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Shapes as Part of a Design

I am talking about organic shapes here but the theory works  with man-made shapes as well. Repetition of shapes can unify a composition, for example, series of clouds,  a group of buildings, bushes, rocks. Repetition would be boring if it was all the same  but repetition with variety makes a picture interesting.

Here is a photo of a tree. Just one tree in the foreground but the upward turn of the branches, which are repeated in themselves, are also repeated in the clouds. The bushes in the distance give balance to the overall picture.

Tree at Vera's

The repetition of round shapes of the snow helps to pull this shot of bushes together.The snow amongst  the busy lines  gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest while travelling throughout the picture plane.

Snowy Scene

The next photo demonstrates a strong figure/ground relationship or the positive/negative space in your photo. The positive space would be the object. The negative space is what shape or shapes are around it. Both are important and help balance each other.

A Single Stem

And a photo of repeated shapes again. There is repetition of the shapes yet variety so it does not become boring. There are a lot of triangles in the water, sky and mountain combined with the round shapes in the clouds and the little island.

Abraham Lake

Next time you go out just sit and look at a scene and look at the shapes. Look at whether they are singular, or repeated, large or small. See how the shapes work with other shapes and other elements of design, such as lines. Look at the big picture and look at the small intimate places as well.You might see things a bit differently.Now pick up your camera.

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15 responses

  1. This was wonderful Jane… so enjoyed not only the lovely shots … but I really learned something about the visual appreciation of repetition. I definitely can see whay you mean about the clouds and trees in the first shot.. love the third shot much – (dramatic).. Have a lovely weekend my dear friend ~ much love ~ RL

    March 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm

  2. Thanks for your comments Robyn. Enjoy the emerging spring!

    March 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm

  3. Great post. I think that the first photo shows so called: “Rule of thirds”. In many cases it is recommended to use. This one of my favorites

    The last photo has maybe the same idea. I love also it. The landscape which it presents is awesome to me.

    Happy Easter.

    March 30, 2013 at 2:31 am

    • good point-wasn’t even thinking of “rule of thirds” because the focus is on “shapes” but will have to do an article on the rule.Thanks Mattie and Happy Easter to you and your loved ones.

      March 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

      • actually I was thinking of thirds in the third one as well , the second one happened to end up that way, but will do an article on that.

        March 30, 2013 at 9:03 am

  4. Great post Jane! My camera is in hand and Happy Easter!

    March 31, 2013 at 8:34 am

  5. Having photo assignments really make one ‘see’ and be more conscious or the composition. The busy branches image – anything of very light value draws the eye in an image. It is where the eye goes first. It is not always a good thing, like on a photo I did of a frog last post. The back light blew out in reflection in the image center and drew the eye away from my subject. The subject should be the lightest thing in the photo and in the case of my frog, was not.

    April 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    • It could be a dark area in a predominately white setting, couldn’t it? (because of the contrast) Maybe I will be more discerning now that you have mentioned it. Thanks for the feedback.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      • True, but the dark are would likely be the focus of the image. I watch a lot of photo critique video and this is the most common problem, that and having distracting elements at the edge of a photo. Especially white or light elements.

        April 3, 2013 at 5:37 am

  6. Interesting and informative post Jane!

    April 3, 2013 at 5:55 am

    • Thanks Mia- I see you are having fun where you are.

      April 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

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