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Contempt for Gravity

Contempt for Gravity

Thought of the Shot

A blog to show you step by step how I arrive at my final image



We have all seen the swing ride at fairs, amusement parks and boardwalks. Many of us have taken a spin on it as well. As a young boy that was one of the first rides I was tall enough to get on and my first encounter was pretty spectacular. As the platform sinks away and you become suspended in the air you start to move forward and gain speed. Before you know it the ride is in full tilt and you are soaring in the air the wind rushing pass your face and through your outstretched arms and legs. You look down to see all the faces looking back up at you, pointing, smiling, waving. Everyone is watching how much fun you are having. My photo is dedicated to that experience. That unique occasion that you realize a ride can be both exciting and leisurely at the same time. 


Contempt for Gravity

Contempt for Gravity 


I set about to shoot it so that the ride structure would be strong in the frame. To do this I tightened the crop considerably, I even went so far as to cut the top of the ride off. When the subject leaves a frame like this it helps the subject to feel more expansive. If the top of the ride was still in the frame it would be a hard line and you would reach the top and stop, but with it shooting out of the frame your eye goes up and down. This helps you look at the many other details painted on the ride. Diagonal lines always add a dynamism to a frame so I waited for the swings to be pulled outward creating a perfect leading line back to the ride structure. Some of the seats were unoccupied so I also waited for the riders to come into the frame. I especially like the boy with his outstretched hands. So in order to help draw attention to him I placed him at one of 1/3 intersecting lines of the frame. The rule is, if you cut your image into even thirds both horizontally and vertically you will end up with 4 points in the image where these lines intersect. If you place your subject at one of those intersections it will add weight and emphasis to the subject placed there. That boy is at the lower left intersection. With his placement and strong pose he tends to stand out. The tilt of the ride was another thing to consider when making this photo. As the ride moves the top tilts in all directions as it goes around, in order to get the most out of the subject and really open the photo up I had to wait for the tilt to be up and away from me. This helps the intricate paintings on the underside be seen in full glory.



Now for the edit. I wanted the image to be a dream like photo so that it would help the viewer go back to the day that they also took a ride on the swings. I utilized a split tone for the color balance, a split tone is when you tell the highlights and shadows of the image to mimic a color. You choose one color for the highlights to mimic in this case a yellow/brown and the shadows another, in this case a violet. This particular split tone setup helped give the photo a surreal feel. I wanted to accentuate all the details painted on the ride itself so I increased my contrast. This forces the brights and darks to become more distinct, in doing that the edges tend to be more pronounced much like a sharpening does for an image. Finally a dream effect would not be complete without nice white puffy clouds. I added a post crop white vignette to the corners to really take the image to the next step.


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