Archive for the ‘ Mirroring ’ Category

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.


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.

The hype

Finally, I get to add my friend Samia (neelgolapi) to the list of those featured in this blog; and with the blue/pink her nickname implies.

The hype

For a subject that is mostly “flat”, the controlled depth of field here is impressive. But that is a feature coming from deeper consideration: the immediate compositional brilliance lies in the placement of the elements, and the echoes in the folds. Horizontally, the bud is on the double golden ratio. Its vertical position may appear ad hoc, but it actually sits perfectly on the 45° diagonal out of the bottom left corner.

The folds are something special. The play of light and dark creates leading lines, which contain as would concentric rings. Here, though, they are misshapen, adding triangular structures to the pattern. The one enclosed by the next, creates a flow that draws the eye as inexorably as the contrast between the pink and the blue. That the folds are repeated inside the bud only adds to the draw.


Kanaka Creek OxBow

It is time now for another outing from one of the best river photographers I know: Keith Rajala (maclobster).

Kanaka Creek OxBow

Of immediate interest in this image is the shape of the river, extending into the foreground and away in two arms which draw the eye ever into the depths of the distance. An excellent choice of location from which to shoot that allows this feature to be captured. But what makes this instance of this simple-enough approach to capturing an oxbow unique is that the form of the waterway is mirrored in the cloud, drawing the eye in to the same central place. Everything draws us in to the distant points of the river.

Adding to the already powerful composition, we have the horizon sitting perfectly on a golden ratio, and the highest treetops (left side) equally reaching up just far enough to touch the upper golden ratio. The log (bottom right) provides foreground interest to the whole.

There is an additional element here that Keith does exceedingly well: the matting of the image to make it “presentable,” matching the border lines to the tone of the subject perfectly to make the whole pop.

A scene of powerful tranquillity.

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.

Protikkha (waiting eagerly)

Next up, an absolute stunner – a compositional jewel – from my friend Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.)


With an image this well put together, it is difficult to know where to start. The subject itself is appealing in its power and grace – immediately arresting. But we then have compositional elements that play into each other, holding it all together. There is the powerful diagonal formed by the snake’s head and the upper curves of its body, extended forward in the texture of the log into the bottom corner: this provides the primary axis of the scene.

But also, the loop of body ion conjunction with the diagonal creates a triangle that dominates the scene, one that combines with the limited depth of field to pull the eye off the primary line, balancing it perfectly between foreground and distance. (There is, of course, the implicit – perhaps overly pronounced – S-curve in there too.) The balance does not stop there. The presence on the right side is balanced nicely by the out-of-focus negative space background that occupies the top left of the image. Soft, and the source of the lighting.

Then, fortuitously, there is one more element that works wonders: the knot on the side of the branch, just to the left of the snake’s body curve, that though not an exact mirroring, still acts as an echo of the form of its head: a virtual shadow.

Two additional elements also work in the image’s favour: the rather harsh lighting, and the natural pattern of scales that it picks out.

If danger were always this beautiful, we would all embrace it without fear.


It seems only fair – or is that just coincidentally ironic – that my first analysis here in some six weeks will be the farewell picture from my friend Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.), as he heads off once more to the wider world…

Journey As with so many of Aftab’s images, this has both an immediate visual impact in the dynamic range encompassed by the image, and a long tail of attraction in the compelling composition.

The split of the image into two halves – top and bottom – but with slightly different weighting to how those two areas work, creates a strong draw to the centre line, and the infinite distance it embraces. Effectively, a diptych.

In the top half, we have strong diagonal in the fiery texture of the clouds, from the upper right, leading us down until it reaches the left golden ratio, then angling back across the frame to the right edge. This gives a sense of curvature to the flow into the image.

In the bottom half, this is mirrored, though only in principle and effect. The elements that achieve the same lead-in are very different. The log anchors in the foreground, providing interest to draw us across the rough ground. Again, the golden ratio is used, but this time the right-side one. The curvature of that line combines with the flow of footsteps and tide lines to draw us, once more, across the frame to the right, into the “corner” where the two halves meet on that side.

Of course, the effect created on the image by the limited palette with it’s vibrant contrast conveys a strong mood of excitement and unknown, while still being calm. Additionally, the inclusion of the silhouetted individual adds a sense of time to the flow – the position is not so perfectly balanced on golden ratios as to hold the figure in place, so he is being dragged by time to the inevitability of that far right-side destination.

Yet another stunning piece of work.

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