Archive for the ‘ Framing ’ Category

Washer Woman

Another shot from my Flickr contact Ethan‘s trip through Burma – it’s all in the little details…

Washer Woman

There are three parts to this image, though most people probably only notice the first – the most prominent – which grabs the viewer’s attention. That primary element is the subject: the washer woman, in stark silhouette, but distinct enough in form that there is no doubt what she is doing, or of her role in society. She is the balance that holds all else together: yin to society’s yang, which is reflected in the wrapping curvature of her body shape and the complementary form that is not silhouetted.

The placement of this balancing symbol perfectly on the intersection of lower primary and left-side secondary golden ratios is a clear element of mathematical balance. Though the image might still work otherwise, the impact would be nowhere near as evocative.

The second element is the secondary scene: the land beyond the lake, with its faint layering of trees: a cascade of softer shadow-silhouettes as one climbs above the secondary golden ratio that is the water’s edge, towards the far distance of the sky.

And lastly, the emptiness of one of the most powerful framing elements of all: negative space. The expanse of water fills at least half the image, and yet it is not there, but for the texture that gives it scale.

Undeniably powerful.


Winters mists

Again, Adrian produces a stunning composition around the fowl and waterways east of London…

Winters mists

While one might be immediately drawn to the soft tones of this image, and the way the morning mist emulates a shallow depth of field by obscuring the horizon, it is a combination of compositional elements that is the real strength behind it. The more obvious of these is the dominant arc of the river – a leading line into the distance, through the tiny focal point of the swan silhouetted against the reflected sun.

The real power, however, stems from a far more mundane part of the image: the two clumps of foreground roughness, which fulfils a triple role of foreground interest, balanced anchoring elements, and framing elements that point in towards the bird as they offset the negative space of the pastel sky.

Peaceful, yet empowered.


Every once in a while, Lorraine Anderson reappears on Flickr and posts something dramatic. This time, it is a floral abstract.

Iris 2

This image is very simple in its composition: a soft sea of purple traced with veins (a pattern/texture), cut through with a vibrant dash of yellow. It is tightly cropped, making it abstract. There is direction, and there is undulation in the sinuous curves of the petals: yes, there is an S-curve into the plane of the image; and though we see only two dimensions, the shading and slight loss of focus around the edges makes it clear that there is a descent over on the right side.

The positioning of the streak of brightness is excellent, vertically on the golden ration and horizontally just reaching out to the tertiary where it disappears – heading out of the frame, which works largely because of the touches of green which anchor the destination from either side.

Artful flowers are all the rage, it would seem.

Early Afternoon Snack

Time to add a new name to the list of people whose work has featured in this blog; I stumbled across Sallie Anderson‘s work just yesterday, and could not resist this nibble.

Early Afternoon Snack

Always look them in the eye, they say. But they are wrong. Sometimes, it is the alternate angle which will make a shot most powerful. As here, where viewing this bird from behind helps capture its power. The partial silhouette emphasises the harshness of the setting, and the absolute dominance of beast over its domain.

The dominant compositional form here is the triangle, pinned in the lower corners and rising to the bird as the focal point: the branch acting as both anchor and framing element. While this in itself is impressive, it is very interesting to see how the forms of the stark supporting shapes balance the scene with key golden ratios: the branch’s knee on the left the intersection of the vertical primary and horizontal secondary; the upper left corner of the nest near enough to primary intersection and the upper right aligned with the tertiary on that side. The bird’s head, despite being turned away, sits on the horizontal double golden ratio.

The way all those points balance each other, within the overall triangular shape, with emptiness on the left, allows the subject’s stillness nonetheless to capture a sense of direction into the negative space of the frame.

An eloquent statement of nature.

Hot Tulip

Showing a different side to his work, a pluck from the Edwards Garden by Pavel Muller.

There is an art to making a floral shot look unique. Everyone with a camera has, at one point or another, pointed it at a flower. And for the most part, those images are plain, uninspiring. This is different. There are four elements that come into play in this image, to create the magic of this shot. Perhaps the most important is the tight depth of field – that there is detail in the heart of the frame but all around a dreamy veil has been pulled. The eye has only one place to settle, in the centre on the double-triangle – the V-shape – that is in sharp focus.

The third aspect is the processing: the choice to make this image black and white (well, technically an off-sepia), and to play up the contrast. That provides textured definition to the in-focus petals, while also creating a vibrant chaos within the out-of-focus areas.

And lastly, we come back to the focus, and the body that the out-of-focus parts on left and right have: they are solid in their presence, creating a double-framing which lifts the subject area – the core petals – out of the image, making them more prominent.

A unique approach to flower photography.

lost elephant seal

After a very long break, it is time for an emotive image from my Flickr contact Florian Sprenger (mav_at).

lost elephant seal

Death. It is disturbingly photogenic, when approached in the right way. There is a powerful story told. This is no exception: the form, large and sinuous, recedes out of focus to the depths of timelessness: a powerful S-curve (which is a very lively shape). The curve is subtle enough that it combines into two other compositional principles: the diagonal, and the triangle, both formed from the same skeletal elephant seal.

But it is the skull, dominant, that holds our attention, perched as it is on the disturbed texture of the foreground sand. Its stark tones and sharp focus pull it forward, assisted but the diagonal/triangle/S-curve of the body, which is itself framed subtly by the dark background elements in/near the upper corners.

And then, there is the mysterious organic detail to be seen inside the skull, through the nose hole. Some living structure that has survived the ravages of time, weather and scavengers.

Very emotive.

Amra jara dekhiyachhi

And returning now, jsut as I thought I was running out of images to post, the ever-dependable Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.).

Amra jara dekhiyachhi

As with so many of Aftab’s images, this has both powerful composition and a colour palette that makes it enrapturing; shooting into a setting sun, in autumn, with a wide angle lens, is bound to create a dramatic scene. There are so many elements at play here that it is hard to decide which to start with. I suppose working from outside to in, picking out the more subtle compositional mechanics is as good a place to start as any.

With that, we have borders – delicate and barely noticeable, but nonetheless there, providing an edge where the eye can stop. One might ask whether they are needed; I think that the unorthodox placement of the image’s focal draw calls for them. One could consider the swathe of tree in the top left corner to be framing, but I would say that is more a bit of background; an element that happened to be there, but not itself the compositional core. The framing, as it happens, is provided by one half of the foreground interest: the larger tree shadow, which stretches across some 60% of the width. The split shadow, pointing in – triangular – is the dominant directional element.

I mentioned that there are two elements of foreground interest: the second is the scattering of leaves, which provide colour within the darkness of asphalt. From here we move forward, along the shadows’ leading lines (they have many compositional behaviours, it is true), to the subject of the image, the wide expanse of Earth’s curvature, from the fields of a life-sustaining farm to the reminder of each’s mortality: the graveyard. (And there you were thinking the subject was the sun, and the trees.)

Now, at last, we come to the sun, placed perfectly between the primary and secondary golden ratio lines, casting the three dominant trees into sharp silhouette, haloed in a fire of glowing red foliage. And the reason the trees are themselves so well balanced? It should be obvious that their placement – the gaps between them – mark out another perfect golden ratio.

A masterwork of photographic philosophy.

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