That is why it is very useful to know exactly which "rules" are subject to human perception. Alfred Lukyanovich Yarbus was engaged in the study of exactly how people “view” images, who, using a special method of tracking the pupils of subjects who were shown various images, deduced several patterns.
Here are some features of images that attract attention in the first place:
1. Places with the greatest detail
2. Borders of contrasts
3. Human faces
4. Letters and symbols
5. Bright elements
In addition, Yarbus found out that a person’s gaze follows the lines in the frame. At the same time, they can be not only explicit, but also imaginary. And it is precisely on the “lines” that most landscape compositions are built.
But it is very important to understand that we cannot say with 100% certainty how exactly the viewer will view the photograph, we can only make assumptions.
Let's now take a closer look at the most common compositional techniques used in landscape photography. It is not necessary to use everything at once in one photo (it can even do harm). Rather, these techniques are like bricks from which you can collect a photograph.
Well, let’s remind you again that before you build a composition and use this or that technique, you need to clearly understand what, why, and for whom you are taking this picture. And what exactly do you want to convey to the viewer.
In this picture, all the lines converge deep into the frame. And despite the fact that the size of the temple, located in the depth of the picture is quite small, the viewer will still notice and examine it, because “the lines will lead the look there”.
Perhaps the main compositional element that controls the viewer's gaze. It is the lines that the viewer's eye follows when “viewing” the photograph, which means they will help “show” and highlight the main semantic and compositional elements.
The main features of working with lines:
1. Horizontal lines give the picture a sense of “stability” and calm. A photograph in which only horizontal lines (a classic example, this is the sea with a horizon) looks static.
2. Vertical lines set the rhythm and are capable of transmitting scale and height (like tall trees and skyscrapers). And also, excellent frames are obtained from them, which do not allow the viewer's gaze to go beyond the image plane.
3. Diagonal lines add a sense of action and dynamics to the photo and create perspective. A classic example is a road that goes into the distance. But diagonals can also form tree branches.
4. Far-reaching lines help convey volume and perspective.
In this photo, colorful stripes on the surface of the hill set the rhythmic pattern. They attract the attention of the viewer and set the structure of the image.
Using rhythm allows you to structure and organize the space, and this, in turn, makes the picture more expressive.
Human perception is structured in such a way that it always seeks to find patterns and order everything, therefore an already ordered space is perceived as more harmonious.
The rhythm in the frame creates a sense of organization of space, conciseness and clarity of form and emphasizes a sense of continuity and periodicity.
In the landscape, clouds in the sky, tree trunks, fence sticks, waves, flowers and stones can form a rhythmic pattern.
It is worth remembering that rhythmic photos very often look static, but if there is some element in the composition that violates the rhythm, then the picture becomes more dynamic. And that object that “stands out” from the general rhythm immediately becomes more expressive and “noticeable”.
The tree branches and the boat act as a frame in this photo, it is these elements that prevent the viewer from looking beyond the borders of the frame and allow him to focus his attention on the church (it is also additionally highlighted in color and light). The boat included in the frame allows you to emphasize the atmosphere and tranquility of this place and convey the "surroundings".
A very expressive compositional element that allows you to make the photo more voluminous.
In addition, the presence of a frame in the photo does not allow the viewer to look beyond the frame and it turns out that the viewer considers the frame for longer and it seems more interesting and complete to him.
The trunks of trees and their branches most often act as frames in landscape photography. T..e. all you have to do is frame the subject with tree branches (for example, shoot through a gap in the foliage) and you get a frame. Or put a sprawling tree in the foreground.
Here, in order to make the photo more voluminous (and close the non-picturesque fence), flowers are placed in the foreground. They helped create a mood for this shot and at the same time convey the atmosphere of a summer morning.
Along with the lines, there is also the main compositional technique, which allows you to make the photo voluminous and create the effect of presence.
At the time of shooting, you should find some interesting element that should be put in the foreground.
This element, on the one hand, will create an additional plan and, within the meaning, will complement the composition, and on the other hand, will give the viewer's view a “entry point to the composition”. T..e. objects in the foreground seem to complement the composition and emphasize the features of the main subject.
It is very important to remember that the foreground must be visually separated from the middle and long-range plans. It can be a different color, or separated by a tonal perspective. And already precisely the foreground should not visually merge with all other plans: middle and background.
Foreground options can be very many. Most often, these will be some kind of plants, stones, branches.
Another compositional technique, built on the features of human perception to structure information. It is generally accepted that compositions based on the interaction of geometric shapes look more interesting. T..e.
It’s worth striving to ensure that your composition has simple geometric shapes, and an odd number of shapes is much better for perception than even. Three circles, 5 rectangles ...
Such a space, as well as when using rhythm, looks more structured, and therefore more harmonious.
Here, the use of reflections allows you to make the photo more “solemn” and complete. And the reeds in the foreground created extra volume. All this helped make the picture more voluminous.
A favorite technique in landscape photography. You can even say - “in any incomprehensible situation, look for reflection.” Using reflections allows you to make the frame more colorful and fill the space.
In fact, reflection in a lake or river allows you to create an additional plan in the photo and make the picture even more vibrant and voluminous. That is why, pictures taken on the banks of rivers, lakes and ponds look so interesting and colorful.
But do not forget, if you just take a picture of the object and its reflection, the frame will turn out to be “flat”, try to find some other plans and include them in your picture.
The rule of thirds (in fact, not the rule)
Speaking about the composition, one cannot fail to mention the “rule of thirds” about which all beginner photographers are told in every article or book on photography.
The meaning of this “non-rule” is that if the frame space is divided into equal thirds horizontally and vertically and the key elements are placed at the vertical intersection points, and the horizon is along the lower or upper third, then the picture will immediately become interesting and attractive.
But Yarbus' research does not confirm in any way that people look first of all at “thirds” and they have some special significance for the perception of photography. T..e. the space in the frame should be structured and ordered, the picture should be balanced, but whether the main element will be located in thirds or in the center depends entirely on the author’s idea.
From the above compositional techniques and elements, a good photo is a puzzle. T..e. Having come to some location, you first need to understand what exactly you want to convey to the viewer as your frame and which elements will work “on the frame idea”, and then look around and think how they can be structured and arranged in the frame to make the composition interesting, complete and attractive