Tag Archives: Geometry

Geometry and pattern in photography

There are patterns and geometries in so many things...

• Groundsmen •
There are patterns and geometries in so many things…
Click image to view large
• Groundsmen • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Geometry and pattern appear everywhere.

Spotting it is about having an eye for lines and curves. The essence of a geometric relationship is what we look for in order to bring out pattern and balance.

How does geometry get into an image.

Geometry and pattern are closely related. They interact because the eye is able to pick out patterns. We are adept at spotting the non-accidental relationships involved in lines and curves. When these lines and curves intersect in a meaningful way we recognise something – something constructed.

By way of example, one such relationship we see in pictures is bridges. They often appear in landscape photographs. They add a geometric potency to the apparent chaos of nature and seem to pull a scene together by drawing one end to the other in an image. They do this because the eye is trained to follow lines. Bridges represent significant lines, and sometimes curves, so that they are distinguished from the surrounding natural landscape. To us this is a powerful draw to the eye.

The patterns we see in so many thing around us are not just an accident. They are part of our man-made landscape. So getting these patterns into our pictures is about becoming sensitive to them and then pointing them out. Pointing them out is interesting to the eye, and so you capture your viewers attention.

Wembley Stadium

On a tour visit to the new Wembley Stadium I took the picture above. It all came together by chance. I was listening to the guide and noticed these three groundsmen working on the grass. They were doing something where they stopped every few moments and did something to the grass. I watched them for a few minutes and took five photographs of them and their surroundings. Then, just as our guide told us to follow him, the three groundsmen stopped to work and, for just a moment, they were in a perfect line. They fell into a wonderful geometric relationship with the rest of the scene.

The different geometry’s in this scene are varied and expressive. The whole scene is about lines, angles and intersections. The grass is contained in a surrounding of geometric shapes in the seats and the stadium itself. The grass is marked out for Soccer. The grass has been mowed and the patterns coincide with the soccer markings. The lines of seats in the stands line up with the grass lines… and so on. The great thing about this shot is the new layer of geometry created by the groundsmen. How they fell in line was a bonus. The fact that their geometry intersects with the other geometries around them creates a new reality. The implied line of the men bisects the angle of the goal mouth marking. They also line up with the grass mowing lines. Thier position is at a lovely angle to the other lines that are so strong around them…

For one glorious second all the geometries in this scene have an intimate correspondence. They accidentally created a wonderful new synthesis. A synthesis that was deliciously temporary.


The extraordinary thing about photography is its ability to bring to notice things that would pass you by in other situations. Patterns and geometries in the world around us are really great ways to pick up the essence of a scene. Geometry can be a great linker in a scene. Or, it can be a counterpoint, organisation to emphasise chaos. Similarly pattern can draw a scene together by structuring similarities.

Being sensitive to lines and curves and their relationships is a useful skill for a photographer. When you are out and about make an effort to allow your eye to run along lines and follow curves. When you start to do it regularly you will begin to find some extraordinary relationships between them.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Simple ideas about perspective in photography

Perspective is all about using visual clues to emphasise dimension

Perspective is all about using visual clues to emphasise dimension. Your picture needs to use defined edges, lines and direction to give the eye something follow into the image.
• Perspective • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

The concept of perspective is related to visual clues.

What we see in the world around us is created in our heads. We see things in the environment and from that build up a picture. Here we look at the sense of perspective.

Visual clues

Previously in ‘The easy way to give depth to landscapes’ and Easy introduction to ‘visual elements’ in photographs I introduced ‘visual elements’. These are strong signals in the world that help us see. They are mostly edges, lines, curves, shapes, form and so on. We see things because the edges of objects have a detectable contrast with something beside it. Our eyes spot that change and, in doing so, see depth. Edges give us strong clues about the nature of our world so our eyes are trained to follow them.

