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Compositions

The image is in the eye of the beholder

Every photograph has a compositional structure. This consists of the interaction between the open spaces that cause the eyes to move and the highlights that bring them to rest. Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar explains the cultural reading habits and design principles that need to be taken into consideration when digiscoping.

  • © Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar
  • © Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar
  • © Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar
  • © Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar

Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar is a biologist and discovered digiscoping as a result of his work. He is one of the best-known digiscopers in the German-speaking countries and his shots always arouse a great deal of interest and admiration. For his pictures, he uses an STX 25-60x85 spotting scope with a TLS APO lens system from SWAROVSKI OPTIK.

Structuring an image is not dissimilar to furnishing a room, because this too involves different preferences. Some people opt for a simple, minimalist style, while others prefer rich, luxurious furnishings (or images). Whatever our preferences are, we must always pay attention to the composition of the image.



Many perspectives, one objective

Traditional design principles include: the basic structure, which involves dividing the image horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, the golden section, in which two harmonious dividing lines in both horizontal and vertical directions and their intersections determine the position of the highlights of the subject, the optical triangle, in which the components of the subject are arranged in a free triangle shape, to keep the observer’s eyes on the image.

Digiscoping, which has a more two-dimensional effect, often uses the short depth of field as an aspect of composition.



Every culture sees things differently

In Western culture, texts and also images are read from left to right. In addition, in terms of the psychology of perception, pictures tend to be viewed from bottom left to top right.

This has consequences for the impact of images, because our shots either work with or against the path taken by the eyes. When the observer’s glance leaves the picture, the composition is overturned. We have literally lost the person who was looking.



Predictable equals boring

In artistic terms it is much simpler to achieve a balance by means of symmetry (for example, a reflection in water). Unfortunately, compositions of this kind soon become boring, because they fully meet our expectations and contain no new or surprising features. The situation is different when we compose asymmetrical shots. The image immediately has an element of suspense.

However, an area must be included which compensates for the asymmetrically arranged subject, in order to maintain the balance of the image. As has already been mentioned, in terms of the psychology of perception, the bottom left corner of the image is particularly important. An open area or a complementary highlight (in the form of a color or an object) in this corner anchors the image and gives an asymmetrical picture its optical balance.



Tips

What position should be chosen for areas and highlights that cause the eyes to rest for a longer period? A subject in an image must be set up in the same way as a room.

Is the image in balance or is it lopsided, because specific areas of the subject are dominant? The optical balance can be restored by changing the area of the image that has been selected and including the anchoring area (bottom left).

Do I use the triangle rule in digiscoping? If the answer is yes, the roving glance will remain focused on the image as a result of the arrangement of the important components of the subject in a triangle with an extremely free form.