Thursday, 27 January 2011

Part 1 The Frame; Project: Dividing the Frame

Exercise: Balance
Objective: To be able to identify the dominant parts of some of my recent images and interpret how this may be used to establish whether the image is balanced or not. I have read a lot from "The Photographers Eye" to try to come to terms with the concepts of balance and dynamic tension. I have made some notes which I think are relevant, for each image I have analysed.
Image 1

I have identified the two dominant objects. Both are centrally located, grouped around the centre line of the image, they appear to balance. The diagonals of the tree line (right), the kerb side and road markings lead the eye to the right giving some dynamic tension to an otherwise statically balanced composition.

Image 2
There is only one dominant object here which is off centre and that results in tension. The horizontal banding, blur  and the drivers eyline reinforce the movement right giving dynamic balance. 

Image 3

This was more difficult, looking at a single object that virtually fills the frame. It seems to be placed with equal bulk either side of the centre line. However, the upward curve  and the strong diagonal point to  the top right hand corner introducing tension giving dynamic balance.

Image 4
This was the simplest to analyse being a single object which has dynamic balance with the empty space and  the shadow line to the right. See exercise notes: Here

Image 5
The dominant feature (the village) and the cultivated fields (contrasting colour) suggest static balance but the lines of the field boundaries and wooded slopes introduce tension, moving your eye from the dominant spire  diagonally to the top left.

Image 6

Static balance is achieved by the silver birch tree and the sunlit wall to the right. Although the building dominates the frame, it is not central. Horizontal shadows provide a base and strong verticals suggest rigity.

I have looked at he three examples given in the course notes and decided they are balanced as follows:

On Sussex Downs: The dominant features are the track and the beech hanger on the horizon, the one leads the eye to the other giving dynamic balance.
Farmyard: Symmetrical balance is achieved between the buildings on the left and the tree and silo on the right.
Quintin Hogg QC: There is dynamic balance here. The seated figure dominates and my eye is constantly drawn to the face. However, the hat below the paler wall to the right keeps attracting my eye but  it immediately returns to the figure.

What have I learned? This was not an easy exercise. There are many factors which can effect the balance of an image, the placement of objects, the flow of lines, the position of points, the shape and contrast of areas of colour, light and shade. All play their part. As indicated in the exercise notes, simple uncomplicated images are the easiest to analyse. It would have been easy to search my archive for simple images to analyse but I stuck with images I have taken for the previous exercises.

From “The Photographer’s Eye” I have read, learned and made rough notes about the following:

Balance: The resolution of tension – is at the heart of composition “opposing forces that are matched to provide equilibrium and harmony”. Balance is harmony. Resolution = a condition that seems intuitively pleasing. Balance can apply to any of the graphic elements of the picture (see chapter 3). Balance is resolved by looking for the visual centre of gravity of an image using the weighing scale analogy (see examples  above).

There are two kinds of balance; symmetrical or static where everything falls away equally from the centre. Placing objects in the centre creates this. Arranging equal sized objects around the centre has the same effect.  The second kind of balance is dynamic balance where opposing weights or forces that are unequal are arranged around a fulcrum so that they appear balanced. See example above:

Imbalance shifts the view to one area of the image. See examples 2 & 4 above.

Ratios, Harmony and Balance

Natural harmony can be extended to music and visual proportions as well as colours. Successful expression does not always mean harmony, expression can also require tension. The extremes are symmetry and eccentricity. Symmetry must be precise or it appears sloppy.

Bilateral symmetry: boats, buildings.
Balance and gravity. Strong verticals express up /down movement, horizontals provide a firm base. c.f. standing upright on level ground.

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