Swanage , composition and telling a story

A slightly different blog this time , I don’t usually teach much in my blog but I thought it might be an idea to share some of my thoughts about composition in adventure sports photography. Over the past year I’ve been being doing some talks at photographic societies and camera clubs where I talk about particular images and why I compose them in the way I do so here goes. All images taken with Canon 5Diii and 24-70Lii 2.8




The first image sets the scene, climbing and deep water soloing . I like this image as the texture and colour of the water is a contrast to the edges of the rock . I deliberately used the out of focus foreground rock to add depth to the image. I’ve composed the shot with the climber around the UR intersection of 1/3 as the eye naturally is drawn to the top right hand side of an image. I wondered if maybe the shorts should have been a different colour to contrast with the water but it is what it is.

One thing that I think regarding adventure sports imagery in some magazines is the lack of lifestyle, off the action shots . Personally , I like these as it gives more impact to the big action shot  and gives balance and contrast, otherwise that dramatic image just gets lost amongst other dramatic images. I like to think of balance in a composition , maybe its a bit like ying and yang , with textures and colours  providing foils and counterbalance.



Before we went to the DWS area , we managed to get a few trad routes in at Boulder Ruckle, this is Colin on the second pitch of ‘Jo’ HVS 5a. I was using the roof above the cave I was belaying from to cap the top of the composition and wanted to get as much of the sky and water in as possible to give a sense of scale to the shot but looking at it now think maybe there’s too much sky ?



Maybe my favourite shot of the day was when Colin was hand traversing along to the start of Fathoms . There was a bit of a swell and a big wave almost soaked him , luckily he stayed on the rock and finished the route but I liked the amount of rock and sea in the image



The next shot was also on Conga , though I’m not sure I like it as much as the top image. I was using the foreground rock to mirror the shape of the main prow of rock  and create layers in the image. In this image I think maybe a different colour to the shorts would have been better ?



As we headed back to the car I noticed Colins wet rock shoes hanging on the back of his rucksack , I chose a central composition for the shoes and like the shallow dof shooting wide open with the 24-70 gives.



Then its the customary fish and chips from the corner shop in Swanage, I like these little off climbing shots as its part of the story of the day , after all , climbing isn’t like a game of table tennis but a way of life , if that doesn’t sound too pretentious. But for climbers, climbing is what defines them ,  and telling the bigger story is part of what excites me .



Thanks for taking the time to read and get in touch if you have any thoughts about any of the above.