In Week 2, we learnt about composition. I’d say I have always intuitively applied the general rules of composition – rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, symmetry and negative space – to my photos. However, it has been interesting and insightful to learn that there’s more to composition than I previously thought.
Through research I discovered “depth”, “triangles and diagonals”, “rule of odds”, “left to right rule”, and lastly (though I’ve heard of this before) “the golden ratio”.
Depth is an obvious factor in photography, but I didn’t know it was a rule of composition. The technique includes utilising the foreground in a way that creates further depth to a photo. This is a successful technique because it adds a 3 dimensional feel to 2D image. It shows the viewer where the photo was taken — how much space is between the focus of the photograph and the photographer.
Triangles and diagonals as a compositional rule was something I had not heard of. This technique adds “dynamic tension” which essentially, translates to instability. This is because straight lines e.g. a horizon is stable and straight. However, if you add diagonals and triangles our subconscious mind links this to being lopsided and therefore, unstable. This can be an interesting element to a photograph that would otherwise seem “normal” to the eye.
Rule of odds is a theory that photographs are more appealing when the subjects of the photograph are in odd not even pairs. It is suggested that an even number of subjects in a photo is difficult for us to decipher or focus on. Whereas, odd numbers seem more natural to us and creates a sense of ease. E.g. three arches or 3 people.
The left to right rule is based on the fact that we (at least in our country) read left to right. Hence, everything in a photo with motion should move in that same direction as a way to simplify an image. There are countries that read right to left so this rule would fall through with an international medium.
Lastly, the golden ratio. The golden ratio is based on an actual formula. Someone has done the hard yards for us though and as someone taking a photo we can just use the “pattern” that the golden ratio presents. It’s made up of a number of squares (“Phi grid”) and then a spiral is drawn to connect those squares ("Fibonacci Spiral”). The squares help to position subjects and the spiral gives us an idea of how the photo should flow. It’s said this rule has been used for over 2,400 years and it was particularly famous in Renaissance Art.
I struggled when we were asked to take photographs outside. I found it quite hard to get creative as I find the space outside of uni so ugly. I think that’s simply because I lean towards more minimalistic styles and that space outside uni has no negative space (except the sky). But, after researching more composition rules I’m excited to apply them and experiment with future activities.
I enjoyed this experiment with black and white photography. I’d like to learn more about the settings this week as I found the photos came out slightly grainy, and even though I like this look… I’d like to know how to do it purposefully. I’m excited to explore more locations for taking photos and get outside my comfort zone.