photos: © Eva Polak. All rights reserved.
Creating good composition in your photography does not have to be done by guesswork. It can easily be studied, practised and improved. By arranging the elements of a photograph carefully you will influence and control how your audience will view your images. This will help you to communicate more effectively through your images. With a well-composed image, you can create a sense of excitement or produce a feeling of calm.
Today we explore how to use eye movement to create a good composition.
Movement is one of the principles of visual design used to create the look and feeling of action. By creating movement in your images, you are guiding the viewers and leading them to the focal point. Without movement, your images can become stagnant and lack visual excitement.
By arranging the composition elements in a certain way, you control and guide the movement of the viewer’s eyes in and around your composition. This gives you more control over how the viewer will interact with your compositions. Lines, shapes, and colours can all be used to guide the viewer from one point to the next. The play of light, perspective and focus can also be use to achieve that.
For example, the eye has no trouble in being guided by lines which work like roads in an image. We see them as having direction, so the eye naturally follows a line to see what and where it is leading to. A line can easily draw you to a particular point of interest within the frame.
The angle of the line also plays a part. Diagonal lines are very dynamic. They naturally tend to grab our attention as our eyes enjoy travelling back and forth along them.
Curved lines are commonly used to produce a feeling of flow within an image. S-curve is a graceful and soft line that leads the eye through the composition in a peaceful and quiet manner.
We can’t forget about implied lines. Implied lines are lines which don’t actually exist, but can be imagined by the viewer. The gaze of a person is a very good example of an implied line. They can also be made by the way objects are placed within the composition.
We can also create lines in a composition by using contrasting light. Our eye will always go to the brightest part of the image first. Use this to your advantage when composing your image by placing your subject in the bright areas, and avoid including light spots that might distract the viewer from the main subject.
Additionally, lines can be created by colour. Saturated colours usually attract more attention than unsaturated ones. Pay attention to colours in the scene in front of you when composing an image. Make sure you place them strategically so you can guide the viewer’s eye through your photo.
A repeating pattern, regardless how simple or complex, can also create movement in an image. The accent of the repeating elements of a pattern helps the viewer’s eye travel through the composition, giving a flow and rhythm to the photograph.
Optical sharpness also leads the eye. If you have a large area of the image that is not sharp the eye will naturally move from there towards the sharp elements. Selective focus is probably the most obvious technique to lead the eye. If your intention is to make the eye travel across the frame, the soft focus area needs to be much larger than the sharp, and if progression from blurred to sharp is continuous, the leading effect is more visible.
Experiment with different lines, shapes, patterns and perspective to see how they influence the rhythm and flow of your images.
The more you pay attention to the principles of visual design, the easier they become. Composition, after a while, will become something that you do effortlessly and naturally.
principle of movement by Eva Polak
All text & photos: © Eva Polak. All rights reserved.