Thursday, September 29, 2011

Learn composition by example: Silhouettes

If you have been following this blog, you may remember a series of short posts about basic composition techniques in the Art-iculations category. These were written for beginners by a beginner (moi). My Flickr friend Rick (word artist), a very accomplished photographer with a brilliant sense of composition, has embarked upon a similar series for the Flickr group Learn Composition by Example, providing far more information and examples than I did. Previous posts on this subject can be found here:
Leading lines
Negative space
The S-curve
Recently, he posted his thoughts on silhouettes as a composition technique, with 19 photographs as illustration of his points (also to be found in his blog), ranging as usual from the most basic to the advanced very subtle and thought provoking uses. For this topic I have picked a shot by my Flickr friend aftab (She did it), which Rick commented on as follows: "As a foreground silhouette can provide context in a scene without distracting from the main subject, so a series of silhouettes can be used to emphasise the visual depth of a scene. The trick here is that the eye sees light rather than dark. As such, the gaps are not seen, only inferred (you don't see the lack of information). This evening scene is naturally beautiful. The range of tones in both sky and water are so very peaceful. The addition - or, visually, subtraction - of the silhouetted pillars give context to the water's surface, very clearly showing just how fast it recedes into the distance. While the colours are nice, without the silhouetted structure, the depth would at best be guessed at. And, the eye never stops on the silhouettes themselves… they are the absence of information, so - while seen in the larger context - they are skipped over in the details." Like the others in this series, highly recommended to expand your compositional horizon.

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