Figure 12-14.Compositional balance.
or value, and the objects all appear to belong in the
scene. Balance can best be achieved by offsetting
unequal sizes, shapes, tones or objects in a scene.
A good method of balancing objects of unlike
shapes and weight is that they be placed at unequal
distances from the imaginary center of support. In other
words, a small object placed a greater distance from the
center counterbalances a much larger object just as
though they were on a pair of scales. A small object of
considerable importance and weight can be used to
balance effectively a large, but less important object (fig.
The mental impression of weight is a factor in
determining the relative placement of objects in a scene.
Size alone does not determine the weight or value of an
object. The tone of the object and placement in the
photograph are factors in deter-mining its importance.
In analyzing masterpieces to learn the secret of their
effectiveness, some experts found that the parts of the
photograph are grouped according to some geometrical
form. This finding can prove useful in planning the
composition of your photograph; however, you are
cautioned against applying it too mechanically. If you
use these forms without modification, the resulting
photographs are likely to be stilted and dull. The real
trick is to use them in such a reamer as to hide them
The most important basic forms are as follows: the
pyramid (sometimes called the triangle), the circle, the
cross, the L, the radii and the S. All of these forms
may be used in composition of material in a vertical
plane or in a photograph involving perspective.
Combinations of these forms, such as a circle and a
cross, may appear in one photograph.
The pyramid form (fig. 12-15) suggests symmetry,
solidity, aspiration or dignity. We see it in religious
photographs, in church spires and in portraits with the
head as the apex of the triangle.
The circle lends itself to flower studies, still life,
graceful groups or landscapes timed in trees.
The cross composition is found in a sailboat with its
reflection in water forming one line and the horizon
forming the other.
The L composition may occur when a tree at one
side of the photograph forms an L with the horizon
The radii composition has lines leading into a
center, or out from it, as spokes lead to the hub of a