Diagonal Method in Fine Art Nude Photography

Diagonal Composition

What is diagonal composition?

It is a color photograph bringing out the details of an interior. A good example is where the majority of Wall’s images are displayed in a light box. Diagonal composition represents a well-balanced for dynamically intersecting parallel and diagonal lines. This is a results of viewing and framing an object from a particular angle.

History of diagonal composition

It is important to note that diagonal composition is not a contrived theory but is a discovery. Diagonal method (DM) was accidentally discovered in May 2006 by Edwin Westhoff who was a Dutch photographer and teacher. This beautiful accident occurred when he was doing research on the composition known as ‘rule of thirds’. Therefore, the diagonal composition is not derived from the Golden section of Rule of thirds.

This method of composition is very simple in application; when using it, you can bisect each 90 degree corner of the frame thereby giving you two 45 degree angles. The dividing line is called a bisection line. Most artists will often place the important details in their frames on these lines of with a deviation of 1-1.5 millimeters. This method is called diagonal composition since the lines are mathematical and they overlap the squares in the rectangles. By following the bisection lines, viewers will tend to look at the pictures just as the artist did when capturing it.

It is possible to crop the photos later in such a way that the important details are placed near to the diagonal lines. This can be easily achieved by using the crop tool called ‘Diagonal’ in Adobe Light-room or Adobe Photoshop CS6. Most people say that by using the Diagonal Composition their photography work has become a lot better. This doesn’t apply only to the composition but also to how easy the viewer immediately grasps the important parts of the picture.

Basic Steps of Applying the Diagonal Rule

In diagonal method, one side of the frame or picture is divided into two and then each half is divided into three parts. Later, the adjacent side is divided in such a way that the lines connecting the generated points will form a diagonal frame. From the rule, the important elements of the object should lie along these diagonal lines. Linear elements like roads, waterways, fences which are placed diagonally will always appear more dynamic than those which are placed horizontally.

There are 3 types of lines in the Diagonal method:

·      The horizontal line

·      The vertical line

·      The diagonal line

The above lines have their degrees of intensity. Let us address each of them:

1.    The Horizontal Line

This is the least dynamic line of the three and has the least intensity. This is simply because it is stable and secure. Naturally, the horizontal line is flat. For example, anything in nature which is in a horizontal position, like a tree trunk lying flat on the ground, is usually unshakable or solid. It won’t go anywhere.

2.    The Vertical Line

Unlike the horizontal line, the vertical line is less secure hence more dynamic. Picture a tree which is just about to topple over. This line goes up straight and down – this makes it less balanced.

3.    The Diagonal Line

Of the three lines, this is the most dynamic. Anything in nature which is in a diagonal position is usually about to topple over.

This leads us to the next topic:

Technical Explanation of Diagonal Method

Take the 35 mm photographic frame which is usually a rectangle with a 2:3 ratio. It is possible to draw two squares which overlap each other from the rectangle. After drawing the squares, you should make your diagonal line from one corner to the next.

The next step will be drawing the reciprocal line through the diagonal line. This line should be perpendicular to the diagonal line – this means it will cut the diagonal at 90 degrees angle. (You now get to know why geometry classes are taught at schools). You will notice that there are four 90 degree angles which will of course add up to 360 degrees. This implies that the important element will be around a circular region at the point of intersection.

There are three types of diagonal lines

In photography there are three different types of diagonal lines:

·      Objects which are placed diagonally

·      Actual diagonal lines

·      Diagonal lines which are created by the view point.

The last type from the list is the one which you will be most conversant with in the field of photography. For instance, instead of shooting the photo of a street in Vegas straight from the face-on point of view, you can shoot it from the side.

What makes the diagonal lines very important to photographers?

A majority of photographers use the diagonal lines so as to guide the eye of the viewer to a certain point in the frame. If you take a diagonal line and point it in the direction with a particular object, the tension which will be created draws the eye to it.

In addition, the diagonal lines created from viewpoint have a diminishing effect on a photo as they create a sense of depth in it.

Photographers will also use diagonal lines in artificial objects like constructions so as to add contrast and dynamic tension.

Diagonal lines will also add the unstable nature in some photos. For instance, when taking shots of buildings, you can always use diagonal lines to bring out the un-stability as most buildings will tend to appear stable in nature.

General Tips for Beginners

·      Always hold your camera at the main object’s level. Take some time before you start taking photos from above or below objects.

·      The main source of light should always be behind you and not between you and the object.