The nature of perspective

Our innate sense of perspective has always been there to enable us to function as biological animals. Perspective in art is a different matter. In terms of human history reproducing perspective has been a late arrival (see: Perspective – compositional ideas). What made the difference was understanding the relationship between lines, or in natural terms, edges.

Three dimensional geometry explained the way lines created depth. This geometric depth also mimicked form in nature. On mastering the idea of a cube or other geometric forms we see how the lines work. If you look at a cube corner you see three edges trending away from you. You are looking at depth created by the edges.

Parallel lines provide strong perspectives. In the picture above there are lots of parallel lines which give depth to the picture. The main red line – the bus lane – is a vanishing point perspective or ‘single point’ perspective. It is notable by its coming together (convergence of the lines) near the horizon. By experience we know this is a long distance away. The convergence has created distance into the picture.

In the bridge there is ‘two point’ perspective. You can see depth because the darker underside is defined by its lighter up-edge (the wall of the bridge). This two-point perspective exists for us even though we cannot see the roof or the other side to confirm ‘form’ (3D) rather than shape (2D).

Of course the glass stairway to the bridge has three point perspective. Like the cube we can see depth – the top edge of the building, the bottom edge of the building both converge (two point). The convergence imparts depth. However, the width of the building (shown by the top and bottom edges), and the height gives us the three dimensions. Our visual clue for this. on the front-face. is the non-convergence of lines in the width/height plane. Although this front-face is a curved glass wall we can still see it does not have a distance perspective away from us.

All the clues are there

You now have the clues, or visual elements to determine depth through perspective. Converging lines with distance from the eye impart a feeling of distance away from you. Parallel lines with no convergence give you flatness or non-distancing when they face you. This works with both height and width.

I chose the picture above for the strong perspectives that it imparts. The powerful lines make it easy to see the almost exaggerated proportions that contribute to perspectives. Sometimes its not so easy in nature. Have a look at the picture below…

Looking up the River Thames from Marlow, Bucks, UK

Looking up the River Thames from Marlow, Bucks, UK. The perspectives are not as clear as direct straight lines. Yet the picture has depth because we are adept at seeing ‘edges’ and trends in lines when we look at nature.

Click image to view large.
• Looking up the River Thames • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

The edge on the right hand side looking up river barely exists – it disappears off the side of the shot. Yet the small part that is there at the top implies there is a bank all the way down the right. The left bank on the other hand is not well defined as a line. However, our eyes are trained to see it as a ‘trending’ line. The line of trees (left) and the implied line (right) therefore creates a converging pair of lines in the distance to where the river rounds the bend.

Despite there being no strong lines in this picture we can see a converging point perspective. Dimensionality is added by the height of the trees and the width of the river. The width diminishes between the two banks as we look progressively up stream, more evidence of distance and convergence. The height and width we intuitively know because our eye determines sizes by measuring them against boat and people sizes (known element sizes). Perspective is all in the visual elements.

Understanding is not precise

We do not all understand perspective in the same way. Some notable art schools have denied our innate understanding of perspective and space. The Cubists are an example of this, notable among them Pablo Picasso  External link - opens new tab/page the famous Cubist painter. Nevertheless, we all understand depth in the world around us. We don’t live in a two dimensional world. However, in our images we have to create the sense of depth in a two dimensional medium.

The second picture, the river scene, shows us how to define depth. We need, as photographers, to become observers of lines and trending lines. Similarly, we should be able to spot shapes and forms that are both defined and ill-defined. Then we need to be able to view them as if a geometric model. If we can see these lines, in nature and in man-made things, then we can find ways to compose our picture to bring them out. It is this last part that is the most important part of the composition process.

If we give the viewer a perspective in our shots, we create a world. We want it to be a three dimensional world that the viewer can imagine going into. When we choose compositions that emphasise these lines we dispose of the two dimensional picture and create an image to look into.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Seven examples of abstract photography

Abstract photography taps into something deep in us.

