Golden mean in Fine Art Nude figure study photos

Golden mean (Golden ratio)

Definition: The golden ratio which is also known as the divine proportion, golden mean or golden section is often encountered when taking the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as pentagons, pentagrams, decagons, etc. This is the mathematical definition.

In photography the principle behind the golden mean rule is to provide geometric lines which can be followed when viewing a composition. This rule has been used as a major guideline by many artists and it wouldn’t do you any harm as a modern photographer.

History of Golden Mean

Going back to the 12 century, which was the golden age for mathematics, is the era in which the golden mean was developed or invented. All the credit goes to an Italian gentleman known as Fibonacci. So, how does mathematics and photography relate to each other? The one thing keeping these two as relatives is composition. Fibonacci discovered the Golden ratio or Divine proportion from his mathematical studies. It is kind of weird that the main source of this discovery was the breeding habits of rabbits. What he noted was that the ratio he had discovered with the rabbits was applying in most of the aspects in nature. This ratio is 1.61803:1.

As photographers, when we are shooting pictures our eyes are naturally accustomed to seeing the divine proportion. However, if we break this natural ratio the image will appear uncomfortable to our eyes. Rule of thirds is one of the most common techniques in the world of photography – though it is not entirely a Fibonacci rule. It works in such a manner which is very close to the divine proportion. However, if you wish to take your compositions you can apply the Golden mean rule, Golden Rectangle or Golden Spiral.

The Golden Rectangle

It is very similar to the rule of thirds. The difference between the two is that; in the rule of thirds each third is at an equal distance to each other while in the Golden rectangle Fibonacci ratio is used to determine the distance between them. To expand on this statement, if we split our image into three using vertical lines, the distance of the first line from the left in comparison to the second line will be at a ratio 1.618:1. Therefore, the outer boxes will always be larger than the inner boxes. A better composition would be achieved if we use the intersection points of these rectangles. Practically, this might appear a little complicated but when you are shooting you can simply visualize the image on the regular thirds, then simply move those thirds a little more to the center.

The Golden Spiral

This is a very powerful composition rule but is more complex. It uses the principle of increasing the size of a series of boxes using the Golden ratio. The origin or focal point of the composition begins at the corner of the smallest rectangle. A spiral is usually visualized moving out from the smallest box intersecting through the larger boxes and stops at the corner of the largest box. From the intersecting nature of the spiral intersecting through the rectangles creates an appealing image which gives our eyes an easy time in flowing through the image. As stated, this can be quite hard to visualize while shooting a photo but once you locate the primary object, the rest is just a piece of cake.

The Golden Triangle

This is a very important compositional guideline which comes in handy if your photograph has strong diagonal objects. Here you will only need to split your photo into three triangles which have the same angles. The Golden Triangle is very simple and is most efficient with lines.

One diagonal line will pass across the frame from one corner to the next. Another diagonal line will be created from one of the other two diagonals to intersect with the first diagonal.

What makes the Golden mean better than rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is the most applied rule in photography and it is taken as a manifestation of the Golden Ratio. It is usually claimed that the Rule of Thirds was invented to make it easier for photographers to locate the sweet spot – the eye-catching point.

Even though the rule of thirds works well in most of the situations, the Golden Ratio can offer a better composition. This is simply because it creates a more balanced image.

Take a situation in which you wish to shoot a landscape photo. In most cases, when you use the Rule of Thirds certain elements like the horizon will be left in an awkward position. By simply dividing the frame into thirds will imply that placing the horizon line will be too straight forward. However, with the Golden Ratio the balance will frequently appear more natural and less static.

Composing for the Golden Ratio

The easiest way in which you can compose an image and apply the Golden Spiral is by imagining a small rectangle from one corner of your frame and then bisect it from one corner to another in such a way that an imaginary diagonal line crosses your frame. This line will touch some of the focal points of the Fibonacci Spiral within the rectangle.

You can always perfect your composition by using software such as Adobe Light-room during post processing. This software has a wide range of crop overlays and one of the crops called Golden Spiral is based on the Fibonacci Spiral.

