Tag Archives: Slide show

Simple ‘Principles’ of photographic composition

Photographic composition happens on two levels.

First you should work to understand the scene at the basic level – the ‘elements’ that catch the eye and draw the viewer in. Then you should think about how to construct the overall composition. A photograph is all about the impact you create in your viewers mind. Composition is about constructing that impact.

The principles of art, design and photography

In Easy introduction to ‘visual elements’ in photographs we examined the elements of a photograph. The visual elements in a scene are the components that enable us to distinguish objects from one-another. They are the patterns we see from which we make sense of the world.

Organising the visual elements into a coherent photograph requires a higher level of composition. This is the layer of design. It is the layer that artists, including photographers, use to create an overall composition. One that lies above the native elements of the scene.

These principles pull together the elements in the scene. There are eleven of the “Principles”. However, some are so intimately mixed that people sometimes combine them. They are all in there however, they are presented. Here they are:

  • Balance: The state of creating visual equilibrium between elements in the picture.
  • Contrast: Conditions within the picture that emphasize differences, conflicts, opposition, between the elements.
  • Emphasis: The establishment of a focal point, or centre of dominance in a picture.
  • Variety: The visual interest that draws a number of different elements together.
  • Unity: The concept behind the picture, the comprehensiveness of the scene, the oneness of the message.
  • Harmony: Overall visual continuity achieving the unity in the theme; the wholeness of the elements; simplicity; uncluttered; conditions that emphasize similarity, peace and flow.
  • Proportion: Controls the size relationships of the different elements or components in the scene.
  • Rhythm: The use of visual elements to induce regular movement, a visual repetition or tempo.
  • Movement: Can be either a combination of elements to depict action/movement; or a dynamic design to draw the eye through the picture.
  • Pattern: The repeating of one type of element to create a picture (or form a major part of one).
  • Repetition: A combination of elements used many times to create a harmonious whole.

More after this…

Examples – a slide show!

It is difficult to take these principles out of context and understand them straight away. Here is a short slide show by Chandler Studio Art. The examples pull the concepts together. However, you should remember the ideas from the post on Easy introduction to ‘visual elements’. Because the ‘Principles’ pull them together. The author revises the elements in the beginning and asks you to remember them again at the end, before summarising the Principles.

Click the bottom arrows to move back or forward on the slides. Use the four arrow symbol (Right end) to expand the slide to full screen size.

 

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’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Easy introduction to ‘visual elements’ in photographs

Look into your photograph, go deeper than it’s content.

Examine the composition of your image. Go beyond it’s immediate pictorial display. Look into the basic structure and you will be able to break your picture down into its component parts. Understanding individual “Visual Elements” in an image can help you to capture the eye of the viewer. It’s these elements that make the eye work to absorb the content of an image.

Visual elements shown in a slide show.

Image taken from the slide show below shows how the visual elements work.

What are the ‘Visual Elements’?

We make sense of the world by building a picture of it in our heads. We recognise objects in our environment because our eye/brain system is able to see and analyse the edges, contrasts, light/shadow/dark, colours and perspectives we see on and between them. Our ability to analyse these patterns gives us an understanding of the world we see.

To make an image, photographers look for strong visual elements through the lens. Then we strive to use them for the picture. A great deal of the creative work in photography is to remove content that doesn’t contribute to the point of an image. So we seek a point of view that isolates what we want to show.

Having isolated distractions the next job is to ‘see’ the subject in the ‘best possible light’. This English idiom is not just waffle (especially for photogs). It is really about using the edges, contrasts, light/shadow/dark, colours and perspectives mentioned above. Finding ways to use these effectively is what will draw the eye in our images.

The Elements of Art

My list of things we physically see is not detailed. It turns out that we can pin-point specific ‘visual elements’ in a photograph. Research in art has isolated these visual elements. They are called, by artists, “The Elements of Art”. There are seven of them…

  • Line (The path of a point, or implied path of a point, through space or over a surface.)
  • Shape (A two dimensional enclosure created by a single line – may be geometric or freeform.)
  • Form (A three dimensional object which has a ‘mass’ or ‘weight’; a shape with depth; physical width/height/depth.)
  • Space (Positive space: the subject or dominant object in the picture plane; Negative space: the background area. Space can occupy the outside, inside or surrounds in a depicted object.)
  • Value (The brightness/lightness/darkness/colour intensity.)
  • Colour (Light of particular wavelengths in the visible light spectrum.)
  • Texture (The presence of an apparent surface that would have a touch/feel character of its own.)
  • Examples – a slide show!

    Perhaps, some of my definitions above are difficult to understand. If you can put them into context it will help. Here is a short slide show by Kelly Parker. The examples really show the visual elements well. Click the bottom arrows to move back or forward on the slides.
     

    Download a Presentation Transcript of the slide show.

    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’.
    See also: Profile on Google+.