Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Contemplative Look at the Principles of Design - Rhythm and Movement

The use of recurring elements to direct the movement of the eye through the photograph.  There are five kinds of rhythm: random, regular, alternating, progressive and flowing.

   These five mourning doves were sheltering in a recent snowstorm.  Puffed up to withstand the cold, they waited patiently for their turn at the feeder.  Doves are shy birds that are easily startled into flight, unlike my chickadees who seem to tolerate my presence.

   Sitting quietly and evenly spaced, they are regular notes along the branch.  Your eye will follow repeating shapes very naturally and the elongated format simply adds to the movement. I've begun to love long, lean formats...the Chinese scroll on its side!  Their peachy brown feathers a warm counter-point to the blue grey surroundings.  The eye will always go to warm colors first.  The light waves from warm colors reach our eyes first which is why stop signs are red!

    Another classic way to direct the eye is with the "S curve".  Again, your eye seems to want to follow an implied line in the landscape.

   This photograph, made in the Western Isles of Scotland, uses the regular rhythm of the fence posts and the subtle curving, linear road to lead your eye into the photograph.

   Soft, undulating curves are restful and sharp, zig-zag lines create a sensation of energy and quick movement.  All are artistic devices that will lift a photograph out of its stasis and energize the experience for the viewer.

   You will become more aware of rhythm and movement if you take the time to study it; not only in your own work but in the work of masters of our craft.  Slowly, over time, it will become instinctual and you will apply it to your work with nary a thought.



foxysue said...

I love the way you tell it! Reminds me of my days at Art School...sigh, happy days, mostly! The image of the doves made me feel all cozy too, I saw the little dip under the last bird as interesting, like a kind of natural container, nestling pouch!

BTW Word verification ~ Worship! This is what our phtography is all about don't you think! x

Patricia Turner said...

Yes! I think that is an excellent word to use...worship! Thank you!

kimmanleyort said...

I love your explanation of rhythm and your examples. Outstanding.

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you, Kim! Reviewing these design principles has been very interesting to me...I taught them for so many years. Now they have a new and provocative meaning for me.