Category Archives: Project 1 The instrument

Part 1 – exercise 1.1: exposures of the same scene


Take three or four exposures of the same scene. Don’t change anything on the camera and keep the framing the same.

Preview the shots on the LCD screen. At first glance they look the same, but are they? Perhaps a leaf moved with the wind, the light changed subtly, or the framing changed almost imperceptibly to include one seemingly insignificant object and exclude another. Time flows, the moment of each frame is different, and, as the saying has it, ‘you can’t step into the same river twice’.


Set 1 – indoors

Set 1 - image 1 Set 1 - image 2 Set 1 - image 3
Set 1 - hist 1 Set 1 - hist 2 Set 1 - hist 3

For the first set, I set the camera up on a tripod, in full auto mode and used a cable release. I took the sequence of three just a couple of seconds apart. The differences in the histograms are very minor, which I put down to noise – certainly nothing is different visually, so only the camera can tell!

Set 2 – outdoors

Set 2 - image 1 Set 2 - image 2 Set 2 - image 3
Set 2 - hist 1 Set 2 - hist 2 Set 2 - hist 3

The second set was setup much like the first, but this time an outdoor scene. This time, there are actually some differences in the histograms – small, but they are there. There was a very small amount of wind movement and some cars in the distant background – not much, but obviously enough so that the histogram shows the differences.

Learning Point

My learning point from this short exercise is that even under quite controlled conditions, the world insists on changing! The differences may be subtle, but they are there.

Golden Ratio

In my research for the exercises in part 1, I came across the idea of the Golden Ratio. It’s one of those things that I’d seen in books before, but never paid a great deal of attention to.

The Wikipedia article explains the concept nicely in terms of the division of a line into two sections. For our purposes, perhaps the division of the frame is more useful. The following diagram shows the division of a rectangular frame (read the excellent article for the details).

"SimilarGoldenRectangles" by Ahecht (Original); Pbroks13 (Derivative work); Joo. (Editing) - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons -

“SimilarGoldenRectangles” by Ahecht

The idea of the golden ration comes from both mathematics and art. For us, the application often shows up in the so-called “rule of thirds” since the proportions of the golden ratio are close to 2/3:1/3.

I’ve been using this approach for years because I often find that a photo is more “balanced” that way. The “point” exercise suggests that the “right place” in the frame should be “not too obvious” and “clear and easy to see”. For my taste, applying this golden ratio idea is an excellent way to put things in the “right place” – certainly as a starting point. Beyond that, of course, we have to accept that there are no rules.