Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pondering the elements of design

I came across three photos I took of this lighthouse on the St. Lawrence river (near Tadoussac in Quebec, Canada), while we were on a whale-watching/fjord boat trip last year. Each one placed the central design element (the lighthouse) differently within the frame:

The lighthouse is centered, small and distant

The lighthouse is centered, larger and closer

The lighthouse is still larger and closer, but now off-center

How do these different types of placement affect the response to the photo? I generally like the main design element to be large, close, and centered (as in the second photo), but in this case, I didn't. The second photo is fine, but looks too much like a stock picture or a postcard. The first photo, while not providing as much visual punch, gives me a sense of the lighthouse being lonely and isolated, which seems appropriate as a theme. In the third photo, I get a sense of movement and energy that I don't get in either of the other two -- I should remember that an off-centered design element can be very engaging. Which one do you like best, and why?
Addendum: I hadn't thought of it, but someone pointed out that the horizon line also differs in these pictures -- the third has horizon line more horizontal and the line of the hills is just below the largest part of the lighthouse, which is part of why it is so pleasing.

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