Conclusion

As a photographer it is very important for you to know what makes a photo appealing to the eyes and strong. There are many things which you should have at your fingertips when shooting. Some of them include; color, lighting, shape, composition and more. Therefore, it takes a variety of aspects in creating a fascinating image but if your main concern is just one aspect you can always use the Golden Ratio. Note: There are no strict rules in photography, there are only guidelines to help you become the best photographer. 

Exercise

Go over your portfolio and look for examples of the Golden mean in your current work. In the situation of a very powerful image you have taken that does not appear to follow basic rules of composition you may be surprised to find that it fits into the use of Golden Mean.

Example

In this example Shannon’s head is in the first lower left section. The next section moving up and to the right contains her left breast and is completed by the junction of her thigh and torso. The final section moving in the same direction is filled with Shannon’s thigh, which travels the length of the final section ending at her knee.

Use of negative space in Fine Art Nude Figure Study

Use of Negative Space in Photography

What is negative space?

Negative space refers to the area between or around objects in a photo. It is mainly important if you wish to get a clear visualization of shapes and sizes more effectively hence producing more composed images.

To be more precise, negative space is the area, which surrounds the main object in your photo. On the other hand, the positive space is the main object in your photo. Taking a photo in which the main objects are power lines, the negative space is the sky while the positive space is the power lines.

The negative space is important in a photo since not only defines the main object but also emphasizes it thereby drawing it to the eye. It provides the ‘breathing space’ hence giving your eyes somewhere to rest – this prevents the photo from appearing congested.

How to use the negative space  

Negative space can give your photograph an entirely opposite atmosphere than another photo of the same object. The simple explanation for this is that our brains will always have lots of ideas of how objects appear to our eyes especially in terms of size, shape, color, texture, etc. The bad news is that these ideas alter how we view a scene. Therefore, photos can look better in our minds while in reality they are not that appealing.

By using the negative space in photography we can overcome these problems. How? By ignoring the objects at the scene and focusing on the gaps between and around them. This will enable you to pay more attention to your composition hence seeing the shapes and sizes more clearly.

When you are shooting, you should always adjust your composition until the positive and negative spaces in the frame feel balanced. Don’t be mean on the amount of empty space you will be leaving out. It is not always a good idea to cram in something, which you feel is important to every inch of the photo frame.

You can always use software like Photoshop or Light-room to experiment on different types of crops. You will be amazed how small changes may give a significant change on the appearance of an image.

In addition, the negative space also leaves a very nice area, which can be filled with texts without interfering with the main object.

Importance of Negative Space 

The negative space can change the mood of an image. The mood refers to the emotion and the negative space is what creates them. The negative space can:

·      Act as a context

·      Create a sense of lightness

·      Can create airiness

·      Strengthen the positive emotions in a photograph.

·      Bring out the feelings of your main object – can be romantic or just happy.

·      Also add sad feelings like loneliness or despair.

Therefore, whichever message you wish to send out to your viewers, be it feelings or emotions, whichever story you wish to share, the negative space will play a huge role in this. When used correctly it can emphasize these aspects otherwise, everything can turn around.

In basic drawing classes students are usually told that there are three basic elements of a composition: The Frame, the positive space and negative space.

Of the three elements, the positive space is the easiest to understand since it the space occupied by your object. Contrary to that, the negative space is the one which is not occupied by the main object. I wish it were that easy to understand. The negative space is usually defined by the edges of the positive space and the frame. In other cases, the negative space may be completely bound by the positive space.

As a reminder, composition will always be best if there is a balance between the negative and positive. The frame is the main factor which controls the balance between the positive and negative space. When drawing, the frame is usually represented by the edge of the paper while in a camera it is the edge of the viewfinder. Therefore, the viewfinder is what gives the definition to our composition. Composition is therefore a skilled use of positive and negative spaces interacting with the edges of your work. It has effects which are noticeable by the viewer’s eye. You should know that the main objective of a good composition is to control your viewer’s eye. You want him or her to notice the things which are not straightforward.

Most photographers tend to put more focus on the positive space while the negative space comes just like an afterthought. From what we have discussed above, you will not neglect the negative space while shooting.

