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.

  1. December 21st, 2011

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