Balance, a photograph should be balanced, so that the spectator can identify with what you are saying in your image. This balance or composition should be pleasing to the eye and follow the route to the subject. There will be a point that the eye will travel to follow a shape in the photograph
In the photograph below we have a post almost in the centre of picture, and your eyes are immediately draw to it, totally ignoring the church. Then your eyes are drawn to the centre of the picture, where there is a white swan at the place where the water line meets the stones in front of the church, and then travel along the stones to a second white swan where there are two people. In the end your eyes maybe draw to the subject of the photograph, the church!
Most people can look at a photograph and immediately tell you whether it is good or not, (although to some extent individual taste does come into the equation) They are able to do this at a subconscious level, evaluating the image against an internal checklist.
So balance in the key word when talking about composition, this involves an attempt to arrange all the different elements of your image into a pleasing and balanced arrangement. At a very obvious level it means checking to see that the main subject or other parts are completely with the frame.
I have been used to using Rule of Thirds, this works for me in many subject types. The Rule of Thirds simply says that, instead of placing the main focus of interest in the centre of the frame, (which can get a little boring) you look at the position and place it at an intersection of the thirds. That is to say one third up and one third in OR two thirds up and one third in and so forth. Many digital cameras today have this facility built into the menu, so that the grid is visible when taking the shot
In the image to the left, the eye is immediately drawn to the branches on the left. where as in the image below, where the branches have been omitted the sweeping curve of the water line takes you to the church. Even though the church is right of centre, the sweeping action moves you along the path, round the church and to the swan that is filling the empty space. The thing that is not pleasing with this image is the tower is too close to the frame, and has no where to go
Talking of no where to go, this picture I took a few seconds too late, the horse is just passing the post ahead of another cart rider that can just be seen behind, but the horse is far too close to the frame. Its needs space to run into so that the spectator can visualise it moving forward.
Exercise Project 2 Visual Skills
1. Take 2 or 3 photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame and evaluate (test)
After some thought I decided to use an satsumas on a dark background so that there were no distractions, I found this exercise quite hard, because I kept wanting to place the satsuma in a pleasing position. I find the first image, where the fruit is placed to the right badly framed. It is far too close to the frame for comfort.
The 3rd image is still too close to the frame, but what did surprise me is that I find that I ‘like‘ it better than the first image. I would attribute this to the point/satsuma being almost equal to the top and the side of the frame. The middle image reminds me of a full stop at the end of a page, something is missing, and yet again, although it is placed close to the frame, in a surreal way it almost works.
In all the images there is a lot of empty space, like a black board waiting for the chalk to write something exciting. Maybe this is why I think of the 2nd image as a full stop, the end of the sentence yet to be written. Using a small object in a frame certainly gives you food for thought. In my case the norm is to remove ‘clutter‘ from an image, as it can be too ‘busy‘, so I find these images need something else to make them more exciting.
As an after thought, I wondered what the result would be if I had something that was not ‘round‘. Use a different ‘point’ of reference. I decide to use a small mustard pot with a spoon.
In the first image, the spoon is pointing toward the frame, I would have thought this would direct the eye to the frame, but instead, my imagination fills in the story and paints the spoon as tail, thereby moving the eye into nothingness… and the mustard pot wants to travel to bottom right hand corner. In the middle image, the spoon points to the right hand of the frame. At this angle, where the spoon is horizontal, the ‘tail’ becomes a pointer, (‘that way out’) and subconsciously, my mind draws a line at the bottom of the frame. This in a way is like the middle image above, a full stop, leave here, turn the page………… In the 3rd Image again I placed the mustard pot equal to two sides of the frame, with the spoon pointing towards the upper and right hand of the frame.
Finally I thought what difference would a small point make if there were other shapes to consider in the frame, when you only have one object.
What we have in the three images above are three shapes, 2 reflections and the lit candle. The first two, although the candle is in frame, the reflection at the base of the candle take you out of the frame. This reminds me of the time I put a picture of a dog on the laptop for my dog to see, then I removed it, and my dachs, Mindy looked behind the laptop to see where it had gone. In the second image in particular, my minds eye wants to look into the image and down inside the frame. I feel like I am missing out on something, therefor viewing this image may be uncomfortable as its not balanced.
Then I decided to take it step further, by actually adding other shapes into the equation.
Moving on from my previous tests of adding other elements, like the reflection, I decided to play around with colour and shape. So using a fruit bowl to add colour, and two glasses that, that only have out line, I moved the satsuma around to see what effect this would have.
In the first image above and on the left. The colour makes the whole image lopsided. Using a dark background intensifies the colour, but the whole image becomes unbalanced, as the glasses, although reflect some orange tint are not bold enough in colour for the minds eye. The next image has the satsuma placed very near the edge of the frame, to the left. Although this helps towards balancing the colour, the frame is too small to accommodate all the objects,so the satsuma, in this case, ‘has no where to go‘
Of the three images in the test, the last is the most pleasing to the eye, as the tint in the glasses is stronger, adding more colour, because the satsuma is closer, this helps balance the whole image. but its not perfect, but better than the two previous images. This image also has less negative spaces.
In summary, shape, placement, negative spaces and colour in the frame, have their role to play in composition.
2. Take a number of images in which the point is placed in relationship to the frame (real)
3. Print two or three photographs and trace your eye route, then do the same with newspaper/magazine. To learning log with brief observations…