Benefits of using negative space in photos

1.     The negative space helps in molding and emphasizing the positive space. Here, you should also know that there are two kinds of negative space – the macro and micro negative spaces. The macro negative space defines the space between major elements while the latter defines space between smaller elements.

2.     It guides the viewer’s eye to where you want it to be. This way you can communicate your message effectively.

3.     It brings out the mood of the photo.

4.     In design, if there is insufficient negative space the photo might appear overcrowded and at times very complex.

How can we create a better negative space?

First, you can always make a better art with the negative space. For instance, the sky can provide a good composition when shooting from the bottom of buildings.

Secondly, you make the negative space the subject and this way you will not distract the main subject.

Third, you can use the positive space to define the negative space. Take a look at the Rubin’s vase to get a clear understanding on this.

Fourth, you can always use negative space to create logo designs.

Conclusion

It is always easy for us to focus on the main subject of the photograph. However, the negative space is a very powerful tool in each photo as it is the one which will bring out the core message of mood of the image.

Exercise

Think of items of interest you can include in your framing of a photo other than the subject that will add to your composition or lead your viewer through the photo. As you practice this make sure that you don’t allow the items in the negative space to become to cluttered, too many objects in your photo will just confuse your audience and muddy your photo composition.  

Example

In the example below I have used the shadow cast by Shannon’s figure to add interest to the negative space. Shannon is indeed the subject of the photo however the silhouette on the wall features her prominent curves and grabs the viewer’s eye. Shannon added emphasis to the shadow by pointing to it as well as looking over her shoulder. The viewer’s eye is lead straight to the negative part of the image.  

Just a quick final item to talk about, I have added a set from our “My Nude Year” project to my store and it is available for download. Your kind purchase makes it possible for me to continue bringing you content on a regular basis. If you enjoy my blog please considered purchasing the set.

Thank you,

JW Purdy

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. 

The Art of Nude episode 2 by JW Purdy

This is the second episode of The Art of Nude. In this episode we will be looking at one of my recent photos of Shannon Purdy from our new My Nude Year project. This is the photo from day 7 and has become very popular during this project. Your comments and questions are greatly appreciated. 

Rule of Thirds in Fine Art Nude photography

Rule of thirds

When it comes to photography, the rule of thirds is applied in such a manner that you will be aligning the subject with the help of guidelines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line or allowing linear features in the image to flow from one section to the other. The rule of thirds is the most popular principle in photography composition. In most photography classes, this is probably the first principle which digital photographers will learn as it forms the base for capturing well-balanced and interesting shots.

What does rule of thirds state?

The rule of thirds states that – An image is most appealing to the eyes when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds (should be both vertically and horizontally).

It is interesting that the rule appears to be mathematical and can still be applied in photographs. Surprisingly, this rule works incredibly well. The rule of thirds makes the shots appear more engaging as it brings out the aesthetic features of the subject by:

·      Creating a sense of balance

·      Doesn’t make the image appear too static

·      Adding a sense of complexity

·      Hinders the image from appearing too busy.

 

Let us review a little history on rule of thirds:

The rule of thirds has been around for a long time and it can be traced back to the 1800’s. During this era, painting was the most popular form of art. The rule of thirds was known as golden mean especially when the Greeks were exploring the world and building extraordinary temples to please their gods.

Components of the Rule of Thirds

Without some certain elements, you will be applying another rule rather than the ‘rule of thirds’. The most important components of rule of thirds include:

  • 9 Equal Boxes
  • 4 Intersecting Points
  • 2 Horizontal Lines
  • 2 Vertical Lines

 

Rule of Thirds and Your Subject

In the rule of thirds, you should always place the important components of your subject or image at intersecting points. Your main objects may be people, buildings, animals and more. By doing so, your image will be well balanced and your viewers will easily move through your image. The rule of thirds is based off a subconscious movement throughout the image or artwork in such a way that the viewer’s eye pauses longer at one of the four intersecting corners rather than at other areas. For instance, the Modern dSLR cameras often show the grid view on the back display of ‘live mode’ camera. In addition, you can activate a similar grid using Adobe Light-room and Adobe Photoshop.

