An update on Photography 101

I’ve been working my way through Level 2 of the Arcanum online photography course, focusing especially on mastering the fundamentals of shooting good landscapes.  Since there might be a bit of a hiatus in blog posts for the next couple of weeks, I thought I would share some of my latest landscape efforts with readers.

Our most recent challenge is to capture your attention by utilizing certain devices to lure you in:  specifically — color, value (contrast), symmetry or asymmetry, balance or imbalance, perspective, leading lines, drama, energy, calm, clarity or simplicity — as elements of good composition.

To make this presentation a little more interesting, I’ll let you decide which of those devices I am utilizing in the following photos.  Brief definitions might help you decide what it is that is drawing your eyes to the photo.

  • A spot of color in an otherwise bland image immediately draws your eye there, but we also gravitate to images showing a variety of rich, deep colors.
  • The brightness and/or variety of color intensities gives an image its color value — think what it would look like in black and white to emphasize stark contrasts between the various shades of color.
  • Because we humans love order, we appreciate symmetrical forms in a photo, but sometimes things that are just off kilter, or asymmetrical, are intriguing because they defy order.
  • We find a balance of subjects in a photo if they share the space and complement each other in some way.  Often this is best done by placing them on either side of the center, one in front of the other, offset in some way.  But sometimes, it is the imbalance of a subject in a photo that makes it intriguing and causes you to stare at it longer.
  • Leading lines come from a corner and take your eye through the image to some other point of interest.  Where that point lies in the far distance gives us a sense of perspective.
  • Drama and energy might be conveyed by highly contrasting warm or cool colors or shapes or motion, or implied motion — intended to make the viewer feel a bit agitated.  In contrast, calm scenes project still subjects, in cool colors, and lack implied or actual activity and give us a sense of serenity or peace.
  • Simplicity — is simple.

NOTE:  there may be more than one right answer!

balance-park bench couple at sunset

The beach at sunset:  Is it Symmetry, Balance, Perspective, or Energy?

cle of rocks Pinnacles trail-

The Pinnacles rock formations:  Is it Symmetry, Balance, Value, or Perspective?

drama-thunderstrom prelude

Thunderheads over the lake before a big storm:  Which term best describes this one?

balance-syrphid flies on peony pollen

Hoverflies feeding on peony pollen:  What terms best describe this one?

4 thoughts on “An update on Photography 101

  1. Your questions seem very much like a pop quiz, Sue. I know which images I like most, but I am not always sure how they fit into the categories you provide. For example, I really like the third image because of the way you allowed the clouds to dominate the photo by placing the horizon so low in the frame and the final image draws me in with the hoverflies in opposite corners and the bold patterns of their abdomens against the backdrop of the various shades of pink.

    • You’re right — I didn’t give you any definitions of what the terms implied with respect to composition. I’ll add that above. Thanks for the feedback.

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