Ugly Hedgehog - Photography Forum
Home Active Topics Newest Pictures Search Login Register
Advice from the Pros
Dynamic symmetry, getting away from the rule of thirds
Jan 30, 2019 17:37:20   #
blackest Loc: Ireland
 
Hi all,

I've recently come across something called dynamic symmetry and an interesting website http://www.dynamicsymmetryart.com/
its pretty much greek to me and in its origins.
The sum up in a sentence its a system of armatures (grids) which can be used to align elements of an image in a pleasing way.
It's been used by artists well apparently for a couple of 1000 years. For an artist it is relatively easy to use since the artist gets to choose where to place things, it is a lot harder for a photographer as we tend to have a brief period to compose our photo.

unlike the rule of thirds there are a huge number of possibilities of grids and where to place things.

Apparently Martine Franck tended to work along these lines

https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535XVA#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535XVA&POPUPIID=2S5RYDXXAA1&POPUPPN=81

in some ways i'm thinking given enough time you can make any photo conform to an armature, is this a topic worth pursuing, or have i managed to find an insane web site.

what are your thoughts on this?

Reply
Jan 31, 2019 01:12:29   #
blackest Loc: Ireland
 
This short youtube video gives a bit of a primer,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ7fahM5sBQ

unfortunately gestalt psychology is mentioned which is something floyd likes to bang on about in a totally incomprehensible way. It sounds impressive but it's a number of simple things like balance.

This is one of a number of armatures i have found. If you see the basic cross corner to corner the 'baroque' angle runs from the corner to intercept the first cross at a 90 degree angle. The 2 pairs of horizontal and vertical lines are coming from , hmm if you look at this sideways you have the same pattern as you have horizontally if the baroque lines were to meet off the page.

one of the rectangles used is what they called a root 2 if you start with a square of unit length the diagonal is root 2
square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
so 1 squared + 1 squared = 2 and root 2 is 1.4142. Easier though is to set a compass with the radius set to the diagonal of the square move the arc down to being horizontal. and you finish up with a rectangle 1 by 1.4142

You can continue to make a root 3 rectangle by a similar action the long side of the root 2 rectangle is 1.4142 (squared is 2) 1 squared is 1 which added together is 3 and root of 3 is 1.7320 the root 4 rectangle is easy with the same process 1.7320 is root 3 so 3 +1 = 4 root of 4 is 2
so this rectangle is 1 by 2. The root 4 rectangle seems to be of most use to photographers.

https://youtu.be/Mi7AcyGrJHM this is a long interview with myron barnstone, it's interesting.

Armature (for 35mm frame proportions)
Armature (for 35mm frame proportions)...
(Download)

Tips&Techniques.pdf
Attached file:
(Download)

Reply
Feb 2, 2019 07:57:38   #
blackest Loc: Ireland
 
The trouble with the 1.5 grid is its not really that different from the thirds grid. this kind of led me towards a more perfect grid the 4:3 and then the 16:9. based off the 4:3 i already made. Ok other people have done their own analysis so here is my 16:9 grid applied to blade runner at 16:9 and stretched to cover the whole frame. The stretched looks quite good but i really doubt it was used in composing the shot, i basically doodled it from a 60:30 triangle. Maybe it does show the rule of thirds is not so special after all. It is a design tool and we can make our own.

35mm armature with rule of thirds
35mm armature with rule of thirds...
(Download)

4:3 grid
4:3 grid...
(Download)

16:9 grid
16:9 grid...
(Download)

16:9 applied
16:9 applied...
(Download)

16:9 stretched
16:9 stretched...
(Download)

Reply
 
 
Feb 3, 2019 17:14:35   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
I have been studying his for a long time- it's extremely interesting!

I don't think of it as getting away from the rule of thirds in that it can be added to the rule or serve as a different approach.

Some years ago, I made some overlays on lith film to place on my view camera's ground glass to help with composition. I also made some overlays for my medium format equipment. It was good for practice but I found it easier just to keep the principles in mind. Of course, with most digital camera there is no longer access to the focusing screen. I think some cameras have a feature where by some of theses guide lines can appear on the screen instead of the usual grid lines.

If you check out the attached diagrams you will notice that there are numbers on some of the intersecting lines that indicate IMPACT POINTS. That is the theory of combing the dynamic symmetry and the rule of thirds. If important elements are placed at those intersections, that shoud lead the eye to the main motif of the image.

I don't have theses guides on my monitor screen either but If I place one on the screen, after cropping and determining the final composition, some of the more satisfying arrangements usually conform to the diagram or come close to it.

I like to compose by "gut" and the see if my compositions fit into any of the classic configurations.

For those who study composition, the rule of thirds and dynamic symmetry are the tip of the iceberg. There a ton of theories- Divine Proportions, Golden Section, Golden Mean, The Fibonacci Sequence and the Euclid Elements, just to name a few. Seems all the great mathematicians, through the ages, tried to define artistic composition in terms of mathematics. geometry and balance.