The theory behind rule of thirds is that by placing the points of interest in the intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced and the viewer of the image will engage with it naturally. From previous studies, it was proved that most viewer’s eyes will go to one of the intersection points rather than at the center of the shot. Therefore, when using the rule of thirds, you should always think about the important elements of the picture and try to position them near the lines or intersections. They don’t have to be perfectly aligned but should be close.

Examples of rule of thirds:

The rule of thirds is very flexible and it can be used on almost any object. Here are some good examples of where it can be used and how to apply it:

1.     In landscape photos: In most cases photographers will position the horizon along the center of the frame. This will give the photo a ‘split into two’ feel. Instead you should place it along the horizontal lines. If there are interesting objects in the photo, you should try to place them along the intersecting lines or as close as possible since they will act as anchors from a natural point of view.

2.     When capturing shots of people: It is always smart to place people off to one side of the frame as this shows the subject’s environment and ‘breathing space’. Without any doubt, we are usually drawn to people’s eyes hence they should be placed at the intersection lines of the rule of thirds. This will give the shot a vivid focal point.

3.     Vertical objects: Let us say you want to take a shot on a lighthouse. The best way to go about this is by positioning the object at off-center of your frame.

4.     Moving objects: In moving objects such as a rider on a horse or a biker, it is important to place them as normal as they appear while at the same time paying attention to the direction they are moving. You should always leave more space in front of them rather than behind.

How can we improve our photos?

The best and most efficient way for a beginner to improve the quality of the shots taken is by cropping. By using cropping software, we will be able to reposition the important objects in your photo. Software such as Photoshop and Light-room can come in handy as they have crop guide overlays which include the rule of thirds option. As you get better your need to crop photos in postproduction will decrease. Strive to get as much right in your viewfinder before you push the shutter release on your camera and your ability to see the world in terms of composition will greatly improve as well as the quality of your photos.

Limitations

In very rare cases we will find an image in which we cannot apply rule of thirds. In such cases, we might give the photo a sense of balance without making the subject appear too static.

Breaking the Rule of Thirds

Rules are made to be broken. That’s what they say from where I come from. Just like other rules in photography, the rule of thirds will not apply in all situations. Therefore, by breaking it on some shots might results in a more eye-catching and interesting photo. But you should fully understand the rule of thirds before breaking it. This way you will be certain of what you are doing while trying to get a better composition. Try breaking the rules on some of the photos you have captured using the rule of thirds and compare the two.

Exercise

Plan a day of shooting when you have a little free time, if you have only a little time available just work around you house. Find a subject that you have shot or want to shoot. Now as you start to work keep in mind the Rule of Thirds. If you are working with landscape try placing the horizon on the bottom third, top third and then just in the center of the frame. If you have a specific subject you are working with try moving the camera so that the subject falls on each line as well as intersecting lines of the Rule of Thirds. When you get back to your computer download the images and really take a close look at each one until you narrow the field of photos to one. Finally, ask yourself what makes this the best photo. Now you are not only using the Rule of Thirds but also learning how to apply it in a practical real world situation.

Example

In the photo below you will notice that model Zeva has been placed on the left third of the frame. I also placed the rough building skyline on the top third of the frame creating a stronger composition. With regard to the bottom third being located near Zeva’s bottom and the top of the brick she was sitting on was just luck. As you get better at working with the Rule of Thirds you will find that utilizing two of the dividing lines strengthens you composition like in this example. I did break one Rule of Composition in this photo as Zeva is facing away from the negative space in the photo. I find this personally appealing and think it adds some tension to the otherwise beautiful scene. Some people would completely disagree and tell you that by breaking this rule I ruined an otherwise good photo. As stated above, break the rules while following them to suit your own taste. I would however recommend learning the rules before you start to try and break them.

Please come back next week for another video review and discussion.

JW Purdy

 

New series starts Monday the 23rd

Good night everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that on Monday March 23, 2015 I will be started a new series on composition technique. The series will last four weeks and be posted every other Monday. On the bi weeks I will be posting the video reviews similar to my last post. Your comment and suggestion are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

JW Purdy

Balancing Shannon on the mountain

This is another photo from Shannon’s first shoot in the mountains of New Mexico.

