Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Eva Spring's Library) by David duChemin

Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Eva Spring's Library) by David duChemin

Author:David duChemin
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: New Riders
Published: 2012-11-10T16:00:00+00:00

Nikon D3s, 14mm, 1/40 @ f/7.1, ISO 400

Pensacola, Florida, USA, 2011.

In the first image, the static balance is most easily identified by placing an imaginary fulcrum through the middle of the image. In the second image, which is dynamically balanced, the fulcrum needs to come much further to the right, just past a third, giving us further hints about the way the rule of thirds serves our sense of balance if we let it—and if we do so with flexibility.

This is a great example of how our decisions interact with the elements in a scene. It’s also a good example of how the flattening effect of the photograph will change the reality of the image. In real life, those three stones are the same size. In the second photograph, they become three differently sized rocks that all interact with both the frame and the reader, according to how they behave as graphic elements, not rocks. The reader’s mind is likely to know that the three rocks are all the same size, that the foreshortening effect of perspective is just an illusion. But the eye will read it as it is in the image, and move to that apparently larger stone first. Because the eye goes there first, that stone has greater mass and will affect the way you choose to balance, or imbalance, your photograph.

Balance isn’t easy to teach; I suspect it’s something you come about internally as you begin to understand, and get a sense for, visual mass. One of the ways I look at balance in an image is to look at the elements and ask myself, of a possible 100 percent within the image, how much pull does each element exert? It’s approximate, but if I can give myself some loose values for each significant element, I can also get a sense of whether they balance out in the frame. The point isn’t the math; the point is looking critically and mindfully, and recognizing that if one element has significant pull then it needs to be balanced by something else, even negative space. Another trick—and a good exercise once in a while—is to flip the image horizontally in Aperture, Lightroom, or Photoshop. Looking at it flipped can force us to see the relationship of elements to the frame in a new way. Although it will read differently because we shot it assuming the reader would see it as we do, from left to right, the balance will either be there or it won’t.

Negative space is space within an image that is not our immediate subject matter. Its use allows images to breathe and to balance. Having space that is not the subject matter creates a contrast and directs the eye to the thing you want it to see. Negative space has very low visual mass, but it has enough that an element of interest placed, for example, near one of the thirds of the frame will balance out against the two-thirds of the frame now occupied by the negative space.


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