland, my wife and I ventured down the Mullet Peninsula to visit Deirbhile’s Twist and a few other spots in the area. This article features some Deirbhile’s Twist composition choices.
While the structure evokes thoughts of ancient locations like Stonehenge, Deirbhile’s Twist is actually fairly recent. It was created in 1993 by artist Michael Bulfin. Existing granite stones were raised and placed in an ascending spiral configuration.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
As you can see, the landscape in this area of Ireland is relatively flat and barren. The challenge when photographing Michael Bulfin’s creation was choosing how to compose images to best portray his artistic work.
My first thought was to accentuate the overall size and expanse of the structure by photographing it from a distance. To give it a more elevated appearance, I held my camera close to the ground and composed my photograph by flipping out the rear screen on my camera. I used the rock footpath as a leading line and chose a mid focal length to compress the photographic elements to some degree.
I also tried some vertical compositions with my camera held low to the ground. This time, I used a wider angle focal length. This had the visual effect of pushing the artistic structure further away. Using the rock pathway was an obvious composition choice. So, I looked around for something else I could incorporate into an image.
I noticed a small pile of boulders and moved in behind them. By placing the boulder pile in the bottom right of my image it served as a corner anchor. To give this element a good sense of balance I made sure to use equidistant composition from the bottom and right hand edges of the frame.
Making the main subject of a photograph the ‘hero’ by having it fill the frame is a tried-and-true approach. For the image above, I used a long focal length to help visually compress the elements. I shot from a lower position, making sure that the stones of the structure would only have sky behind them. This helped give them visual emphasis.
As I got in closer, I looked for individual stones and shooting angles that would emphasize various parts of the structure. In the image above, I used a triangular stone as a corner anchor. It also served as a subtle leading line that pointed to other components of the structure.
You’ll notice equidistant composition technique used in three different ways with the triangular rock. This helps create a good sense of balance on that side of the photograph. (Hints: look in the bottom left-hand corner; the distance from the top and bottom of triangular rock in the frame; and the lengths of the horizon breaks on the left-hand side).
Looking for some dramatic lighting, I moved to the inside of the twist. I captured the image above while positioned in dark shade. I used a subject bleed on the right hand side of the composition to force a viewer’s eye to the left. This helped create reader eye flow.
It is always a bonus if we can find a corner anchor that also serves to launch a strong leading line. We used this technique as one of our Deirbhile’s Twist composition choices.
As seen in the above photograph, a subject bleed can also serve to launch a leading line.
If we get in really close to a corner anchor and apply a subject bleed, it can act as a partial reveal. This can create some additional drama and interest in a photograph. A strong feeling of intimacy can also be created when using this approach.
By keeping a few, simple ideas in mind we can add some interest and variety to our photographs even in some challenging situations. The Deirbhile’s Twist composition choices noted in this article provide some examples.
All of the photographs in this article were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 equipment. If you would like to find out more about the Nikon 1 system, you may find our eBook The Little Camera That Could of interest. The eBook is available for purchase and download. It is priced at $9.99 Canadian. Readers interested in purchasing a copy can use the link below.
All photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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