Principals of composition: In this photo we see another example of the Golden mean. You will notice with the lines I have overlaid on the photo that Shannon’s bottom is in the first section of the lower frame ending just at her lower back. The next section contains the majority of Shannon’s mid/lower back and is sectioned off by her right arm and left shoulder. The final portion of the image contains Shannon’s upper back and head.

Notes on this image: Elements you want to appear larger in your photograph should be placed closer to your camera lens. In this example I wanted to show off Shannon’s beautiful backside and therefore it has been placed nearest to the camera lens. This photo was somewhat of a miss due to the low amount of lighting on my subject. The difference in texture is very nice as well as the contrast in shape but the overall lighting makes for a less powerful image.    

We are getting close to the end of the month and I’m working on a couple of different new tasks. I will be sending out my newsletter at the end of the month and encourage you to sign up.

Next week we will be discussing a photo in which Shannon bravely started to scale the coal tailings in the driving wind. I will be discussing the diagonal method as well as contrast in texture and color.

If you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter please take the time to give me a little info about you. You can find my sign up by going here http://beta.privy.com/s/fr18tsI. Spring is almost here and my first giveaway is drawing closer as the days pass.   

Thank you and see you next time,

JW Purdy

The Golden Mean within the photo of Shannon Purdy titled "On the Rocks."

This is the final element of composition I concentrated on within my photo of Shannon titled "On the Rocks." 

Principals of composition: One of the most difficult concepts in visual art is the Golden Mean also called the Golden Ratio.  The Golden Mean has been used in composition for centuries. It is a design principle based on the ratio of 1 to 1.618. The Golden Mean can assist in creating images that have a strong composition, which is perfectly balanced from a viewer’s perspective. Creating a photograph that is most pleasing to the eye using the Golden Mean can be difficult. We naturally prefer to look at an image that is balanced and harmonized, and the Golden Mean does this. The Golden Mean/Ratio is actually a mathematical term and can be broke down into simple lines. If you were to put points on a horizontal line A and B you can better visualize the Golden Mean. If line A was longer than Line B by almost double B you would notice that nearly 2XB would nearly equally segment A. Therefore this would nearly put a vertical line bisecting your original horizontal line on the third of the frame. The balance of this ratio is found in many things in nature. The most prominent is the human body. I believe this is why it is such a pleasing and strong visual queue to viewers when utilized.

Notes on this image: In this example Shannon’s head is in the first lower left section. The next section moving up and to the right contains her left breast and is completed by the junction of her thigh and torso. The final section moving in the same direction is filled with Shannon’s thigh, which travels the length of the final section ending at her knee.   

We are getting close to the end of the month and I’m working on a couple of different new tasks. I will be sending out my newsletter at the end of the month and encourage you to sign up. (http://beta.privy.com/s/fr18tsI).

Next week we will be discussing a new photo. I am trying to get a video together which I hope will demonstrate these concepts a little easier. I’m going to put a few together and see how I do. If they come out okay I will post them online but if not forget I ever said anything about it. I am really going to give it my best so we can cover more ground in one lesson and I can describe the concepts we are working with better. I will also try to film a shoot or two and let everyone see how I work with models and give you a sense for the flow of a shoot.   

Thank you and see you next time,

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

Golden Triangles and "On the Rocks"

I have already made a post on this photo a few weeks ago. The photo is titled “On the rocks.” I thought today we would start to breakdown the elements of composition I have found in this image.

Principals of composition: Golden Triangles – You can see in my overlay of this image that two distinct Golden Triangles are found in this composition. The base of the tree along with the bright reflective rocks on the upper left of the frame lead your eyes to the point of Shannon’s chin. The natural slope of the landscape as well as the tree trunk form a leading line. From the point of Shannon’s chin (a Golden Triangle) we intersect the primary line in the composition. There is an implied line running from Shannon’s chin, between her breasts, down her leg and ending at her knee.  The second Golden Triangle is located near the junction of Shannon’s legs to her torso. You may have noticed that this is also the brightest part of her thigh.

