Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Balance

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Brief:

Take six already-taken photographs and identify how the balance works in each one. Identify the dominant parts in each image, and sketch a ‘weighing scale’ diagram to depict the balance. Consider how easy or difficult you found it to identify the balance in different images.

Results:

1. Chimes: this is an obvious example of symmetry on multiple axes.

Chimes

Chimes

.

2. Gull: this is an example of static balance with symmetry on one axis:

Gull

Gull

.

3. Hay: a more interesting balance here, with the smaller bales further towards the top and right balancing the dominant one bottom left.

Hay

Hay

.

4. Roof: a similar balance of large / close to centre and small / further away from centre.

Roof

Roof

.

5. Trees: again a juxtaposition of large / close to centre and small / far away, this time more obvious as it is the same object in both cases.

Trees

Trees

.

6. Train: slightly less obvious than the others; I see the train as a sharp triangle shape dominating the left-hand side of the image, with the man at the end of the platform providing the counterbalance.

Train

Train

.

What I’ve learned:

I found it very easy with photos 1 and 2 to identify the balance, as they are both use symmetry in quite obvious ways. The others, less so; I needed to get my eyes (and my brain) into the zone of identifying the dominant items in pictures and looking for how in or out of balance they were. I was dismayed (but not surprised!) that a great many of my old photos aren’t really balanced at all – I selected this half-dozen as the stand-out examples of when I’d managed to achieve a reasonable balance.

This has been something of a revelation to me; one of the things I said I wanted to get out of the course was an understanding of why I find some images engaging and others not (or why some are very visually arresting / disorienting, and why some seem particularly calming and serene, and so on). I’m beginning to appreciate that part of this instinctive response is driven by the balance (or lack thereof) in the image.

An interesting exercise!

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