Archive for July, 2011

Baie de somme

It has been a while, but it is now time for another offering from Lilian Lemonnier.

Baie  de somme

At first glance, this image appears fairly simple. And indeed, that is part of the strength of the composition, though there are a few secondary details that hold it together by subtly increasing the impact.

The subject is clear: the line of cygnets following their mother across the golden waters. While the base rules of photography say not to place a subject in the middle, it works in this case, with the leading line of seven children reaching along the centre line to their parent, just beyond the horizontal mid-point.

That everything is in silhouette adds to the impact of the scene – there is no distraction from the forms and positions.

While I would personally prefer the sun to be a little to the left, thereby placing it on the golden ratio, at least it is not in the third (which would have unbalanced the image).

That said, there is a further subtle detail that really makes this image stand out: on right and left, two rows each side of reeds/mud-bank breaking through the water’s surface. That these paired lines come nearer to each other on the second set provides a triangular element that comes to (or near, depending where you take the end of the left mud-bank to be) the lead swan. Also, this pairing of lines – despite being virtual for much of their lengths – provide a fat leading line across their axis, straight into the distance of the image.

Wonderfully peaceful; serene.

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Rosely Redux

Finally, we get to see an example of the work of one of the best photographers I know, when it comes to working with models and studio lighting: Andy Poupart (andy_57).

Rosely Redux

While one might get captured by Rosely’s strikingly beautiful features and held by the intensity of her gaze in this image, these features are only half the story. The model’s attributes are revealed through two elements the photographer brings to the table: powerful lighting and a composition that perfectly complements the shape and tone of the subject.

The first thing I noticed (having finally torn my eyes away from Rosely’s) was her right arm, nestled perfectly into the the bottom left corner. This plays two roles: framing – by virtue of providing an edge to the area the eyes need to explore, even though there is more to the model – and anchoring – because it provides stability to compensate for the slight diagonal body angle.

The other main element coming into play in this image is the use of negative space: Rosely’s face is entirely to the left of the middle line, and (but for the tip of her chin) entirely in the upper half of the image. There is the negative space on the right, the more populated negative space in the bottom left (negative in that it is not the primary focus of the model’s face) and even a third area in the restricted focal corner: to the left of the subject’s face.

While there are a lot of halves coming into this picture, it still manages to balance golden ratios nicely: the upper vertical primary is just under Rosely’s nose, while the right-side primary of the focal corner passes through her right eye. (Is this stretching things a little? I think not – the quartering is the dominant composition, meaning that golden ratios should come in within that segmentation, not before it.)

A starkly beautiful model, captured in a way that emphasises her features.

patience is all, sit and wait

Time now for a visit with Lola, expertly composed by Kate Mellersh.

patience is all, sit and wait

While some might find Lola’s ginger cuteness to be the immediate draw in this image (and there is no doubt it captures one’s attention), the real attraction is in the composition. the real-world depth that exists between viewer and subject is clearly conveyed through the fold in the curtain, which provides a leading line in from the corner of the image. Add to this the S-curve between that leading line, Lola’s body and looping tail, and the organic nature of the image is retained. While there is no clear usage of golden ratios, the S-curve does bounce off them rather nicely, with Lola’s head between primary and secondary verticals, the base of her tail on the secondary and the tip just about touching the primary.

This usage of a leading line and S-curve all below the primary vertical golden ratio obviously fills the rest of the scene with negative space, and the secondary leading lines – above and below – of the curtain’s lower edge.

Captivating minimalism.

Let There be Light!

This next image is a stunning piece of work from my friend Susanne Meyer (sannesu).

Let There be Light!

In photography, the finest detail can make all the difference between a wasted shot and a good one; between good and exceptional. This shot falls into the latter category; the detail being the finest sliver of the depth of field. That the inside of the seed pod – the veined structure – is sharp while the surrounding body is deeply blurred gives the whole an ethereal feel, like a dancing flame. Looking further down the pod, we find the fur likewise coming into sharp focus, but slightly masked in a haze of orange mist. It dances.

The horizontal position of the whole on the golden ratio works perfectly, an that the heart of the veined, focused area is on the vertical midpoint keeps the whole grounded in reality (rather than being pure art for its own sake). The additional curve of a foreground stalk cutting across the subject anchors the picture nicely in that bottom corner.

An absolutely stunning piece of work.

Ascending Iota

We return now to the work of Keith Rajala (maclobster), whose previous analysed image appeared four months ago.

Ascending Iota

Despite the limited tones and elements making up this image, it is profoundly powerfully composed. Fundamental to that is the split (or virtual) diagonal that is the heart of the image, from bottom left to top right, the band of whiteness is bound on both sides by the darker elements. The diagonal is clearly there, prevalent, without actually being marked in itself.

That the mountain does not quite reach the top of the frame, along with a tonal change in the snow half way up provides a dominant triangular element, with the bottom right foreground element providing a second for balance. Adding the exposed rock in the bottom left corner finally anchors the whole. As a last element – as if it’s really needed – the six mountaineers give a sense of scale.

Powerfully simple, compelling grandeur.

Composition principles: Negative space

It is now time for the seventh in the series of basic composition principle articles underlying this blog. Our subject this time is negative space.

Once again, all samples are taken from submissions by members of the Flickr group Learn Composition by Example.

My thanks to all those who participated.

your pronouncements will find you out

It is time for another offering from Kate Mellersh, who has an uncanny ability to make art out of the strangest details in the most every-day situations.

your pronouncements will find you out

Take a simple plant resting upon a concrete paving stone, and casting an elongated shadow. Then frame it correctly. Simple, but every detail must be just right if it is to be balanced composition. The difference in colour between the twig and seed pods, and the harsh ground needs to be just right. The depth of the shadow cast must match the brightness of the green, but in opposition. These tones are only part of the tale – next the cast shadow must be aligned such that it stretches across the scene, triangular in shape, from edge to edge, grounding it.

The crack between paving stones is another fundamental element here: it acts as anchor to the scene, giving a sense of alignment. Which brings us to the use of golden ratios within the shot: the crack being on a tertiary vertical (it does not matter that there is considerable leeway within the width of the crack, it is still over it). The lowest tip of the seed pod’s wing reaches the lower primary golden ratio. On the horizontals, all the green sits just to the right of the primary line, with the dominant seed pod (and its wings) squeezed between the secondary and tertiary lines on the right.

The result of this elongated subject within an almost square image with a dominant framing element and triangular subject is a vast swathe of negative space, allowing the image to breath.

A dramatic, vibrant still life.

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