A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “Cotswolds

Creating calm with Rhythm and Harmony

Colour harmony As a photographer I have a strong interest in colours and patterns in the image, and the way we perceive them.

Many people have told me that this photograph conveys a sense of calm:



Birch trees in the Cotswolds

There are several reasons why this is calm and restful, here are the main ones:

  • Harmonious Colours:  Greens yellows and greys complement one another and not contrast
  • Even Lighting:  Taking the photograph when the sun was clouded over reduced the tonal range in the picture (compare this with the selective lighting post in this blog)selective lighting post
  • Rhythm: The repeating shapes of the trees create a sense of rhythm that is calm and reassuring.  The reason is that we know what to expect next.
  • Mystery: Look at the way the trees recede into the distance, it gets lighter and not darker, I wonder why…     Where is the vanishing point in this picture?… The eye is led out of the right of the photograph, there is no apparent end to the trees….



Using the Lead-in

Lead-ins are a composition technique I use a great deal.  For me the purpose of a lead-in is to draw the viewer into the picture by guiding the eye.  In a landscape context our eyes look to the ground so we know where it is safe to walk.  Placing a lead-in in the bottom foreground of the picture plays to this fact and is a strong cue for the viewer to start to examine the image from a familiar perspective and you are led into the picture.

Lavender fields in the cotswolds

Lavender fields in the Cotswolds

This structure feels familiar and allows the viewer to navigate the rest of the picture.  Composition is therefore about understanding and evolving patterns that help guide the viewer through the image and engaging the viewer’s attention.

Let’s look at a picture that seems completely different:

Sculpture at Sledmere

Sculpture and sky at Sledmere

I still think of this as a landscape picture, (I’m interested in what you think so please do leave a comment).  This is a less conventional image, the only familiar reference point is the sky.   There is nowhere to imagine yourself walking in this picture so I felt less constrained to have the lead-in in just one place.  Now the lead-in lines dominate the picture radiating inwards from all the edges and command the attention to the crown in the middle top.  Once the eye has lingered there it moves to the background and the familiarity provided by the blue sky and white clouds.  The interpretation then  moves from abstract pattern to some structure that is in the open air, a construction in the landscape.