Archive for December, 2011

Sun bathing

My Flickr contact Allison (snippets_from_suburbia) may not be the most frequently featured in this blog, but when she shows up, there is a sweet harmony to her work.

Sun bathing, by snippets_from_suburbia

The first thing about this image that jumps out is the Spartan feel – an immense field of darkness within which the subject has found the one tiny band of warm light, and so settled down to enjoy every bit of it. This minimalism of subject within such negative space draws the eye in, especially as assisted by the horizon line (the lit floor): there is so much room to wander, yet one is drawn inexorably to Domino.

The minimalism is also present in the tones: black, white and a few hints of soft brown. Oh, plus one piercingly blue eye.

The use of the centre line for vertical alignment, rather than a golden ratio or such, works specifically because of the floor surface, and the blurred reflection that results. The pool of brightness sits comfortably in the middle, balanced by its non-uniformity.

And lastly, we have the precision of the crop that makes this image work so well. There are subtle golden ratios at play here: the length of Domino’s tail is a golden ratio of the distance from his butt to his eye (the one in darkness), which happens to be perfectly positioned on the double golden ratio. And from the eye to the right edge is – yes – the same distance as from the tip of his tail to the eye. He is curled up around the gold.

Purely priceless.


Knowing light.

Today’s offering is a piece of photolosophy – being the use of photographic imagery to emphasise a philosophical statement – from Ananya Rubayat (dream_maze).

Knowing light..

The easiest compositional point of this image to notice is the dominant triangle that frames the subject; attached to the upper edge of the frame it reaches in and secures her within the extended expanse of darkness (itself a dominant form of negative space). The gentle fall-off of illumination and the way those lines almost anchor in the corners invites the eye to stray away from the subject, but always nudges one’s attention back to the portrait.

The structure of this light, leaping from the grasped bouquet, creates wonderful shadow patterns (well, what else could we expect from beautifully chaotic hair?), and also picks out Ananya’s features in stark Chiaroscuro. Combined with the triangular revelation, this makes for an intense sense of presence, despite the lack of eye contact.

The last powerful piece of composition here is the positioning. Vertically, Ananya’s face is on the primary golden ratio (at the high-lit cheek bones). Horizontally, the positioning is as per Jenny’s decomposition shot I reviewed a few days ago: it is balanced on the golden ratio between the double ratios (1.618 : 2); just far enough off centre to feel both centred and off-centre.

An evocative self-portrait.

The memorial

It’s not all that surprising that the first image picked for a critique since I returned to this blog is from my friend Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.), who consistently offers up exceptional work.

The memorial

Perhaps the most obvious compositional aspect to this image is the use of the chaos of foreground branches, and the occasional flares of autumnal foliage, to frame to monument, which acts as subject. The wrap-around creates a tunnel effect, leading us without question into the depth of the image.

The framing creates a strong sense of balance, in its being off-centre, and with the monument itself sitting (albeit not quite perfectly) on the intersection of golden ratios, one at the line of the horizon (a little higher than the waterline) and the other through the right edge of the dome.

The counterpoint of the setting sun through the branches – creating a melange of silhouette and ethereal back-lighting – provides a distraction from the primary focus, which combined with the directional texture of the framing sends the eye circling around the whole of the scene.

A compellingly peaceful scene, demanding contemplation.


Finally back in the land of the electronically-living, it is time to pick out a masterpiece from my friend Jenny Downing, which just happens to have a perfect title to accompany this blog…


There are many elements and attributes of this image that make it compelling, but very few are truly obvious.

Perhaps the clearest is the the gossamer fibre of the transparent part of the black goo, where it is most precisely in focus. This fine slice of depth-of-field, on such a delicate subject so replete with intricate detail is stunning and captivating. One could very easily get lost in that intricacy. Such a fine focus also brings out great softness in the background, crowned by the pair of specular highlights on the right side.

But the strength of the (de)composition only starts there. There is some magical golden ratio work here: absolutely nothing that appears to sit on a primary or even secondary intersection. The only point that appears at first glance to work in this fashion is the droop of the longest strand of goo, which rests nicely on the lower vertical secondary. Of more interest is the horizontal placement of that dominant streak of darkness: it sits on the golden ration between the double golden ratios… in other words at a ration of 1.618:2 horizontally within the image. This is an unusual line, to use, but one that is just far enough off the centre to allow for balance without obviously sitting to the side.

There is a diagonal line within the image, from the top right corner, along the fat droop, through the long drop, which contacts the lower edge at the golden ratio. A second one from the top right follows the right-side edge of the decomposing material to the mid-point of the left edge; likewise, the line from that same corner to the midpoint of the bottom edge passes through the out-of-focus drooping material on the right and the two specular highlights. All of this forms a subtle triangle, which provides flow around the dominant body of the image, encompassing the negative space.

As well as the triangle being anchored in the top corner, there is the clearer anchoring of the subject-form to the top edge of the image by the curve that links the two top corners. That there is so much composition and detail in a subject that is – by virtue of focus – effectively minimal is most fascinating.

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