Thursday, March 19, 2009

Patterns and composition

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8

When a photo depicts several distinct elements, without any of them standing out, the image may become confusing and uninteresting. In the absence of an obvious attention grabber, the viewer's eye must be lead as it travels along the image, otherwise it may quickly get lost among randomly distributed information. A photographer should therefore compose the image so that some kind of order or pattern is sufficiently evident. This can be done by actually changing the subjects' position, when possible (there is nothing unethical in that!), or by choosing a more appropriate framing or perspective.

The two photos above were taken during a recent beach walk. A 85mm lens on an APS-C sized sensor is great for framing small subjects on the ground, without having to bend over in uncomfortable and inelegant positions. In the first one, the curved pattern created by the water stream on the sand and seaweeds is quite obvious. The second one is a bit more subtle. The seaweeds seem to draw a spiral that ends in the mussels in the center. Without this imaginary curve unifying the different elements, the image would not have much to stand on, since both the seaweeds and the mussels are, by themselves, quite unremarkable.

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