Exercise: Building a story – Take 2

As in my previous attempt at this exercise, I found a picture of a scene, identified several frames and put them together in a sequence to create a new story. This time my canvas was ‘Triangular’ (1962), a black & white photograph by Chinese photographer Fan Ho. I found this picture interesting for its use of high contrast lighting and the intriguing dark-clothed figure standing with his back to the viewer, lit by sunlight streaming into the subway from the street above.

Before selecting the frames for the story, I cropped the picture down, creating a new master shot that further emphasised the standing man in the background and the lower half of a walking man in the foreground.

I selected three frames, of three figures rendered in different degrees of light and tone. Then added captions to each image to help tell the story.

Fig. 1. Fan Ho (1962)



1. The Standing Man
2. The Sunlit Man
3. The Hidden Man









The Standing Man
steps serenely, upward
into the morning crowds


The Sunlit Man is in
no hurry to catch the
eastbound train across town


From a distance, the
Hidden Man watches as
people pass by like spirits.


This was a very satisfying exercise to do. Where the frames in the previous attempt at this exercise appeared looser, a little disconnected, and even slightly surveillance camera in style, the frames in this attempt are tighter, connected and more cinematic, and there is a stronger sense of character and place.

This time I looked for a way to incorporate shot size into the selection when framing the images. Frame 1 is a medium shot (MS); Frame 2 is a medium shot (MS); Frame 3 is a wide shot (WS).

What this exercise has shown me is that the connection between how you convey information, meaning, feeling, ideas within a frame and your choice of shot size can have a strong impact on the way in which an audience views a moving image.

So, how can I use this to plan for the future? By asking which shot size works best for each frame, as well as thinking about conveying information, meaning, feeling and ideas, when making my own moving images.

And how can I use this to plan new learning experiences? By looking at how other moving image practitioners and cinematographers use framing to portray information, meaning, feeling and ideas within their work; by experimenting with ideas using the same exercise through moving images; and by using this exercise as a follow up to exercises 7 & 10 on developing ideas.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. ‘Triangular’ (1962) Fan Ho