Repeating elements is one way you can bring added visual interest into some of your photographs. Most of the day we move through a visual maze of chaos and disorder, and when we see a visual theme of patterns and structure it can have an element of appeal.
Photographers who shoot in major metropolitan areas often rely on this visual technique a lot when shooting around interesting architecture. The opportunities for shooting this technique in nature is fairly rare on a macro scale, but on a micro scale as in close up macro photography, the natural world is loaded with order of structure by design, so there are plenty opportunities there.
Repeating Elements - Crab Apples
For a little clarification on Repeating Elements and intersting patterns, let's try a little experiment in the graphics seen below.
Compare the images that are next to each other horizontally side by side. Imagine which one of the two you would rather see hanging on your wall for a long period of time. Note your answer for each of the four graphics and we'll compare notes.
Repeating Elements Graphic Examples
Photopursue.com © 2011.
My guess is that your selection for the chosen images of preference will be of the following. My answers are presented in order from top to bottom.
Row (1) The pattern for your eye to follow of the two circles is really just a simple straight line between the two circles, that is there is nothing for your eye to do but to look at both of them. With image to the right an implied line between three circles is a triangle, and triangles are usually more visually interesting than a single straight line, and there is a sense of depth to this picture. Three similar objects is usually more interesting then just two of them.
Row (2) The second row, we have a static image, and the four pie sections seems so balanced that boredom results quickly. The pie with five slices is simple pattern but there is an energy like rays of the sun.
Row (3) We see no pattern in the arrangement of triangle pieces. But our mind will simplify the way we look at this and sort it into a color pattern, and it becomes a little interesting. The pattern on the right is yet again rather static looking though it has pattern of shapes and color.
Row (4) The image on the left is vary two dimensional, and there is no real relationship between the broken lines scattered around. The image on the right is has a strong dimensional quality to it, drawing you into the depth of the lines.
Naturally there will be some variance in who likes what, but if your choices match mine, or at least we match three out of four, then there is something to the idea that repeating elements can be arranged in a pattern that is often more pleasing to us.
All this implies to you is, when you choose your camera angle for a subject or group of elements to appear in your framed shot, that you consider how multiple elements in the image might either be included or maybe even shifting your camera position to see if you can get a stronger visual image by thinking about these suggestions. Masters of Painting have been using these techniques for hundreds of years.
One peculiar point of interest occurs when we are looking at numbers of elements visually, even numbers tend to be less interesting for us to view, at least it's that way for me.
I would rather see 3 in a pattern then I would 2, or 5 instead of 6. For dealing with small groups of numbers, it seems to be the Prime numbers are more visually interesting.
Prime numbers are those numbers which are divided only by "1" or the number itself.
Though the dog did not break the dish, he is ready to bolt like he had.
We don't have to visually examine every broken piece of porcelain, the pieces are many, and that is enough to draw a relationship between the two subjects the dog and the big mess. It is interesting the dog has drawn the same conclusion.
Of course I am not a psychologist, but I do think this is statistically relevant. It is not only numbers that are relevant but also how we choose to pair repeating elements up. For instance, if there are two people in the picture, then some people might view that as one couple, and not so much two of the same subject of people, so two people here can be seen as a one element or group.
Of course I am not suggesting you tell someone to get out of picture because we have an even number people and that this tends to be boring, so scram. I am suggesting that when you have similar multiple elements to frame in a shot that you consider looking at your subjects from different angles of reference and see if your shot is best served by exclusion or inclusion of elements when dealing with small group numbers, say less then 10 or so.
Once you start to get up to 11 I don't know that it matters a whole lot the amount of repetition is present.
Repeating Elements or Lines
Birds on a phone line or a picket fence, puppies in a row, Hula Dolls on a manufacturing line, you name it, just about anything that is present in multiples might have added visual interest if there is some sense order present.
This can create a sense of familiarity for the viewer, where the mind does not have to solve for everything it is looking at, it can look at one object in the row and assume the others objects in that row are just like the other. Also this type of arrangement can often be used to show depth to an image, space traveling into the picture rather than just flat art.
Repeating patters can create a kind of negative space, like with a large field of crops, a space in your frame where not every detail is important. You can place one tree or a small barn amongst these rows of crops and we assume only two conceptual objects of importance. This supports the simplification idea of compositional elements.
Hawkins Island, Prince William Sound Alaska.
We don't pay any attention to the many small pebbles that make up this beach, it is just one nice beach. We do note the large triangular shaped rocks as visual interest. These shapes help make this picture interesting. Imagine if there was drift wood and grasses all over the beach, this would not be as interesting an image. This simplification is what is making this picture interesting.
This image uses three out cropping's of rocks to set up a mild triangle pattern, the eye finds them interesting to look at, without the three rock groupings in this image, it would loose most of it's strong visual interest. Granted, the solo kayaker in this remote wilderness environment is the point of the picture, but without the presence of those jagged rocks and the interesting pattern that they provide, this image would have less appeal.
Canadian Snow Birds are well praised for their
skilled formation flying, this must have been a off day, (Elm. AFB, Arctic Thunder 2010 air show).
What makes this image a little interesting is the chaos flying pattern, and perhaps that it is a bit dangerous, but again, if there were only four planes, or even six planes, this image would not look as interesting to me. This stunt is more visually interesting to look at in a Prime number.
These compositional guidelines of repeating elements are just that, guidelines. They can help you choose a camera angle, or framing of your subject where you are finding it difficult to frame your shot. Sometimes the chaos and numbers of elements is so great, that this in itself can be the reason for the taking the picture.
& Slow Shutter Speed
And Story behind it!
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