Archive for the ‘ Direction ’ Category

Nature’s “A” Frame

Continuing with the work of one of the newest-featured photographers on this site, whose work is constantly of high compositional quality, we have another of Adrian‘s sunrises…

Natures "A" Frame

While the colours captured here might be enough to enthral the casual viewer, it is the compositional quality that really gives this image its power. Yes, the primary subject – the arc of the title, not the sun – is generally centred on the horizontal (it and the sun are both fractionally off, which helps give the scene a natural feel), but it is on the vertical that the scene really plays out.

The sun sits, as is to be expected, perfectly upon the lower primary golden ratio, with the shoreline directly beneath it on the lower double. The top of the arc comes in at a further subdivision of that double’s opposite (the double’s outer-most tertiary?)

The other interesting feature has already been mentioned: the slight offset of the centre line on the image. In itself, this is nothing fancy. But if we consider the tightening of the shore’s silhouette from right to left, it is only natural that the image’s balance point have been pushed slightly off kilter.

Simple, strong and peaceful

Aqualescence

Time to catch up with posting again, so here is a stunning piece of work from my Flickr friend Ethan, whose Burmese travels have produced a plethora of beautiful compositions.

Aqualescence

There are three compositional techniques used within this shot, turning something serenely simple into a powerhouse of interest. Most obvious is the pairing of silhouette (the man in his boat) and layers (which is really a subtle form of silhouettes, where light is diffused in between the masking elements. The majesty of the landscape is given definition through the layers of hills that descend to the water’s edge, one so close that it is nearly as dark as the primary subject. And so the subject merges into the natural scenery; the man-made in harmony with its surroundings.

The third attribute is the golden ratios. These are not quite as obvious as one might expect, but fully appropriate to the scene: the boat between (but not quite reaching) primary and secondary horizontal, and sitting on the secondary vertical (yes, the boat, rather than the horizon). This interestingly puts two of the background peaks on the vertical primaries.

That the boat is between primary and secondary golden ration, moving out of the scene, breaks the rule that the subject should be entering the frame, but it also adds a sense of story; that this is a timeless life, repeated father to son for countless generations.

Wonderfully peaceful

Bow Glacier Falls

It has been a few months since I last featured any of Keith Rajala‘s work, but that does not mean there has been any let-up in his quality.

Bow Glacier Falls

Reminiscent in some ways of Adams’ mountain shots – simple, compelling, with very carefully managed tonal ranges to bring out the finer details – this shot provides a sense of majesty, but controlled enough not to be overbearing.

As is de rigueur for a scene like this, it is perfectly proportioned: the foreground interest anchors in both lower corners, drawing the eye up against the water’s flow to the lower left intersection of primary golden ratios, where the detail in the tonal range keeps the eye endlessly occupied. Every part of the centre of the image includes a detail of form or texture – or nature’s rugged beauty – that could be studied indefinitely. And then the eye finally finds the falls themselves: hanging from the intersection of the right primary and upper tertiary golden ratios; a sweeping arc that tumbles lazily down the cliffs until to sweeps into the foreground path to complete a stunning S-curve.

Without doubt, a masterpiece of mountain scenery.

3 Mallard Ducks

In what is sure to become a regular featuring within these postings, recently added contact Adrian shows off more stunning composition and general photographic appeal.

3 Mallard Ducks

The basics of this image are very straightforward: we have a silhouetted foreground subject which provides a subtle diagonal over a soft and dreamy scene, lit by a newly risen sun placed on the primary golden ratio intersection. Already, it is textbook – contrast of solidity countering the softness of the tones employed.

And then the whole is taken up a notch, beyond the serene, by the inclusion of the titular ducks! The triplet, balances across the right-side secondary golden ratio (for added value, the balance between the single lead bird and the trailing two is naturally much closer to the lead, and that is exactly where the GR is), moving into the scene. A counterpoint within the negative space of that half of the image which manages to flip the composition completely, making the extras into the key subject and the foreground silhouette into framing.

Fabulous.

Volleyball at Dusk

After a very long wait, here’s a rather active image from my Flickr friend Allison.

OK, let’s admire the gradient colours of the sky for a moment. It’s not like I can draw your attention away from that. Now, let’s move on to the composition that takes advantage of that ever-so-vibrant lighting…

It is really quite impressive to see that a black dot against a coloured sky – a complete absence of anything to look at – can so completely give the impression of motion and action; of tension and expectation. While the nature of silhouettes provides form without disruption, the combination of anti-detail used here ends up telling a superior story.

Mostly, this has to do with the interaction of a triplet – the players – and a triangle – between players and ball. A double dynamic using very similar elements. That the whole scene occupies only a central band of the image, bounded top and bottom by so different forms of negative space, serves only to make obvious the openness of the playing environment, lending the scene gravitas.

Cascade Ponds

Next up, a powerfully alive landscape shot from Canadian Wendy Erlendson

One might think it easy to shoot a strongly composed landscape. That perception is nothing if not deluded. While a landscape may not be in motion, while it may simply be a case of getting into the right position, landscapes have many parts that all need to line up just right. It takes time to get from where you are to where you need to be; if even you know how the scene will evolve as you reposition yourself. And in the time it takes to get the static elements into place, the clouds and light can change enough that the shot no longer works.

In order to pull together a scene that makes people feel that they want to step into it, one needs to use a range of compositional elements. Clearly, having majestic elements helps, but in itself it is not enough.

Here, Wendy has started with the majesty of the mountain, the summit positioned on a golden ratio, and played on the reflection in the rippled waters. The duplicate ridge line runs parallel to the foreground shore, even going so far as to echo its unevenness. That foreground interest element, even though no more than a patch of grass, provides a further anchoring element as it nestles so tightly into the lower left corner. And finally, running back along the shoreline, we arc around the end of the water, and reach an actual as well as metaphorical bridge between fore- and middle-grounds. We arrive in a refined scene of pleasant calm – a small filed edged with trees – amidst all this majesty.

The additional processing here to emphasise the texture of the clouds does not so much enhance the composition as reinforce the original majesty of the setting.

Powerfully peaceful.

Something Noir

Next up in this return to posting, a stunning piece of model lighting from my friend Andy Poupart. Providing the form, the seductive Julie.

It’s quite obvious from the outset that this image breaks compositional rules. Not only is Julie positioned between the primary and secondary golden rations on the right side, her body language is providing a definite sense of movement in that same direction – through and out of the frame. And yet, the pose works powerfully in combination with the lighting and black and white processing.

In part, this is to do with the smooth yet powerful contrast across her features. Also, it is aided by the rough texture of the wall which acts as counterpoint to Julie’s soft form. That the lighting is clearly brighter out-of-frame to the right also helps provide validation for the sense of direction – dark an wild as she is, she cannot resist the light.

But the strongest element that allows the breaking of the rules to work is the arm that anchors the whole in the bottom left corner. It provides not only the anchor, but also a leading line and solid diagonal, as well as being one side of the most prominent triangle in the composition.

Another clear masterpiece.

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