Elements of Composition

There is a lot to like about this photo by Marc Dessenis, but I specifically wanted to take a moment to talk about the composition choices that are going on here. Specifically, notice how your eye lands almost exactly in the middle of the photograph. This is not an accident, if you think about it. Let’s break it down. The first thing to note about this photograph is the balance of busy and negative space. Specifically, note how jarring the light on the left side of the photo is. It almost forces you to look away from it. However, on the right side of the photo, there is a lot of negative space, so your eye doesn’t want to go there, either. It is only natural that your eye should fall right in the middle, on the buildings. This is enhanced by the focal line of the railing, beginning at the bottom of the photograph and extending right to the middle, where your eye wants to rest. These three elements – the light, the negative space, and the focal line, work in tandem to tell you how to observe the photograph, without you even realizing it! Pretty neat, huh?

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