It's certainly wise to study theses things but sometimes I just say set it up, line it up, light it up and if it looks good- shoot it!


(Download)


(Download)

Reply
Feb 4, 2019 12:01:16   #
blackest Loc: Ireland
 
E.L.. Shapiro wrote:
I have been studying his for a long time- it's extremely interesting!

I don't think of it as getting away from the rule of thirds in that it can be added to the rule or serve as a different approach.

Some years ago, I made some overlays on lith film to place on my view camera's ground glass to help with composition. I also made some overlays for my medium format equipment. It was good for practice but I found it easier just to keep the principles in mind. Of course, with most digital camera there is no longer access to the focusing screen. I think some cameras have a feature where by some of theses guide lines can appear on the screen instead of the usual grid lines.

If you check out the attached diagrams you will notice that there are numbers on some of the intersecting lines that indicate IMPACT POINTS. That is the theory of combing the dynamic symmetry and the rule of thirds. If important elements are placed at those intersections, that shoud lead the eye to the main motif of the image.

I don't have theses guides on my monitor screen either but If I place one on the screen, after cropping and determining the final composition, some of the more satisfying arrangements usually conform to the diagram or come close to it.

I like to compose by "gut" and the see if my compositions fit into any of the classic configurations.

For those who study composition, the rule of thirds and dynamic symmetry are the tip of the iceberg. There a ton of theories- Divine Proportions, Golden Section, Golden Mean, The Fibonacci Sequence and the Euclid Elements, just to name a few. Seems all the great mathematicians, through the ages, tried to define artistic composition in terms of mathematics. geometry and balance.

It's certainly wise to study theses things but sometimes I just say set it up, line it up, light it up and if it looks good- shoot it!
I have been studying his for a long time- it's ext... (show quote)


I think we tend to seek order and rhythm visually and aurally. If we listen to music we can spot the bum note, but there are many combinations that work together and have different tones a major chord has a different sound to a minor chord and progressions will be using the notes within a key. Visually i think we can see where somethings wrong or out of place. My favorite instrument to play is the guitar and sometimes the notes are less than perfectly pitched but reach a fair approximation, close enough is fine. Although it makes you cringe if its too far out.

How about visually? I have a photo I took a headshot of a dog and there are no other elements in the photo. Because of life the proportions are based on phi, so visually there is nothing to clash and be out of place. The dog is proportioned on phi and i have just the framing to get right.

How about a model, don't we tend to blur the background is that to bring out the model or to remove unwanted elements that compete for attention. The mantra simplify, simplify ... It starts to fall into place, doesn't it? As we introduce more elements into a scene it becomes harder to keep a balance and a structure but we can do it. A found scene is much harder to identify an order which works, maybe one of the reasons we like a low light in the golden hour is the repeating shadows ...

The rule of thirds is one way to impose order but it gets tired, its a bit like status quo songs they have hammered away with 12 bar blues so much its gotten tired and stale and generic.

I am now convinced that there are a lot of ways to bring an order or a design to a scene and we are free to choose any of them and maybe your gut is a good place to recognise that you have found an order.

Reply
Feb 6, 2019 20:03:14   #
btbg
 
blackest wrote:
I think we tend to seek order and rhythm visually and aurally. If we listen to music we can spot the bum note, but there are many combinations that work together and have different tones a major chord has a different sound to a minor chord and progressions will be using the notes within a key. Visually i think we can see where somethings wrong or out of place. My favorite instrument to play is the guitar and sometimes the notes are less than perfectly pitched but reach a fair approximation, close enough is fine. Although it makes you cringe if its too far out.

How about visually? I have a photo I took a headshot of a dog and there are no other elements in the photo. Because of life the proportions are based on phi, so visually there is nothing to clash and be out of place. The dog is proportioned on phi and i have just the framing to get right.

How about a model, don't we tend to blur the background is that to bring out the model or to remove unwanted elements that compete for attention. The mantra simplify, simplify ... It starts to fall into place, doesn't it? As we introduce more elements into a scene it becomes harder to keep a balance and a structure but we can do it. A found scene is much harder to identify an order which works, maybe one of the reasons we like a low light in the golden hour is the repeating shadows ...

The rule of thirds is one way to impose order but it gets tired, its a bit like status quo songs they have hammered away with 12 bar blues so much its gotten tired and stale and generic.

I am now convinced that there are a lot of ways to bring an order or a design to a scene and we are free to choose any of them and maybe your gut is a good place to recognise that you have found an order.
I think we tend to seek order and rhythm visually ... (show quote)


I think that there are more photographers who use dynamic symmetry than you would suppose.
My art training started with taking art appreciation in college to fulfill a general education requirement.

Later I took two painting classes. I have never taken a photography class, although I have attended photography seminars or workshops.

We were made aware of dynamic symmetry in those art classes. I think that most photographers that know about dynamic symmetry tend to be a little bit lazy and don't always check a grid to see if their composition fits the grid exactly or if they should move a person or object in the photo or perhaps move the camera location. Instead they kind of do it by feel.