Notes on this image: Your viewer will naturally seek out your models eyes. By using principals of composition in your image and taking a little time to think them out as you compose your framing you can influence your viewer to follow a path through your photo.  Not only does this create a pleasing image it will also give your viewer something to explore as the look at your photo.

I would really appreciate you signing up for my newsletter. 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.

Sorry I miss spoke in last weeks post. I was thinking of this photo when I asked you to all come back for another principal discussion. In this photo we will be covering three elements of composition. Please come back next week and we will discuss diagonals in your composition.

Thank you and see you next time,

JW Purdy

Dark eyes and the Rule of Thirds

One of my favorite photos of model Shannon Purdy’s first shoot is “Dark eyes.” The dark shadows give Shannon the appearance of having black pools for eyes. Our minds naturally seek out a person’s eyes in a photo and with them being so dark it makes our viewers search for any detail that may be discovered. The contrast of Shannon’s nipples slightly darker than the blown out flesh of her body lead the viewers eyes down to the appearance of a line enclosed in shadow between her legs enticing the viewer. Things hidden in shadow or by an object make your viewer try to recreate it in their mind. 

Principals of composition: Using the Rule of Thirds in the photo with Shannon looking into the negative space makes the viewer at peace with the overall composition. The rock shelf Shannon is leaning on rests both on the top and bottom thirds of the image and Shannon is nearly bisected by the right third.

Notes on this image: This photo has a somewhat sinister feel to it. The dark shadows and extreme contrast give Shannon a strange feel. If you ever met her you would know she is the exact opposite of this look. It is always interesting when you can capture someone on film in a pose or featured emotion that is opposite their personality.

I would really appreciate you signing up for my new newsletter. 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.

In this post we covered on element of composition and in the next post we will cover another one present in this photo.

Thank you and see you next time,

JW Purdy

Geisha girl

This week we will be discussing my first shoot with model Little Liz. When I was looking to book models for my first shoot I asked potential applicants to send me a short description of themselves and a creative nude photo. One of the first responses came from Little Liz and was to this day the most creative photo submission I have received from a potential model. I opened my inbox to discover a photo of a very cute brunette with a large tattoo atop of a pink bike taken in her living room, fantastic. I knew from that moment I had to work with her at all costs.

Little Liz has one of the largest tattoos I have ever seen in person. It is a single geisha girl cutting a snake’s head off and it encompasses her whole side. It is extremely detailed and very colorful. During that first shoot I wanted to find a creative way to show off her wonderful work.  In the master bedroom closet of the model home we were working in was a mirrored settee and I took a chance that I could create something with it.

Principals of composition: My main focus was the tattoo but I wanted to feature Liz’s body in the frame as well as her reflection in the mirror. Without intension I placed the tattoo on the left third of the image as seen by the darker red line in the example shown. Liz’s chest and stomach are wonderful elements of foreground interest in this photo and strengthen the overall quality of the composition. Liz’s breast and nipples are near enough the golden section (intersecting points) in the top left third to draw the views eye to the head of the geisha in the tattoo. The changes of color/texture created by the wide array of lines in the tattoo insure the views eye is locked into the image and will explore the detailed present. The soft gentle curves of Liz’s body complement the photo without detracting from the focal point.

Notes on this image: Shoot what you feel will look good. I thought that having both the actual body as well as the mirrored reflection in the photo would look great and the results were far beyond my expectations. Little Liz and I have worked together on a few occasions and she is so much fun to be around. Her personality really shows up in her photos. She is light hearted yet very passionate about her work. She put everything she had into our shoots together. If you ever decide to work with someone and don’t have a lot of information about them or a large body of work to view I would suggest having a few chat sessions with them. If they give you a good feel in the chats work with them however if you just don’t really click give them a pass and move on. A models personality will show up in your images and it is worth taking a little time to find someone you enjoy being around and has similar goals as you.

In my next post we will talk about how my wonderful wife started posing as a figure model. Surprisingly it happened in an unexpected way.

