Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

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Exercise – Rhythm and pattern


Produce at least two images, demonstrating (1) rhythm and (2) pattern.


Canon EOS 650D with EF 18-200mm f/3.5 lens.


As the brief said at least two, I thought it would be fine to do two of each. This was partly as I saw lots of different examples, and to be honest partly as I felt in some cases I wasn’t sure how well the image met the brief! In one case, the distinction between rhythm and pattern wasn’t clear, and could come down to individual interpretation. In another, I just wasn’t sure if there were enough to call a pattern…

Rhythm 1: tiles

I thought two aspects lent this image a sense of rhythm and movement: first, the undulating shape of the tiles, each one overlapping the next, like little waves; secondly, they eye is drawn across and down towards the skylight that is on the periphery and serves to break the rhythm, and so emphasising its existence.

Rhythm: tiles

Rhythm: tiles

Rhythm 2: wicker

I originally shot this for ‘pattern’. but on reviewing it I decided that the diagonal angle I had chosen made the image carry the eye across and down, again providing a sense of movement and an ‘optical beat’. So I recategorised this as ‘rhythm’.

Rhythm: wicker

Rhythm: wicker

Pattern 1: grate

In this I saw a couple of patterns: the regular repeating of the alternating horizontal and vertical lines, and the more spaced-out but equally regular lifting holes. At a push you could say there’s a third pattern, more irregular this time, of the gravel trapped between the lines.

Pattern: grate

Pattern: grate

Pattern 2: daisies

I found various examples of man-made patterns, but was keen on finding a natural example too. The most interesting one that crossed my lens was this collection of giant daisies. However, I’m on the fence as to whether there are enough similar items to constitute a ‘pattern’ as such; I’m not sure it’s enough quantity to imply continuation beyond the visible frame. Hence I included it here as my alternative choice.

Pattern: daisies

Pattern: daisies

What I’ve learned:

I’ve come to appreciate the involving, almost hypnotic effect of an effective pattern image. I’ve also learned that there are instances when you can shoot a pattern in such a way that guides the eye and implies movement, especially when combined with real or implied diagonal lines. Such images have a kind of ‘musicality’ that is pleasing to the eye. I’ve also learned that the line between rhythm and pattern, though straightforward in definition, can in reality be a little blurry.