Posts Tagged ‘ Jenny Downing ’


Returning after a short break (at least from being featured here), we have more from compositional star Jenny Downing.


While the concept of a still life comprising a pair of empty wine glasses is nothing new, this has to be one of the best results I have seen in the area. As can be expected from Jenny, the placement of the subjects plays on golden ratios: one glass straddling the left horizontal, while the right divider sits perfectly atwixt the glazen subjects. Vertically, the primary golden ratios provide the containment for the main body of the containers, the lower being positioned at the top of the refracted patterns which perch atop the glass’ stems.

From a subject positional perspective, there is not much else to say. The image, however, has more going for it. Predominantly, this is in the form of the Chiaroscuro tone, offset by the subtler shades to be seen within the window’s light. That, negative space, balanced against the rim-lights of plates providing foreground interest, frames the subject very well, drawing the eye in to contemplate the distortion of pattern that decorates the subjects.

Perhaps the best use one can put wine glasses to…



We return once more to the tabletop work of Jenny Downing, and a little alien abstraction…


As with many if the images in this vein that Jenny has produced, the key to its beauty lies in a combination of factors: there is the abstraction of a simple object through a tight crop; the use of reflection to show the reality of the subject where the direct line of sight manages to remain out of focus; and strong lighting to pick out the most attractive elements of curvature.

In itself, the dominant aspects of harsh-contrast curves, abstracted as they are, would be enough to make this shot special. But add in the expert placement of the platter, ever so lightly toughing upper and left primary golden ratios, thereby creating a balance between subject and enclosing negative space, and we have pure harmony. Also, the contrast between the light lower half and the dark upper creates a subtle diptych within this soothing scene that flows generally horizontally.

Another fine example of considered placements.

Jenny Downing

beachedIn a new series of feature pages, we revisit now the work of Jenny Downing. Over the year this blog has been running, fifteen of Jenny’s pictures have graced its digital pages. Herein, a recap of her work, her voyage of compositional discovery, and a few of her own favourites over time.



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.


We have seen an image from Jenny Downing along this theme before within this blog, but this latest molluscan offering stand shell and tentacle above the other.


The most magical element of this shot has to be the palette. The soft pastel-earthy tones make the whole thing feel like a dream, in particular the almost luminous shell that so closely matches the rest of the surroundings. That dreaminess is then offset on closer examination, as we discover the wonderfully sharp detail of the snail’s texture, both in the backlit head and tentacle, and in the lower rim of the shell: the latter having a feel of some alien calligraphy.

There is also some excellent placement here: the subject’s head on the intersection of the horizontal primary golden ratio and the vertical mid-point, looking into the soft negative space of the wider expanse of the frame. The “neck” also aligns with the hidden tip of the supporting leaf, which sits nicely on the secondary golden ratio.

But all this other composition is as naught before the perfect S-curve of brightly lit shell extending into the recurved body.

Pure mastery.


Continuing a very strong trend of late, it is time for some more café magic from Jenny Downing.


It is an interesting conundrum – what, precisely, is the subject here? Is it the foreground curve of the mug in focus? Or the bubble transformed by specular highlight? Perhaps there is no subject, only abstraction.

My vote is for the second, for it is to the nebulous glow that the eye is drawn, seated as it is on the sharply defined rim-line. Why this point, and not the others? Because it sits on the intersection of the vertical primary golden ratio and the horizontal double (whereas the in-focus part does not quite reach the golden ratio). It also has the line of the handle pointing towards it, and the mixed curves of the shadow and edge of the coffee: leading lines.

It is quite interesting that this image manages to use the rim line for four purposes: as a strong diagonal, the diptych divider, the boundary of the negative space outside the subject area, and the above-mentioned support for the out-of-focus focal point. It could additionally be considered as the edge line of several of the curved triangular shapes within this image, which serve to give it the feel of abstraction.

Coffee, it would seem, is a source of creativity.


The trend of excellent posts continues, with this effort at linguistic education, from Jenny Downing. And to think she repeatedly claims not to know what she is doing…


While there are only a few elements to this image – if we assume that each blade of grass does not count as an individual element – the whole is fabulously complex in its composition, layers of intrigue. There is form – a roof, possibly – that, out of focus, provides a starting point for splitting the image into a diptych of dark and light along the diagonal. This provides a sense of direction along that diagonal, an echo/continuation of the one created by the foreground (but to that later). The simplicity of the distance makes the setting abstract, which works also to push attention to the foreground, the opposite corner, where the details are sharp.

In the middle distance, we have the specular highlights of a the out-of-focus dew drops, drawing us gradually, right to left, from the abstract to the focused: to the dominant subject that reaches up along that diagonal: the one blade of grass in sharp focus, its tip clad in a droplet of liquid that reaches the slightest fraction across the centre of the image.

Truly mesmerising – only a foggy mind would find it otherwise.

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