My very first shoot

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you are having a great time for the long weekend if your boss was nice enough to let you off. We celebrate some many different customs at this time. First we bring evergreens into our homes. Evergreens to the Hebrews and Egyptians symbolized eternal life. We give gifts in the name of Saint Nicholas, which provides help to the poor and needy. Finally and most importantly we honor the birth of the Christ child named Jesus. Jesus came not to pass judgment on the world but to give us a way to be redeemed even though we are sinners. Thank God for that.

This week I promised you a review of a photo from my first shoot. I will start with a photo of J.R. who was the first person I ever shot and was also the first photo I was to get published. This photo is still one of my favorite photos and I keep a copy of it in my portfolio.

Principals of composition:

The first thing this image has going for it is that it is an implied nude. The photo makes your eve try and connect the dots to make it a nude. Sorry that is just our nature. You are given enough to get your imagination going but not the full nude image.

As detailed below the photo features strong composition with regard to the rule of thirds. If you will notice J.R.’s face as well as her foremost leg falls on the left third line.

In the next example of the photo you will notice that J.R. hands as well as her cheek lye on the intersection of the golden triangle sections. Her leg also supports a strong feel of diagonal composition with several other implied triangles.

JR-Golden Triangle 39

In our third and final example J.R.’s pose has a feel for the golden spiral. It is not a direct comparison but it is really close and gives the viewer that general flow and feel to the overall composition of the photo.

JR-Golden Spiral 39

I have stated before and will in the future this is one of the luckiest shoots ever. I did not know enough about composition to plan this and it just happened. One thing that really helped this photo was the fact that J.R. was and experienced model. Had she been an amateur model I more than likely would have never seen this image appear before me. As with all things photography in any spectrum takes practice. The truth of the matter is everyone will tell you to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more and I’m right there with them. If you are lucky enough to have someone in your life that will let you practice on them do it every chance you get. Make it a daily thing if you can. Even if you never post the photos it will help you get better. Second is to read, read, and read some more. Look for books that will help to introduce new ideas you may not have thought of. Most books cost under $25 on Amazon and are a small investment in your future success. 

In my next post I will be breaking down a shot of my second model Little Liz. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I will be here when you come back.

Thank you,

JW Purdy

Bodyscape...Late

First and foremost, sorry for being so late with my post this week everyone. I am an active working photographer and it is a really busy time of year for me. I have been shooting and editing for days without end. Don’t get me wrong I love it however it does not leave much time for anything else.

For this weeks photo we have one of my first bodyscape images. I was focusing on the gentle curves of models Little Liz and Shannon Purdy. I place the models head to foot to create a contrast between the stocking colors and placed Shannon in the background so that the viewer would be forced to look at Liz’s curves. Had I place Shannon in the foreground your eye would have naturally gone to Shannon first due to her pail skin tone and you would almost overlook Liz completely. The arch of Liz’s back gives us an implied triangle and the soft curves of the photo act as leading lines.

(Example photo below)

Principals of composition - One of the keys to this being a successful photo is the framing of the models. If we segment the photo into two golden triangles you will notice the strong use of diagonal lines. On the right side of the image Little Liz's foremost nipple connects to the junction of Shannon's leg and buttock on a diagonal line. This junction is located on the intersection of the golden triangle. On the corresponding left side of the photo you will notice the intersection of Little Liz's back to upper buttock is at the intersection of the golden triangle and then connects to Shannon's far shoulder.

Notes on working with two models - When shooting two models together with different skin tones it is important to visualize the placement of the models to create a powerful photo that leads your viewers eye in a way you want. As described above if I had placed Shannon in the foreground your eye would have simply blocked out Liz or just skimmed over her. With careful placement and a little forethought to composition you can create an image that is very pleasing and intriguing to your viewer. 

I am thinking about starting a VLOG and would like to know if any of you would be interested in watching a detailed breakdown of how I view composition in a art nude photo. Please shoot me a message of your thoughts on what kind of content you would love to see in a VLOG. Since I have only recently restarted this blog I have noticed that I have not discussed any rules of composition yet. I will be dedicating my next few posts to some rules of composition I personally focus on.

Thanks everyone and have a great weekend.