Composition: Dynamic Balance III
Lesson: Dynamic Composition III
We’re heading into the home stretch. If you’ve not read these in order, I suggest you do so.
So far we’ve discussed the mass of visual elements, and the pull that is exerted by the frame – or visual gravity. We’ve discussed the rule of visual energy, and how that all leads to an understanding of visual balance – static or dynamic.
A couple more influences come to bear so I am going to tidy this all up and then do a review.
One or more elements may form lines within the frame. When these lines are horizontal or vertical they are more static and decrease the feeling of dynamic tension. They are neutral. Horizontal lines are more neutral than vertical lines.
Dynamic sensation increases when lines are diagonal. There are two diagonals in a frame; the primary diagonal runs from top left to bottom right, beggining at the point of greatest height and ending at the point of greatest “depth”. The secondary diagonal runs between the other two corners. Visual elements placed on the primary diagonal generate a greater visual dynamic sensation than when they are placed along the secondary diagonal. (I owe a debt to Raymond Aubin here because he explains it so well. Much of this lesson is a near-straight translation of his excellent article)
Direction or Orientation
Visual elements may also have an orientation. The gaze of a person, for example, or the natural movement of a person, animal, vehicle may indicate motion or direction, along with other elements.
A visual element’s orientation may go in the direction of visual force in the frame or it may run contrary. In the first case the dynamic tension is reduced, in the latter it is increased. For example, a person climbing the stairs from “low” to “high” along the primary diagonal – the direction or orientation runs counter to the visual force and increases the tension.
To sum up what took three careful lessons to explain is a little nutty. But I think there’s a so-what this is lacking in the previous explanations.
If you are looking to add a sense of tension of imminent motion to your images- or if you’re looking to intentionally avoid this – you must understand the influence of the elements in your frame and the pull of the frame itself. Together they interact to form a balance (not always – sometimes people make crappy images. or images intentionally lacking balance to make the viewer feel unsettled) – and that balance can be static of dynamic according to what you’ve done with the elements within the frame. Which elements, where they are placed within the frame, whether or not they form diagonal lines with other elements, and the direction those elements face, all add up to an understanding of dynamic balance.
I’d love to open this one to questions, if you have them. Especially if something is a little foggy. I am preppping my curriculum and want to teach this, but it’s no good if my explanations (which make perfect sense to me!) don’t add up somewhere.