Archive for the ‘ Layers ’ Category


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.


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


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.

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.

Triangles And Flowing Lines

Returning to his excellent photography of beautiful women, Andy Poupart now presents us with a piece of fine art.

Leaving aside any discussion regarding the sensuality of the subject, we have here a finely composed piece of art: light and dark, form conveyed through subtle touches of detail; a dominant diagonal, extending through tightly controlled lighting into a frame-filling triangle; and the whole thing anchored in the lower right corner.

We even have, as a bonus, the echo of parallel lines: layering.


try expanding your capacity for wonder

My friend Kate Mellersh posted this unfocused beauty a few days ago…

There is something about the abstraction of a completely out-of-focus image that can be extremely appealing, especially as here where that lack of focus translates into strangely patterned specular highlights (try complaining about the imperfection in your lens when it creates effects like this). What makes this image work so well is the motion – the flow of the white spots from the upper left side towards us, spreading slightly as they flow towards the lower right corner. The orange highlights acting as a second layer to this theme of movement anchor the image in that corner, and the green sets up balance on the left. Add in the soft blue background and we have a full palette.

Magical: there is no other single word to describe it.

Walking On The Moon

Alternating the themes of his posts, Andy Poupart (andy_57) takes us back to the salt flats…

The stark world of the Badwater Basin is indeed alien, very much alive in its crawling textures, organic ridges that snake hither and yon like creeper roots seeking any trace of moisture. But the stuff of life floats high above, wispy, spinning its own patterns across the blue dawn. Life and death mirrored.

The foreground is the clear winner in this composition – the draw into a larger scene, but is the prime subject also. There is no escaping that texture. It offers a few more gems in the lines it carves: the double-golden ratio (1.618 : 0.618) on the right marks the point where the largest ridge finds the edge of the frame. The dominant lines in the foreground trace out hints of triangles… incomplete in some places, warped in others. And it all ends that the golden ratio between the double golden ratios (at 2 : 1.618 from the bottom), a perfectly positioned horizon.

Above that line, like a diptych, is a separate composition, magical in its own way.

The eastern ridge is wonderfully interleaved with the light of the rising sun, creating a layered effect from what would at any other time have been no more than a solid silhouette. And that light is simply dreamy; a perfect awakening.

Verily from another world.

Is it an abstract…?

My return to posting coincided well with the return of Claire McFarlane (missnoma) from her tropical holiday.

They say that balance comes in threes – or any odd number for that matter. This is an excellent example of that theorem: the eye flits effortlessly between the three lines of wing, leaving the mind to wonder if it is real, or simply made to look like a butterfly (three wings, without a matching pattern between two of them does not sound right for a single butterfly – but what would I know?). That the wings pinch together more at one end than the other also adds a triangular element to the composition

The placement of this triplet of lines along the diagonal keep the whole abstraction contained within the frame, and the contrasting alternation of bright and dark banding between the edge-on layering of wings provides a sense of evolution and change as one’s gaze drifts across the line of the dominant diagonal.


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