Not too long ago I did an exercise that was designed to help "see your style." More so, it was designed to help the person doing the exercise see specifics that they are attracted to design-wise. The exercise started by having you rip pages out of magazines that you were drawn to (a good way to get rid of clutter, by the way ). You were not suppose to think about why you liked the page, just rip it out if you liked it and skip it if it didn't grab your attention.
After ripping out a stack of pages you were to hang them up on a design wall (some of us just used the floor, ehem ) and weed out the ones that you weren't really excited about after all. In the pages that were left I started to see definite similarities and, it told me a few things as to why I am attracted to certain images and photography styles.
This is what I learned:
Well, the b&w and candid images were not surprising to me, but the attraction to elements that only showed half was very prominent in the pages that I tore out and so were the bold fonts. As for the lines . . . It was very apparent in my pages that I LOVE lines and until now I hadn't really noticed just how much they play a part in my photography.
There are both visible and invisible lines that lead our eye through a photograph. Photographers can use these lines (and manipulate these lines) in order for the viewer to see what he wants them to see, or feel what she wants them to feel.
This first image was taken in Yellowstone and is a really good example of how lines play a big part in adding interest. The curving road leads our eye directly into the mountain scene. There are lines from the surface of each mountain leading from one to the other so that you eventually see all three. An interesting point here, is that the curve of the road also creates a calming effect that a straight road leading into the scene would not have.
This second image is of our mama mallard who waddled off with her babies on Sunday. (She nested literally 6 ft from the front door! It was awesome watching the whole process ). You might be thinking, "There are no lines here besides the trellis." Oh, but there are. . . The most prominent element in the picture is mama duck, more specifically her eye. The line that goes through her eye is extended by her beak, which then leads to the ducklings. Going further, those babies are looking at something that we can not see and we wonder what it might be. Mama is also looking at something, but we don't really think about that because her beak leads us straight to the babies distracting us from that train of thought. Do you see what I mean? One more step . . . those babies are actually the only reason I noticed the duckling at the top . . . who just happens to be pointing straight at mom again. It's a beautiful little "cirrrrcle of liiiiife." ;O)
This last one is one of my favorites. Yes, they are all in a line and that "line" is going to walk right out of the picture. Where are they going? Are they walking towards something or away from something? The story is the first thing I thought about when I saw this image, but my favorite thing about it are the lines in the pavement. First of all, there is one straight line that goes from the left side of the image straight through to the other side and it's lined up parallel with those ducks. It's the least noticeable of the lines, but we now have it in our head that these ducks will walk straight off the page rather than angling towards the top or bottom. As for the pavement lines in general. . . the lines lead outside the image - just like the intention of the ducks. They are not straight lines, they are meandering - echoing the round about path that this family took. They are not harsh lines - they are soft like the feel that we associate with these ducks. And . . . the main line leads directly to mama duck making sure that you know she is there, too when our tendency is to only focus on the babies waddling after her. Did I plan this picture with these lines? No. But, by noticing details like this after the fact, we are more likely to see these sorts of things when taking pictures in the future and will be able to manipulate them in our images. I took about a dozen pictures that look just like this one except that the pavement was different in each one as she crossed the parking lot. This image was the only one without bold straight lines (or no lines at all) and it was by far my favorite.
Ok, I got a little long winded there so, enough about lines . . . here are some more pictures of mama duck taking her babies out to see the world. :O)
To see how other's in the blog circle use lines in their images, you can start with Kim at See Spot Run Photography in Charlotte NC.
A big thank you to our veterans and their families on this Memorial Day weekend.