Tabletops and Chairs

When travelling we can sometimes find inspiration in everyday life… like these tabletops and chairs that I photographed while in Italy a few years ago. There are numerous visual factors that can catch our eye when we’re out walking with a camera in hand. It could be splashes of colour. A flow of geometric shapes. Or something that compels us with its simplicity.

Walking tours by their very nature tend to be time compressed. This can make it difficult to absorb the visual stimulation that is all around us. In these situations I do my best to walk around with ‘wide eyes’ and not initially focus on anything in particular. This seems to help me experience a broader variety of subject matter as I allow my mind to wander through the visual stimuli around me.

While this particular article features images associated with tabletops and chairs, they represent only a small fraction of the subject matter that I photographed.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 37 mm, efov 100 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-800

The high contrast of this tablecloth caught my eye. To get the black squares to focus eye flow towards the napkin holder I decided on a vertical composition and purposely cropped the black squares into triangle shapes so they all pointed towards centre frame.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, ISO-200

Sometimes a singular item jumps out at me. I offset this bottle to the left side of the composition to add some left to right eye flow. Rather than capture the logo on the bottle square on, I chose an angle that allowed the label to be slightly cropped to lead a viewer’s eye to the right hand side. I used the black plastic shape behind the bottle to add to the left to right flow… by showing more of it on the right hand side.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 17 mm, efov 46 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

When walking with throngs of people on crowded streets there’s something about an establishment not open for business that can be compelling. I knew the angle that I wanted to capture in order to highlight the angles of the white chairs.

The trick was to get the black details to flow through the composition. I positioned some black metal fencing in the bottom left corner of my composition and had it overlap on a white chair leg. This served as a leading line. and helped lead a viewer’s eye to the black table leg, then on to the dark panel on the right hand side.

To help accentuate the white, upward angles of the chairs I cropped off one leg of the chairs on the left and right edges of the composition. Those two small crops help to push a viewer’s eye upward.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 78 mm, efov 211 mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-400

I’ve always loved repeating patterns and angles. It took a little bit of time to find just the right angle to get the chair back positioned so it aligned with the weave patterns in the background. This helped create a subtle 3-D effect and a sense of symmetry.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 64 mm, efov 179 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

The bright blue tabletop stopped me in my tracks. I needed to get my composition in fairly tight on the potted plant to create visual focus. Rule of thirds composition technique was used to position the white pot. I then needed to find the right shooting angle so the strong shadow of the potted plant would direct a viewer’s eye to the top right hand corner. This helps create visual balance and eye flow.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 44 mm, efov 119 mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-160

My eye was immediately drawn to the strong horizontal lines of this scene. I composed the image to try to create some left to right eye flow and capitalize on the contrasting colours in the scene.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 66 mm, efov 178 mm, f/8, 1/8, ISO-400

At one point in our walking tour I had to skirt around a large crowd waiting for a municipal bus. As luck would have it this took me right in front of a unique store that was selling a number of artisan creations.  I couldn’t help but go inside to photograph the two incredible tabletops in the shop.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 24 mm, efov 65 mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO-400

Our final image is another tabletop grouping that caught my eye. The white tablecloth on a circular tabletop against an area of dark shade, created some instant drama.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 72 mm, efov 194 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400

I used a shooting angle that created a 3-D effect by having two of the items overlapping on the white, curved edge of the tablecloth. I framed the grouping with the white of the tablecloth. This helped the red highlights ‘pop’ in the composition.

Every photographer has their own subject interests and interpretative style when it comes to their images. Inspiration is all around us… and even found in tabletops and chairs.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW using my standard approach in post. This is the 1,251 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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