A place to think about composition in photography

Posts tagged “zig zag

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

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