Photograph above taken in Maine with a Leica MP-240
Composition is the orderly and harmonious grouping and arranging of lines and masses so that they will present a pleasing relation one to another. Unless the various parts of a design or picture are so arranged, they are simply isolated parts and have nothing of interest or value. For instance, if six matches or toothpicks are allowed to fall upon a sheet of paper, the effect, shown in Fig. 1 (a), will not be orderly and harmonious and therefore no pleasing arrangement will be formed. But if the sticks are purposely arranged as in (b), a hexagon will be formed. Placing one end of each stick against one end of all the others and spreading the bodies of the sticks out fanwise, as in (c), produces a sunburst. Placing them as in (d) forms a six-pointed star. Still, other orderly and harmonious arrangements could be made with the six matches, all illustrating composition.
Composition, however, also depends on the relative sizes and shapes of the outlined spaces; the relative tone values, sizes, and shapes of the masses of black, gray, and white; and the relative color values, as well as their light and dark values, and the sizes and shapes of the masses of colors.
The chief elements of composition are unity, balance, rhythm, harmony, and concentration of interest. Unity is the holding together of the parts. Balance is the placing of each part in its proper position so that no part will be unduly emphasized. Rhythm is the constant relation and orderly connect of parts. Harmony is the consistent arrangement of parts that have something in common, such as size, etc.
In the composition of pictures, however, the parts must also be so arranged as to keep the observer’s interest concentrated on the proper object or figure. Unless this is done, the picture will not convey the message or tell the story in the most graphic manner. Click here to learn more composition tips and techniques.
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