It reveals elements of a subject rather than the whole subject. Abstracts examine the mystery of a subject though the parts we normally ignore in favour of the whole. It is this that makes an abstract unique.

In Definition: Abstract Photography we examined what makes an abstract. In the article Abstract Photography we examined abstracts in photographic terms and how to take abstract photographs. We looked carefully at the sort of properties or attributes of a subject to consider when taking abstract shots. In this post we are going to see some examples.

How to look at an abstract

The concept of an abstract is about the elemental make-up, the properties and attributes, of a subject. Often when we see something we tend to regard is as a whole. Abstracts explore the components that make the whole. We consider those in their own right rather than as their contribution to the whole. To appreciate an abstract try not to second-guess its part in the whole. Appreciate it for what it is – a thing which has its own properties, attributes and aesthetics.

Seven examples of abstracts



Light-Shadow By ~LuceAnima

On Deviant Art


Golden Fins By Richard Homer

Golden Fins By Richard Homer


Abstract Photography

Abstract Photography
By d o l f i

 Abstract  No shape change.

Abstract – No shape change. By Tanakawho


Abstract-blue-sono2531a – By Ara_gon
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/ara_gon/4035403/

Abstract in black, blue and white

Abstract in black, blue and white by Xollob58
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/xollob58/3049040298/

abstract mini

Abstract mini – By Ary Snyder
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/arysnyder/4178120542/

Further exploration by links…

Abstracts on Flickr…  External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on Deviant Art External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on 500px External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on 365Project… External link - opens new tab/page

How can hidden lines help your pictures?

Geometetry in your pictures works to help you see patterns. It draws the eye into the picture.

Geometetry in your pictures helps you see patterns. It draws the eye into the shot.

Look for patterns and geometry in your shots… capture the eye

The human brain is an extraordinary filter. We see things in the world around us that capture our attention all the time. Often it is a pattern that fires our imagination. We may not even be aware of it. We are programmed to see patterns in the world, and we are very good at finding them.

When composing, look for lines to associate.

When composing, look for lines to associate. If you can get lines to hold a pattern with strong geometry your composition will have a more compelling impact.

The geometry in a picture is not always obvious. First of all look to join up points of interest. Lines can be made by the eyebrows, the eyes themselves, the mouth, the nose, the connection with other aspects of the picture… in fact a lot of things. So what you are looking for to create strong lines is anything that has a prominent part of the picture. In the portrait here, we are looking at lines with the eyes/eyebrows. The eyes are always strong. The mouth is a strong feature too. So if you can line up these things with other prominent features of the picture you are revealing the strong points. That’s right, its simple. Lines are strong in a picture because they catch the eye. I have identified the eyes and mouth, the sides of the head and the lines from the hand to the mid-point of the eyes as strong aspects of the picture. There is no mystery here. You need to look for prominent points and edges. The way they create implied lines, join up or connect is what creates a pattern.

The use of geometry is a very old technique in composition of paintings. It can also enhance our photographs.

In the second picture (above) I show how the portrait has been dissected by lines that pull out the geometry. Of course in a photograph we don’t have the luxury of perfect alignment. Painters can map out thier work ahead of the actual painting. Photographers have to look at the subject-scene and do their best to analyze how it holds together, or work the scene to achieve a well proportioned pattern.

In the case of the portrait I have shown three sets of lines. First it is unusual to get a dynamic relationship out of a centre line. However, in this picture the mid-line of the face, the knuckles and tie all line up. So to emphasize it I have featured this in a central position.

Of course a more dynamic relationship comes out in pictures with strong diagonals. Faces on the diagonal are quite powerful. Our eye is trained to know faces very well after years of social interaction. So when they are not in an upright position our eye has to work harder to resolve them. This is good. The eye lingers and goes around the face. It takes into account the different aspects of the face and the way it is inclined within the frame.

Not only have we got a face on the diagonal but we have a close relationship to the rule of thirds. In this portrait it is not a perfect correspondence. However, the proportions are reasonable and there is a pattern.

