Have been working on some of the projects in section four of the course whilst planning the fourth assignment and it’s time I wrote some of that up here.
My first example of a ‘single figure small’ is the classic isolated individual silhouetted as they walk across an empty landscape. This image would be more or less worthless without the figure, and it could be argued that the figure is a bit too small.
Personally, I don’t mind it on this scale. I feel that it really does give a sense of the wide open space in which this individual is walking. The contrast between the dark figure and the light coloured sand is important, of course. An alternative crop might be much tighter, for example. The water in the foreground could be said to isolate the figure even more by seeming to leave them stranded on an island of sand.
Sometimes you need to have a small figure in the image just to define the scale of what the viewer is seeing. Once again, in the example below, the figure is very small in the frame, and dressed in dark colours against a dark background. Presented small in this log, it might be almost impossible to tell that she is there – but, in line with the comments in the notes, there is at least the element of surprise when the viewer does spot her. The presence of the figure certainly does define the scale, which could be very confusing without it.
I’m also going to include a couple of examples where the figure is much less insignificant in size – still small enough to be anonymous, but big enough to be seen clearly. I would suggest that, in both these cases, it is the presence of the figure, and their interaction with the environment (and the frame?) that makes the image into something remotely interesting.
A good and effective principle that has both compositional merit and the potential to fundamentally affect the narrative quality of the image.