Being more deliberate is probably better, but with experience people often follow rules that they may not even consciously be aware of.

Because I primarily shoot sports photography I don't often look for opportunities to follow any dynamic symmetry rules for work. I do attempt to use the concept when shooting landscape or nature photography in my spare time however. Any rules, whether rule of thirds, following a grid, or any of the other composition and design concepts are intended as aids. They have value, but none should be used exclusively.

Reply
Feb 9, 2019 04:30:48   #
R.G. Loc: Scotland
 
What I have managed to glean so far is that the ROT (rule of thirds) is a long way from being the only legitimate composition guideline. It seems to me that the other "rules" legitimise other possibilities. And what that means is that there's no right or wrong, just various options which each have their own pros and cons.

It also seems to me that when there are multiple elements within the scene (as opposed to a single main subject), the dynamics change, in the sense that the more complex possibilities can be used for placement. If two or more of the elements coincide with the intersection points in a grid it suggests that that particular placement will have at least some justification in the sense that it will impart at least a degree of structure and harmony, when compared to non-coincidental placements. But I'm left wondering where the threshold level is when it comes to significance. Multiple objects coinciding with a grid's intersection points will presumably create some sense of structure and harmony, and in that situation the rule becomes justified (i.e. significant), but two or three objects conforming to some grid or other doesn't seem so compelling to my mind. And the situation becomes more obscure as the number of elements within the scene increases (unless they ALL conform to a single rule).

It could be argued that even a minimal amount of significance is better than none, and that sums up my attitude towards the ROT. If I can't discern by eye what's going to work well then I'll opt for the ROT option as a default with the assumption that it'll be better than nothing. But in realistic terms, how often are those rules going to facilitate achieving good composition at the time of capture? To my mind the best option is for the shooter to use their own eye and intuitive sense of composition. I would say the best place for the grids is not in the camera, rather it's in the PP editing software.

Reply
 
 
Feb 9, 2019 08:09:55   #
blackest Loc: Ireland
 
R.G. wrote:
What I have managed to glean so far is that the ROT (rule of thirds) is a long way from being the only legitimate composition guideline. It seems to me that the other "rules" legitimise other possibilities. And what that means is that there's no right or wrong, just various options which each have their own pros and cons.

It also seems to me that when there are multiple elements within the scene (as opposed to a single main subject), the dynamics change, in the sense that the more complex possibilities can be used for placement. If two or more of the elements coincide with the intersection points in a grid it suggests that that particular placement will have at least some justification in the sense that it will impart at least a degree of structure and harmony, when compared to non-coincidental placements. But I'm left wondering where the threshold level is when it comes to significance. Multiple objects coinciding with a grid's intersection points will presumably create some sense of structure and harmony, and in that situation the rule becomes justified (i.e. significant), but two or three objects conforming to some grid or other doesn't seem so compelling to my mind. And the situation becomes more obscure as the number of elements within the scene increases (unless they ALL conform to a single rule).

It could be argued that even a minimal amount of significance is better than none, and that sums up my attitude towards the ROT. If I can't discern by eye what's going to work well then I'll opt for the ROT option as a default with the assumption that it'll be better than nothing. But in realistic terms, how often are those rules going to facilitate achieving good composition at the time of capture? To my mind the best option is for the shooter to use their own eye and intuitive sense of composition. I would say the best place for the grids is not in the camera, rather it's in the PP editing software.
What I have managed to glean so far is that the RO... (show quote)


Myron Barnstone said the same thing for photographers it's more a tool of reflection after the fact. Henri Cartier-Bresson had his decisive moment and Shakespeare had all the world's a stage and if only all the actors would reach their marks , we really would be getting somewhere.

I'm quite envious of cinematographers , they get to organise and light the whole scene place the camera in the best possible vantage point and if it doesn't quite come together, they can say cut and everyone goes back to their starting positions again.

I think Henri, had the right idea, to find your scene and choose your view point and wait for your actors to reach their marks. It's kind of a gorilla filmmaking setup, one frame at a time.

I've been quite enjoying cracking open the artists tool box, and learning some techniques and tools which I think will aid my visual design. If we are to find the decisive moment we need to be able to read the scene, find our place in it and be ready. I think often we can find our set but we are there when the actors have gone back to the dressing rooms, we have the scene but not the story.

One of the hard things to define is mood, and how to achieve it, what will resonate with the viewer.

Here is an example

https://www.blackestknight.com/index.php/2016/09/21/build-a-home-breathe/

If you watch the video, your going to feel... I will let you find out yourself. It gets me everytime i see it.

Reply
Feb 19, 2022 15:48:59   #
flyboy61 Loc: The Great American Desert
 
Let's not make this more difficult than it needs to be, Eh?

Reply
If you want to reply, then register here. Registration is free and your account is created instantly, so you can post right away.
Advice from the Pros
UglyHedgehog.com - Forum
Copyright 2011-2022 Ugly Hedgehog, Inc.