Five in Ten Photography Composition

posted in: Photography | 9

My five in ten photography composition assignment involved taking 5 interesting but different photos in a row. Furthermore within a space of 10 feet  x 10 feet using 1 lens and no zoom. Yip you read that right - in a row. Not 20 or 30 and pick out the best 5. Oh no it had to be one taken right after the other. Not only that but we had to put a week's worth of lessons into practice with those 5 photos.

I've never been so challenged in all my days of photography as I was with this five in ten photography composition assignment. The assignment is part of the Student of Composition eclass I'm taking part in at the moment with Kent Weakly. Indeed I've known for days that it was going to be tough as I read other student assignments. However I didn't realise how tough it would get.

I only shoot in manual and use degrees of kelvin for my white balance so it always takes me a few shots to get the colour looking right. But that light kept changing as sunrise developed. Sigh...I had to stop the assignment quite a few times as I just wasn't happy with what I was shooting. Furthermore I even thought of going home and looking for a new location. That is until I shot img 8627.

That was it. An eureka moment. I just knew my creativity had been tapped into.

this is an image of different frosted mosses on top of a fence post- five in ten photography composition
Mossy Peaks - five in ten photography composition

Five in Ten Photography Composition Img 8627

I just loved the perspective of looking down on this fence post and seeing the detail of the different mosses covered in ice. The old pieces of wood looked like high rise buildings encased in ice.

  • I  looked down and took an aerial point of view.
  • My eye caught the different textures of the moss.
  • Furthermore I had contrast between light and dark.
  • I used the rule of thirds on the fence post and had plenty of negative space to the left hand side.
  • Moreover I used the wire fencing and grain of the wood as leading lines.
  • My fence post has a nice geometric shape to it.
  • I had a simple background.
this is an image of different frosted mosses on top of a fence post- five in ten photography composition
From Lofty Mossy Tops - texture and moss on fence at sunrise

Five in Ten Photography Composition Img 8628

I much prefer an earlier shot of this scene just as the sun was rising but I've got Kent's rules to abide by!


  • I changed from horizontal to vertical to emphasis the height and the strong vertical interest.
  • In addition I broke up the horizon with this shot by getting down low.
  • I spot metered for the fence post and left the sky to do what it does best in moments like this - yip...clip!
  • Then I made sure that I had the horizon level with the top line of the rule of thirds grid in the view finder.
  • Likewise I tried to use the partially ploughed field to give some impression of leading lines to the image. Along with the vertical lines from the grain of wood.
  • I chose a nice depth of field to separate my background from the subject.
  • While I achieved a good balance between light and dark.
this is a monochrome black and white image of wild bramble leaves ribbed with light - five in ten photography composition
ribbed with light and frost

Five in Ten Photography Composition Img 8628

...maybe a safe shot when viewed in colour. The cloud by this stage was rolling in so my plans for having rays of sunlight bouncing off the frost on the leaves just didn't happen.


  • I concentrated on getting the edge of the frosty leaves ribbed with sunlight.
  • I  post-edited the shot to monochrome to show the ribbing.  Though I should have just changed the settings to black and white on the camera in between shots.
  • One thing I would like to change in this image is in the lower right hand side corner - I never noticed the smaller leaf interrupting the ribbing of light on the bigger leaf.
  • Nice depth of field as the background is blurred giving a feeling of space and simplicity.
  • The curve of the stem is the leading line and leads the eye to the very tip of the last leaf.
  • Plenty of negative space for the stem to lean into.
  • I adhered to the rule of thirds.
this is an image of frosted green grass curls for the Five in Ten Photography Composition assignment
frosted grass curls

Five in Ten Photography Composition Img 8628

I'm not happy with this at all and I had my knees and elbows on the frozen grass for this one.  I would have preferred the focus more on the top part of the curved leaf and I didn't want to take the chance with manual focus in case I wreaked the shot.  The Af focus hunted quite a bit before it locked focus on to what I thought was the right part of the leaf. But the AF strayed. It let me down and I wreaked the shot.


