Photo School Extras

Series 3

3.1   Details

Synecdoche is one of those words you don't get to use very often; for those unfamiliar with the pronunciation, it's sin-ek-dough-kee. Grammatically, rhetorically and (we believe) in pictures as well, it is the device of describing the whole by using a part or (more rarely) of describing the part by using the whole. Latin poets were great ones for synecdoche: a chariot might be described as 'the spinning wheels', 'the furious rider', 'the lashing reins' and much, much more: Roger has unfond memories of a Latin class more than four decades ago...

Photographically, details can be synecdoche -- take a particular look at the 1000 Motels gallery, where details evoke the whole -- or they can be pictures in their own right, for their shape, colour, texture or more. One thing we don't like, though, is 'what-is-it' shots, where the hapless viewer is asked to guess what something is when it has been shot in extreme close up or at an unusual angle or both. It's just too easy to take such shots, and as the old saying has it, the biggest fool can ask more than the wisest man can answer.

When you are shooting or selecting pictures for this module, we'd suggest you go for variety. Otherwise, it's too easy to restrict yourself to a particular subject or style of lighting. Remember, too, that details can vary enormously in size, from larger-than-life macro shots to details of buildings: a door, a window or a turret. Try for synecdoche in at least some of them.

miami buick

3.2   Narrative pictures

treasures 2

This may be a personal interpretation, but to us, a 'narrative' picture is one that prompts the person who is looking at it to imagine a story. All pictures do this to some degree, but some do it more than others. The most extreme (and arguably the most contrived) include 'book cover' shots where the image tries to give some visual impression of the subject-matter of the book. You don't even need the book, necessarily: look at some of our narrative still lifes as well as that the module on graphic, record and narrative pictures.

Captions or titles can add a certain amount to narrative pictures, by pointing the viewer's thoughts in the direction the photographer wants, such as Broken Treasures (left) and Time Traveller (right), so think hard about possible titles for the pictures you submit.

time traveller

3.3   Symmetry and Repetition

These are discussed as part of a module on the 'Rules of Composition' (which are no such thing, of course -- merely guidelines) but there is a great deal more to be said visually than verbally, including repetition-with-variation (as in the picture on the right and elsewhere in the module), broken symmetry (almost but not quite) and broken repetition (a series of picture

red flags

elements that are identical or nearly so, plus a 'disruptive' element that breaks up the repetition). We have added two new galleries, Symmetry and Repetition, which we hope will inspire you when it comes to putting together your own ten pictures for this module. Both are captioned (available to subscribers only), with the aim of providing help for this assignment.

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© 2007 Roger W. Hicks