A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “perception


Colours and lines attract me.

This picture is a variant on the lead-in style of composition.



I like the simplicity of the composition, the dynamic sweeps of the curves are a powerful effect.

You’ll know I’m quite aware of the horizon in my pictures.  In this one the eye searches out a line and the only one that matches our preconceptions is the roughly horizontal line right at the top of the image.  This adds to the powerful effect and holds the attention. Well, it works for me anyway, tell me what you think…


Crack in the Universe

It’s been a little while since my last post.  I’ve been busy and had to replace my camera too.  More of that later.

In the meantime I’ve a few iPhone pictures for you.  All were taken in one small area of Manchester.

This is the first.  No photoshop effects, straight shot apart from very slight cropping:

Crack in the Universe

Crack in the Universe


As you’ll have gathered by now I’m interested in how far I can push a picture and still have you recognise the human form.

Here is my latest offering:



Another way of looking at this was expressed by a friend “Why on earth did you buy a camera that can capture tens of millions of pixels only to take blurry snaps like a box brownie?!”

You’ll have probably guessed that to take shots like this you need a lot of control over the camera, to override its programming to take the sharpest pictures….. just like everyone else.

I like making the effort to be a little different.

Walking on Water

Another watery theme.

The way the image is broken up into myriad pieces makes the eye work harder to decypher the picture.

Walking on Water

Walking on Water

As mentioned in previous posts our perception filters are tuned to recognise the human form.  here the brian has to work very hard to make sense of this image, however I’ll bet that most people will recognise the shape of a man in blue jeans.


Looking at a Landscape

Our perception is tuned to recognise patterns for priority attention.  Probably a successful survival adaptation.

Take a look at this picture:

Walkers in the Yorkshire Dales

Walkers at Buckden

Did you notice the people in the picture?  Just about everyone will.

  • The people are the starting point of interest in this landscape.
  • They command our attention.
  • Then we notice the rest of the landscape
  • Then return to the people again.

The people occupy only 0.5% of the picture area. (yes, I measured it)

This means that we place 99.5% of the picture as a lower priority.

We have an automatic editing ability that allows us to focus our attention on a view and make rapid decisions about it.

When we think we are seeing a landscape, are we really looking?  David Hockney has thought deeply about this

So What?…. well we can make assumptions and miss things when we see a view.

Looking is much harder to do and takes time.

Making images that connect with others means that they must be different.   One source of this difference is cultivating the ability to look.  I’m trying harder to look, are you?

Mixed verticals and strong lead in lines

See what you make of this one.



The first thing you notice is the shape of the trees emphasised by the repeating pattern

Then the strong lead in lines capture the eye.

Understanding how we read photographs – descent or ascent?

I am interested in the way different cultures perceive composition in photographs.

In the English-speaking world we are taught to read from left to right.  This convention applies to information that is presented to us in the form of spreadsheets, charts and graphs as well as text.

This photograph was composed with this convention in mind:


Wall and tree above Buckden

The wall forms a sweeping curve underlining the focal point of the tree.

Tension is reduced arranging the curve in this way because most viewers read images from left to right giving this strong element associations of a smooth descent.

What I am interested to find out is:  Do people from other cultures that read from right to left, perceive this photograph in the same way?

Please do leave me comments I’m fascinated to know about this.