  • Despite the technicalities over focus I like the contrast of colour.
  • However I don't like the stray bits of grass popping up from the bottom of the image. In fact I never even noticed them in the viewfinder.
  • I like the curved edge of grass against the sharp edges of the frost.  Furthermore I can see the possibilities of re shooting this another day. Though with my macro lens instead. Confession time...I curled the leaf!
this is an image of a frosty bench along the river path - Five in Ten Photography Composition assignment
the background also tells part of the story

Five in Ten Photography Composition Img 8629

Another scene setter. This time the view behind me and for this shot I really had to work on my background. 


  • I removed old branches from behind the seat and lots of bits of old seed head stalks in the foreground. Though I didn't want to clean up the area too much as this is rural Scottish countryside after all.
  • In hindsight I should have had more of the base of the seat in the picture. Plus removed more of the bramble leaves from the lower edge of the photo.
  • For my leading lines I used the path to lead the eye to the seat. I tried to get the seed heads on a gradient so as to lead the eye up into the photograph.
  • I tried to achieve a contrast between the angular seat and its diagonal frame against the curvature of the path.
  • Rules are made to be broken sometimes right?  so this time I had a 'what if moment' as the sitting part of the seat really isn't abiding to the rule of thirds.

My 10 Foot Area

Phew! this assignment took 1.5 hours to complete. I'm glad I didn't ask anyone to accompany me but it was so rewarding to have achieved it. I shot the five in ten photography composition images with a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. Though it's hard to get a contrast of colour when the landscape is mostly beige at this time of year.


Finally here's a snapshot of my 10 ft sq area.  I  seemed to spend most of my time close to that fence on the grass and only utilized the 3 - 4 ft x10 feet area nearest the fence. Plus I never used the tripod for these 5 images.

this is an image of the confined area for taking the Five in Ten Photography Composition assignment
10 ft x 10 ft area




You have such an elegant group of images to view. I’m glad to see you fought off the cold to create these.The moss/lichen is amazing on the fence post. The frost on the edges of the plants and the shapes created are excellent.


All of these images are very well composed and the overall textures are fascinating. Well done. I especially appreciate the photo of your 10 x 10 space. Very nice. Thank you for sharing.

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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9 Responses

  1. Ellie

    Oh Rosie, what a great post. I think all of your pictures are wonderful but I especially like your first one and your b/w shot. So much thought and effort went into them and they are so worth it. I think you should be well pleased with them.
    Well done!!!

  2. Andrea Dawn

    Hi Rosie . . . What an interesting post! I love that you shared this assignment and included your struggles as well as your successes. It is all very helpful and I can see myself using some of the ideas you have shared. I have no photography training of any kind and learn a lot from your posts. Thank you so much.

  3. photoaspire

    Rosie – I wanted to write this in the class comments but there were no comments from you there to respond to! But if you're like me, you like blog responses better. 😉 What I wanted to say was: I love your writing style in the blog – very fun! – and "Ribbed with Light" is just gorgeous. I realized after you said something that my pictures aren't completely sequentially numbered, either, but I'll (try to) explain it away by saying that I had a couple of "fluffs" where I ended up taking fuzzy pictures of my feet and a random wall.

  4. Liz

    Wow you did great!!! I am learning from you… I should have taken this ecourse.

    say when you say you spot metered for the fence post what exactly do you mean?( I know maybe I should know this.. but…)

  5. Gardening in a Sandbox

    That was a very interesting excercise and I loved the photos. You really thought them through. We are on our last week and depth of field is our assignment this week. We did curves, leading lines, triangles and eye lines last week. V

  6. Kathy

    WOW…now THAT had to be a difficult assignment! I love how you walked us through your thought process for each of these shots. Thank you for sharing that with us!


  7. justine

    wow this looks complicated and I strongly believe rules are meant to be broken in photography if you know that you are breaking them. Apparently Cartier Bresson can teach us everything we ever needed to know about the art of composition and he didn't use a flash!! good luck with your course, sounds fun but don't let it stop you using your creative natural eye!

  8. A Garden of Threads

    Hi Rosie, Great shots, they cover the assignment beautifully. I am also finishing a 4 week course on composition, it has been challenging. Jen.

  9. GailM.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your assignment Rosie. I'm a slowpoke and just doing my assignment now (early May). I think for my next assignment, I'll move outdoors.