There is nothing perfect about applying geometry to photographs. The photographer usually has to guesstimate the lines, thier association and the way they may work to give impact to the picture. However, it is up to you to find ways to do that.

Geometry in mathematics is all about perfection and calculation. In photography it is about finding ways to pull out pattern and emphasize the strengths in the picture. Our eyes look for patterns and when we find well proportioned geometric relationships we are pleased and intrigued. It is another way to bring more impact to our pictures.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Abstract photography – what it is and how to do it

Abstract photography - great pictures and lots of fun!

'Red' - In the style of Rothko
Abstract photography can produce great pictures and be lots of fun!
Concentrate on colour, form, shape and focus for best effect.
Click to view large.

What is Abstract Photography?

“Abstraction forces you to reach the highest level of the basics.”

Alan Soffer

Abstract photography concentrates on the very simplest of components in a piece of art. Those are are known as the “Elements of Art”. They are…

  • Line;
  • Two dimensional shape (2d);
  • Three dimensional (3d) form;
  • Colour;
  • Space;
  • Tone, and
  • Texture.
Extra dimensions in abstract photography

Two extra dimensions are often found in abstract photography. One is the use of ‘movement’ – mostly through movement-blur. Perhaps, used more often is the use of focus, especially by controlling the depth of field. In addition, abstracts often incorporate “pattern”, which is a more complex structure from the “Principles of Art”.

Photo abstracts take the viewer away from knowing or recognizing the subject. Instead they invite the viewer to almost ‘feel’ the textures, forms and other elements of the subject. Often abstract photography makes the object unrecognisable as an object in its own right. Instead it directs attention to the look and feel – the essence of the object.

For a more detailed definition of Abstract Photography check this page in our Glossary…
Abstract Photography – a Definition

How to Shoot Abstracts

Abstracts are about our creativity and not about the object. The simple shot above, with its rich emotional orange, is a glass of water coloured with red dye and slightly backlit with a desk lamp. Many abstracts are created using the simplest things – often they are found around the home. Abstract photography is all about simplicity. Getting down to the basics is often the best route to a good abstract.

Using the “Elements of Art”

The list above is perhaps difficult to think about in terms of actually creating an image. However, think carefully about what you see in the frame for your shot. Often you can see these simple elements in your subject. Try to simplify your shot so that you see only one, two, or at most three of those elements. If you manage to get the image to remain simple, you will make the shot more understandable. If you also manage, through that simplicity, to capture the readers eye, you will excite the viewer. Simple components, simple connections, simple insight to a subject – all these give you effective abstract material.

Study the Elements of Art, at length. Try to see the simplicity within your frame. That is the key to developing your insight into abstraction.

Other techniques…

To help you shoot a few abstracts I have put a list of things you can try below. Try one, or a few at a time. Compare them to some of the examples in the links below the list. Reduce or remove clutter. Keep your shot as simple as possible.

  • Look for patterns – especially very close up.
  • Textures – show the ‘feel’ of surfaces and faces of an object.
  • Try unusual or unique angles.
  • Use a macro lens, macro tubes, or get really close.
  • Crop very tight to an interesting/unrecognisable part.
  • Concentrate on multiple colour variations without showing the whole object.
  • Concentrate on tonal variation – minimise colours.
  • Use long, low light exposure to bring out subtle shadow variations.
  • Use soft or hard light variations on close-ups.
  • Emphasis the ‘shape’ (2d) of an object – keep it from being recognised.
  • Exaggerate the ‘form’ (3d) of something – keep it from being recognised.
  • Concentrate on curves and rounded shapes or forms.
  • Concentrate on angular and geometric shapes or forms.

Many of these can be applied to everyday objects or common items. Once you become aware of the shapes, forms, patterns and textures in the things around you a new world opens up. So try to take one of the above and spend a few days looking at everything around you for ways to see that item. Then move on to others. Before long you will be an abstract photographer!

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.