RANDY JAY BRAUN: Camera Artistry

Randy visited us in 2012 offering a great class on composition and design. Here are some notes from that day …


Seven Principles and Seven Elements of a Great Landscape Photograph

There are seven principles of design: Contrast, Emphasis, Balance, Unity, Pattern, Movement, and Rhythm

  1. Contrast: Not referring to shades of dark to light which photographers are used to. Contrast should exist between elements of a photograph in such a way that they are combined. Contrasts can be shapes, colors, textures, or even ideologies. Example: a rock and a tree side by side.
  2. Emphasis: When one element, or group of elements in the image has greater emphasis than others
  3. Balance: An overall pattern of elements in your photograph than compliment one another harmoniously
  4. Unity: When one element unites with the next element and makes it whole. Example: Low clouds resting on a mountain top
  5. Pattern: Easily found and used. Example: Cracked mud on the desert ground. The human eye picks up on patterns easily. Furthermore, a broken or interrupted pattern is on of the “holly grails” of photography
  6. Movement: Suggest some movement with motion blur. Implied motion. Or, alternatively, freeze something in the air. A water drop about ready to go “blop”. Create motion in camera or computer.
  7. Rhythm: Like a pattern, but it has a certain beat or flow. Rhythm is a challenge to find and place in photos.

There are seven elements to design which help each principle work. While the seven principles might seam unfamiliar to you as a photographer, the seven elements of design should sound quite familiar. They are:

  1. Color: Powerful enough to lead the viewer’s eye around the image and evoke an emotion
  2. Value: The lightness or darkness of a particular color (do not confuse with hue). This will be handled in most cases on the computer
  3. Texture: It is everywhere. The direction and quality of light can make a texture jump off the page!
  4. Shape: Refers to your main subject being an element with attractive or intriguing shape
  5. Form: The organization of different shapes so that they look pleasing, or contrasting as a group.
  6. Space: Use “empty space” to give the viewer’s eye an emotional rest, or a comfort area. If a photo looks too “busy”, there is not enough “space”
  7. Line: Lines define the direction of your photograph. The eyes will grab on and follow lines. Use them wisely because they can hurt an image as well.

As you set up your shot, remember that Landscape Photography is not about “Composition” (Rule of Thirds), but rather is about powerful “Design Principles”

Have fun and let creativity flow naturally. Keep these principles and elements on design in mind, but never try to force your art to meat all these criteria.

-Randy Jay Braun
Based on a lecture by Moose Peterson, 2010

(Click on the link below to download a PDF of this great guide !)

Randy J.Braun on Landscape Photography

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