The dock in the pond at the base of Idaho's Bruneau Dunes creates the type of diagonal line we talk about in the column; leading the eye into the image.
The dock in the pond at the base of Idaho's Bruneau Dunes creates the type of diagonal line we talk about in the column; leading the eye into the image.

Continuing our chat about composition, let’s review a bit from last week. Putting the horizon line in the center of a landscape has a tendency to cut the image in half, where the two parts do not necessarily create a more harmonious whole.

When you are standing or crouching in position you have to make a decision which half is stronger — which part will become the dominant two thirds of the photo. A bland, blank sky is rarely, if ever interesting, and should not usually be the dominant part of a photo. Look at the foreground, or the ground in front of you to see if there is something that would make a good “entry” into the image.
The Rule of Thirds is merely a guideline and not a “written-in-stone” rule. If we all followed the rules rigidly, think how boring photography would be. But it is a good place to start when one is just beginning to see aesthetically.

IMAGES CAN BE GRAPHICALLY INTERESTING, SCENICALLY INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES BOTH

An image that is interesting graphically has strong lines and textures. You are very aware of the two-dimensional space; the shot can have an abstract quality.

In a scenic landscape, the more powerful image will have not only textures but leading lines taking one into the image. For example, a photo of a mountain and lake is made more interesting by the inclusion of a foreground item, like a rock or boat dock — something that grabs your attention and leads the eye further into the image. You are aware of three dimensions in the image: Foreground, middle ground and background. All three work together to make a balanced whole.

Setting your subject matter on an invisible diagonal line almost always creates a more dynamic photo whether it be the boat dock we mentioned in the accompanying photo or the line formed by a group of flowers.

A good image invites you in, to explore the landscape visually, perhaps to learn something new each time you see it. The viewer makes a journey to see what you saw, what compelled you to make the image. That, at least is our goal.

“A photograph is usually looked at — seldom looked into.”

— Ansel Adams

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