A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “balance

Le Tour – Kettlewell

The Tour de France comes to Yorkshire in July 2014 and the locals along the route have been decorating all the villages with a variety of yellow flags, jerseys and bikes.

The locals have a long tradition of set dressing their villages, many have scarecrow festivals, now they have a scarecrow on a bike

I saw this straw man just over the bridge into the delightful village of Kettlewell.  A friend of mine is lucky enough to live here.

Straw man on a bike at Kettlewell for the Tour de France

Straw man on a bike at Kettlewell for the Tour de France

The composition is fairly straightforward, the dominant colour is Yellow which advances and contrasts against the grey clouds in the background.  The main lead-in is the road, also look for two minor lead-ins that echo one another, the white dashed road markings on the left and the yellow flags offering a similar punctuation on the right.

Oh and this was taken on my iPhone.

 


Easter Tulips

I went to my parent’s house the other day. Mum had been given a bunch of tulips that she had put in a vase by the window.

We are a close family and I’m one of the lucky ones that still has Mum and Dad around and in good health (long may that continue)

As I put on my coat in the hall I happened to glance round at the tulips.  The sun shining through the window brought out the intensity of the colours in both the flowers and the garden beyond.

Easter Tulips

Easter Tulips

The hall window has patterned glass and the leaf pattern seemed to harmonise with the green of the sunlit lawn beyond.

I’m happy with this picture, thanks Mum and Dad.  By the way, this is another one taken on my iPhone.  No photoshop treatment apart from slight cropping.

 


Butter pats

Humble things attract my attention, especially if well lit.

Butter pats at Erddig by Adrian Nixon

Butter pats at Erddig

This slanting sunlight gently picked out the detail of these wooden butter pats on a whitewashed wall at Erddig in Wales.

The level of detail is especially pleasing as all the light and dark tones have reproduced nicely in this picture.

It radiates a kind of timeless calm for me.  I could come back on another summer day in a hundred years and still find the same scene.


Waves

This has a feeling of calm about that I find deeply satisfying.

Waves have been breaking on the seashore long before You and I were around.

They will be doing the same long after we are gone.  Some might find that thought troubling, however I find a sense of peace in that realisation.

Waves

Waves

Another painterly quality picture, the breaking waves have the feeling of brushstrokes about them.  I do a bit of oil painting as well and I’ll try to get this effect in my next attempt.


Breaking the rules: Just use the edge of a photograph

For successful pictures, conventional wisdom on composition dictates that you need:

  • Foreground, to contain detail
  • Middle ground, to convey depth
  • Background, to add context

Then you need:

  • Lead-in lines to further create depth and guide the eye through the picture
  • Colour contrast for interest, if a green landscape, add something red.
  • Use the golden section to set the dimensions of the image and place points of interest within it for beauty.

Hmmm..  this is all very nice and will produce pleasing images. However:

  • Everyone learns these rules in the same way, from textbooks, magazines and how-to sites
  • or..
  • We absorb these rules by looking at images that surround us, particularly those that win competitions

So many pictures, and yet isn’t it surprising that so few are memorable?

So much for the words, how about putting into action, I hear you say..

Well, how about this picture:

The photographer and the lamp post IMG_0029b

Using only the edges of a picture IMG_0029b

This follows few, if any of those rules,  It shouldn’t work, but it does.

On another level, I wonder how the photograph he is taking of her came out?

Learn the conventional wisdom or rules, such as they are.  Then you are in an informed position to try something new.

If it works for you, tell me about it, I’d be fascinated to see what you create.


Square Composition: Rainbow and Stile

The square composition works well for this landscape.  In the alternative landscape format the dark clouds would dominate the picture too much and leave an unsatisfying empty foreground.

Rainbow and Stile above Burnsall in the Yorkshire Dales

Rainbow and Stile above Burnsall in the Yorkshire Dales

The picture works because it has a zig-zag composition

Rainbow and Stile Composition Vector Diagram

Rainbow and Stile Composition Vector Diagram

The vector diagram (the red arrows) give the impression this is the way we always read this picture’s composition.  After considering this for a while I have come to the view that we rationalise the composition after the fact.  This all happens in seconds:

  • The eye scans the picture, taking in the scene, darting from the rainbow stile and wall.
  • The eye then discovers the faint path leading to the style
  • The eye is then guided along the wall to the rainbow
  • Then up the rainbow to wander in the dark clouds
  • The eye repeats this process, gradually noticing details such as
  • The shape of the path echoes the shape of the rainbow.
  • The there is a post in the wall to slighty jolt the eye just before you get to the base of the rainbow

The simple zig-zag composition pattern is pleasing to the eye because it is easy to grasp and familiar. The eye is rapidly guided from aimless wandering to repeat the path through the picture again and again, rewarding the persistent viewer with new details that give a satisfying viewing experience


Composing with Colour Harmony

I noticed these beehives at Hartwell House and felt an instant attraction.

The gentle shades of colour of the hives compliment the rich texture of the background of the brick wall.

This was a day when I set out not really expecting to capture a good picture, it was overcast, a bit dull and raining.  These lighting conditions suit this subject perfectly bringing out the textures and letting the colours do the work.

Beehives

Beehives

Some people recommend using an odd number of elements in any composition.  I would challenge that view.  The even number of elements (4 hives) seems to work quite well for me, what do you as the viewer think, please leave a comment to tell me.