Monday, April 11, 2011

Seeing the shapes of things


I sometimes try to see geometric shapes when I photograph. Sometimes it's trying to see how the shape of a subject affects the shape of its surroundings. I guess that would be trying to see the negative space in my viewfinder and not the subject.

So what does this have to do with greyhounds? Well, late one afternoon, when Sadie, Katie, and I stepped out of our West Yellowstone hotel room, there was a shaft of light coming through a side exit glass door and slanting down the hallway. You know how greyhounds are sometimes called "needle-noses" when you view their heads in profile or full-face? With Sadie standing in the hallway, that shaft of light sort of mimicked her profile.

So I thought I'd try and capture Sadie's silhouette within the shaft. But if I put her in the center of the viewfinder, the light meter would expose her correctly but the wall behind her would be way overexposed. So what I did was use the "AE-L/AF-L" button that's just to the right of the eyepiece. The default setting for this button is that it'll lock the exposure AND the focus on your subject. But I changed the button's function (it's custom function "f6" on the D300) so that the button would only lock the exposure when pressed and not the focus. (I find myself in those sorts of situations more often than needing to lock focus.)

Anyway, I aimed the camera at the wall behind Sadie, metered the wall, then pressed the "AE-L/AF-L" button down with my thumb to keep those exposure values, then focused on Sadie's profile to take the picture. I don't think I got the shapes exactly as I had pictured them in my mind, but it was fun trying to see if I could.

(Shot with the Nikon D300; 18-200mm zoom set at 27mm; aperture-priority; 1/400 sec @ f/5.6; ISO 200; auto white balance; normal JPG.)


  1. I still think it turned out to be a pretty cool effect. If she'd tilted her nose up just a hair, it might have been closer to what you were looking for, but I think it looks good the way it is! :)

  2. How did you get Sadie to stand still long enough in the right place to get the shot in the first place? It's a lovely photo.

  3. @Greyhounds CAN Sit: she was staring at the other end of the hallway, which made an immediate right-left turn and continued on to the indoor pool and the hotel lobby beyond. i think she was waiting for someone or something to appear suddenly around the corner. she often stares at far-off things. sort of epitomizes the sighthound breed.

  4. Ah, thank you. I'd either not have my camera with me or not be able to get it out and focussed in time to get a shot like that:) Well done.