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.

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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.

curves

It’s time now for a little more black and white sand from Florian Sprenger.

curves

From a compositional perspective, this image is very simple. Simplicity, however, does not mean it is any less impactful.

The dominant feature is quite obviously the S-curve, that is the entire subject of the shot. The eye cannot help but be drawn in along its line, from the slightly out of focus foreground that anchors in the lower left corner, up-across, back and around, passing from one curve to the next and to the third – the differentiation between them only real in the visual sense, not the compositional.

The stark contrast also plays into the scene, and the impact of the curves – the success of the S as an abstracted subject – is a direct result of the tight crop.

A ride one cannot get off without looking away.

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.

fenced in

First featured only four posts ago, Adrian gets another mention…

fenced in

This is an interesting shot, in the way the interplay between the two subjects works.

On the one hand, we have a centred sun, a ball of luminescence that actually has texture to it, which is surrounded by bordering elements: the negative space outside the silhouetted fence. In the lower left side, the fence additionally provides framing in the form of the curved wire.

The second subject is the fence itself, and the finer details of the coarse vegetation that accompanies it – black-lined details against a very simple background. The part where it interacts most directly with the background, despite being but tracery besides the more solid forms of posts and barbed wire, is fascinating. Because of this double-subject, the fence falls into the rarely seen compositional category of subject as border.

It is impressive that something as easily overlooked as a rough section of fence could hold such visual fascination.

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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