Archive for the ‘ Subtlety ’ Category

Koto dur ar koto dur

Back again, having waited far too long with this next image (and what remains in the to-post queue), with another stunningly serene image from my friend Aftab Uzzaman.

Koto dur ar koto dur

Unlike many of the images have posted here over the last year and a half, this one does not include any particularly strong golden ratios. There is no strong diagonal. The suggestion of anchoring is tenuous at best. Indeed, there is very little in this image; it is the emptiness – the near-infinite expanse of negative space, given meaning through the subtle gradient from blues to orange, and back – that makes for the key draw here. The image’s detail, mostly silhouetted, is packed into the thinnest slice of the scene. We can drift through and beyond, with nary a distracted though.

Of course, for those in need of a little more compositional integrity, there is always the tightened S-curve in the river’s flow as it disappears into the distance.


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.

The Question

When it comes to stunningly lit images of models, Andy Poupart is one of the most accomplished photographers I know; technically faultless, with a great sense of style.

Tell a story, they say. Make the elements of your image interact in a way that tells us more about what is going on that the simple placement of subject matter within a setting. With studio-based model photography, that directive is perhaps more important than ever; the seamless grey/white background provides little context of its own. There is only the model, and her interaction with the camera, or perhaps a few props.

Here, the key to the composition is that interaction. Both Pearl’s gaze, and the so-light touch of her fingertips create a connection between her and the stool. There is a sense of direction inherent in her pose; predominantly (given her height) vertical, but with a horizontal component inferred by the juxtaposition of the two subjects. That the subjects are places on the horizontal golden ratios (one almost through through the centre of the stool, the other straight down Pearl’s centre line) also helps with the interactive balance (the scene would simply not have worked as well had the spacing been based on thirds).

There are two further compositional elements that make this such a strong image: the very subtle S-curve implied from the model’s pose, with head and leg providing the offset to the clean vertical of her torso; and the cleanliness of the setting, the minimalist studio environment that provides a sense of encompassing negative space – not so much on the sides, but the emptiness behind Pearl.

A most stunning lady in red.

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.



I have to admit to being very proud of Jenny Downing, who has come so very far from thinking she had no clue about composition to one of the best I know at churning out stunningly balanced images. And this one, instead of working by feel, she worked very hard to get just right, to balance for optimal impact. The effort was an unmitigated success.

lambentThe most amazing way to create a powerful diptych is to do it subtly, without using two image; to divide the composition of the one scene in such a way that there are two parts, clear and distinct. Here, that diptych effect is applied not to the subject, but to the setting – to the the luminosity of the reflection: light and dark; a powerful contrast that hold the eye in the area between, there fine details can be found. The eye may stray into the out-of-focus areas, but the balance of opposing forces brings it quickly back to the tight line of focus, where the interest is to be found.

That detail, of course, sits precisely upon the horizontal golden ratio (the dark band on the right is the secondary, obviously), and the point where the cross-beam passes through the focal plane is itself on the vertical golden ratio. The eye is drawn by many forces – optimal position, leading lines, interest, focus, to that one point, where it may explore intricacies in the patterned detail, sketched in harsh relief by the strong light.

An absolutely magnificent piece of work – a graduation assignment if ever there was one. Jenny has most definitely mastered her composition.

For every dream that burnt out..

It’s time for one more from Ananya Rubayat (dream_maze) who is being playful with light and dark…

For every dream that burnt out..

The most obvious aspect of this image is the Chiaroscura – the play of extreme lighting and subtle details in the folds of darkness. The contrast creates an interesting diptych: with a different image in each, the one playing off the other, but both also acting as negative space for the alternate. In that respect, this is an amazingly intricate image.

On the right, with the eye placed vertically at the midpoint and horizontally on the primary golden ratio, Ananya is a subtle, mysterious form, looking out at a bright world – almost as though she is looking into some other world, or it is her gaze that is lighting it up. The light is blindingly bright, so empty.

From the left, we have a double arc (thereby forming an interesting S-curve), the one outlining the realm of light, and the inner a brighter inner world. The whole is contained by the dominant expanse of dark negative space encroaching upon it, while the magic of shadows and motion plays out within its space.

A truly gorgeous piece of work; spellbinding.


Marcus Lam (DodogoeSLR) has only one previous mention herein, but that is largely because he doesn’t post enough. When he does, many are impressive shots, as this not-really-ex.


There are many things one can do with portraiture photography to make the the image really stand out. Most involve a slight twist on the standard view of a person. Here, there are two of those techniques used, and several other compositional elements that make this an excellent work. The most obvious differentiator here is the use of a landscape rather than a portrait view of a subject who is, essentially, upright. This provides borders in the form of the negative space background, allowing the eye to wander sideways a little, but always be drawn back to Erica. The second twist is the choice to light her back, throwing the face into high contrast, and allowing the overall form of her perch atop those heels to dominate over any overt femininity.

While those two aspects may be the elements that make the image stand out, it is the compositional elements that keep one glued to it: the prevalence of triangles (head and bent arm; body to extended hand; tighter body and leg shape), and the way they interact with fine but stark lines, which bring the eye upwards to that devilish smirk.

It may be a simple shot, but it is subtle; enticing.

%d bloggers like this: