Archive for June, 2012

Beautiful Morning

And I finally manage to catch up on the back-log with a post from another first-time-featured photographer, Adrian.

Beautiful Morning

Clearly, the dominant compositional aspect of this image is the use of negative space – the V-shaped prominence of cloud that creates a foil to direct the eye downwards, the to triplet of subtle, silhouetted subjects. That cloud reflects, duplicating the negative space within the river and thereby providing texture and foreground interest. The whole scene as we drift up the river, past the swans, is a gentle S-curve: barely perceptible to the inquisitive eye, but undeniable in the flow it induces in how one sees this colourful scene.

Also of interest is the second – more important but not quite so blatant – triangle, as formed by the line of swans and the new-risen sun. While the sun itself is very nearly centred, the slight off-centre placement allows it to act as a supporting element rather than the dominant focal point of the whole scene.

Another element, very powerful but so rarely employed, is the layers of this image: not just those resulting from cascade of hazed silhouetted, but also the horizontal stacking of cloud and water.

You might ask why the third swan, the one trailing, is more prominent in this scene. The answer is double: firstly, there is the obvious emphasis provided by its wake (which the other two lack); also, it sits on the intersection of horizontal primary golden ration, and vertical secondary (the horizon-line, beneath the buildings, sits on the primary).

A powerful composition, combined with very attractive colours. No wonder it was short-listed.

Essence Of Venice..

I was recently introduced to the work of Stockholm-based photographer Peter Levi, whose work tends towards the black and white – simply because it lets the spirit of the scene shine though.

This image is more than just a solid composition: it is an inspirational technique; an approach to capturing the essence of a setting that I have hot seen before, but which is perfectly suited to the Venetian mystique. San Giorgio Maggiore sits in sharp focus, in the distance, the horizon almost on the centre line, surrounded by the gaping expanse of negative space that is a cloudy sky and the silvery waters of the Laguna Veneta. The monastery’s façade and bell tower are placed perfectly on primary and secondary golden ratios, balanced by the lower profile of the isle extending right-wards.

But these elements are only a part of the scene. The real magic is in the foreground, blurred by both depth of field, and the motion of a the waterways during a 79 second exposure. The triplet of gondolas, ghosted in their gentle sway, truly does capture the spirit of this sinking city…

A masterpiece of imaginative technique enhancing composition.

Harbor wall abstraction

Now, Hennie Schaper continues with his discovery of his new home of Kampen… There is much to be uncovered.

Harbor wall abstraction

Hennie’s abstractions of shape are becoming ever more refined, compositionally. Here, as well as the obvious combination of lines and curves, we have the interplay of light and shadow, and some excellent use of (secondary and tertiary) golden ratios.

The combination of forms – the metal and its cast shadow – create a naturally appealing shape of a tick: sharp, straight line matched against an ever so gentle curve. Everything about the shape comes from the interplay of bright light and shadow. Light and dark. That it is set on a very simple, low-palette pattern of interlaced water lines and run-off streaking only serves to make the abstraction more appealing. Keeping the touch of green in where the two parts of the form meet was genius: so easy and almost instinctive to mask through desaturation, that almost-overlooked touch of colour emphasises the intersection point.

The golden ratio work here is quite complex. There are two vertical points of interest: the top and bottom points where the shadow meets the beam that casts it. The perfection? That these are perfectly positioned on the secondary and tertiary golden ratios. Horizontally, it is the lower of these points that is perfectly on the primary golden ratio. In themselves, getting these elements lined up in that way is impressive, but not too difficult. To combine it with the straight line anchoring the tick so firmly in the upper left corner, so it leads in from the blown-out part of the wall: that is a sign of dedication to precision.

A perfect balance of forms and contrasts, sitting on all the right intersections.

Catherine

We return now to Canadian photographer Sandy Phimester, and his film-based work with local models.

Catherine

While I could look at the two images here independently, and comment on the strength of each’s composition, it is the combination into a diptych that has real power. With its convergent leading lines and more pronounced contrast between subject and setting, the right-side image is quicker to draw one’s attention. The female form, is side-on silhouette, is undeniably captivating. But Catherine’s pose provides the element of direction to redirect one’s attention, back to the left, and the tighter portrait.

Therein, while the contrast is between elements within the model’s appearance; a full range of tone giving depth to her form.

The balance between the two images is, itself, masterful composition. Contrasting contrasts. Both black and white, yet so very different. Both capturing the essence of Catherine’s beauty.

There is more to the composition of an image than what is within it. There is the world it occupies…

Inside Dandelions

It’s another outing for my friend Lorraine Anderson, with a look at the detail – and beauty – within.

Inside Dandelions

There are some things around us we take for granted. We see them as they appear at the scale with which we interact with them, but forget to step back to embrace the bigger picture, or have not the patience to peer into the heart of their structure. Here, Lorraine has done the latter, exploring the subtlest detail within a dandelion flower. She has taken dew dops and expanded them to the side of marbles, or crystal balls.

The immediate compositional strength of this image comes, quite obviously, from the shallow depth of field that is a hallmark of macro imagery. Also, there is the clear diagonal – corner to corner – marked out by the dandelion feathers. If that were all, it would be merely a nice shot. There are, however, more elements that come into play here: the leading lines of the stalks, beaded with droplets of morning freshness, that anchor the diagonal to the left side of the image; the repetition of a mysterious image captured within the dozens of crystal balls; the delicate nature of this so often dismissed natural beauty.

Stunning. Soothing.

Quins…

Despite a trip to Hawaii and resultant pictures, it is an image from close to home that is Claire McFarlane‘s next feature here.

Capturing a single butterfly well is difficult enough; five neatly arranged in a compositionally enhancing line is quite a feat. Here, though there are five, two conspire to steal the show, with the other three – varyingly out of focus – providing a strong leading line which also anchors the image. Our main subjects face off against each other, dancing about the primary and secondary golden ratios – an excellent example of how this proportion allows repetitive sub-division which provides for ever more subtle interactions.

The shallow depth of field also serves here, helping to emphasise the primary subjects by separating them both from the softened background and the immediacy of the diagonal leading line.

A shot to be proud of.

Into the heart

Now, Hennie Schaper gets creative in the floral department.

Into the heart

Yes, I know. Flower macro. Been there, done that. It’s not like… well, maybe it is a little like… A flower macros shot that actually stands out, that adds something more to the pot than just prettiness of form, is rarer than one might imagine, given the obscene number of such shots taken. This one takes a different view of things floral.

The tight crop is the key to this image’s success, removing the “distraction” of the outer petal shape. We go beyond the floral, into an alien world of distorted space and organic patterns: a descent into some unknown, from which some unknowable life form emerges. There is a sense of direction, as we are sucked into this funnel, and the sinuous creatures come to meet us. We are lost going over that edge.

And, of course, those details of life are placed where they should be, nicely about the golden ratio intersection within this passage between worlds.

Yes, floral macros could indeed become addictive.

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