·      When taking a picture of a light object use a dark background and vice versa. This will reduce the flare effect on the picture.

·      Don’t be afraid of breaking photography rules.

·      In moving objects, always capture them in such a way that a lot of space is in front of them rather than behind them.

Exercise

As you go through this day, be it at work or at home, look for examples of the diagonal method in everyday life. Be able to identify its presents in your worldview and as you do you will begin to train your eye to compose more compelling photos. Get in the habit of seeing things as if you were looking in the viewfinder of your camera. If you can do this at lease one day a week for an hour of so you skills will improve and you will become a better artist.

Example

This is a powerful example of the diagonal method. In this photo of models Zinn Star and Ellen Marisa there are many lines and angles for you eye to explore however the most dominant lines fall within the diagonal method. The first and most striking line is that of model Ellen Marisa’s body. This line starts at her shoulder, which features her hand over Zinn Star’s hand. This line runs down her body through her nipple and continues to the bottom right corner of the frame. The second most prominent line is the line that travels along Zinn Star’s sight line. The line starts at Ellen’s extended leg and runs through Zinn’s ear and continues to the top left corner of the frame. 

Organic nude in New Mexico

Good morning everyone,

I am happy to have a little time to finish our discussion on Shannon Purdy’s first shoot in the mountains of New Mexico. In this last photo we will cover a few different elements of composition present.  

Principals of composition: The first element of composition I would like to talk about is the strong presents of the diagonal rule. As you can see by my overlay, Shannon’s figure as well as the tree to the right of the frame both follow the diagonal lines and are located on the thirds of the divided frame.

would also like to point out the second element of composition in this photo. Many of you have already seen it, having read my previous posts; Shannon breasts are located on the left Rule of Thirds line as well as the bottom third line. She has been positioned on a Golden section of the photo giving the viewer a sense of peace in the photo.

The final element I would like to talk about today is the Golden Spiral. My overlay is not exactly prefect but you can see that with a slight shift of the spiral Shannon’s figure makes up the extent of this very strong element of composition. The Golden Spiral is a principal of composition we see in nature all the time. It is very appealing to our eye and draws us into a photo. An example of a Golden Spiral in nature would be a flower with all of the pedals opening in a pattern being displayed very close up. I’m sure at some point you have seen one of these photos and really thought it was a good photo.

Notes of this photo: In your photos try and find creative uses for negative space. As you have seen in this photo I utilized the tree to fill the negative space and due to the angle of the trunk was able to strengthen my composition. This pose is very organic and based on the surrounds it would have made a powerful image without the tree having been there; however, taking a minute to look at our surroundings we can find something that may enhance our photos. It only takes a few seconds and will get you in the habit of being more observant and will improve your photography skills in the long run.

Thanks for reading everyone. Sorry my posts have been off a little later than I have wanted lately. We have really been working on the "My Nude Year" project. It has been fun but it is also very time consuming. 

 

See you next time and until then,

Figure it out JW Purdy

Diagonal method and "On the Rocks"

This is the second, element of composition, within my photo of Shannon titled "On the Rocks." 

Principals of composition: As seen by the image below several of the implied lines in the image follow the path of a diagonal line. First when composing a photo, horizontal and or vertical lines are boring while a diagonal is interesting to the eye. There have been mathematical studies that indicate a diagonal composition is far more interesting if the lines can intersect at or near points of interest.  You will notice in my example I missed the top diagonal by a few inches however your mind moves the line down into place and therefore saves me this time. The intersection of the two diagonals would be near the junction of Shannon’s torso and upper most leg and leads you through to her face. There is also a strong diagonal starting at the tree on the upper left of the frame that continues to across the frame to through her breasts. In general diagonals add interest to our photos.

Notes on this image: In this example you will notice that the lines overlaid lead the viewer to very interesting points in the frame. Also there are several implied triangles for someone to discover. The interesting points of diagonal lines build interest in your photo.  

I would really appreciate you signing up for my newsletter (http://beta.privy.com/s/fr18tsI). I will be sending out a monthly letter with information not contained on my blog. All my subscribers will receive offers on materials before they are released to the public as well as be included in giveaways for free stuff.

Next week we will be discussing Golden Mean in this photo and how it works. The Golden Mean is a very powerful rule of composition. I received another very interesting question this week and will be addressing it very soon. The questions were regarding shooting nudes outdoors and how to select a location. The writer also asked if it was legal. I will address all of these questions in my reply coming soon.  

Thank you and see you next time,

JW Purdy