Exercise – Balance

The brief:

Take half a dozen of your own already-taken photographs and decide how the balance works in each one. Look for what seems to you to be the dominant part (or parts) of the image. Identify them in a small rectangular sketch and alongside sketch the ‘weighing scale’ interpretation.

Figure 01 - Balance 01

Figure 01

Balance scaleI have identified three dominant parts to the image in Figure 01. The Hotel Europe (centre) is balanced equally by the buildings and large tree on either side. Although there are cars in the foreground I do not regard them as being dominant, but rather providing secondary visual interest.

Figure 02 - Balance 02

Figure 02

Balance scaleIn figure 02 it is clear that there are two dominant parts in this image, namely the woman in the pink dress and the colourful mural on the wall that she is looking at. Her gaze confirms this. The building behind the painted wall simply continues the visual line of sight. This is an example of dynamic or asymmetrical balance.

Figure 03 - Balance 03

Figure 03

Balance scaleAnother example of dynamic balance is featured in figure 03. The woman wearing sunglasses and the man in the hoodie behind her form a cohesive dominant part of the image and therefore I have grouped them together, while the woman on the left just entering the frame forms another dominant part.

Figure 04 - Balance 04

Figure 04

Balance scaleFigure 04 is an example of a centrally balanced image.

Figure 05 - Balance 05

Figure 05

Balance scaleAnother example of dynamic balance: the man’s torso and the puppet are the two most important components of this image.

Figure 06 - Balance 06

Figure 06

Balance scaleAlthough there are many dominating components in figure 06 I feel that the main balance lies between the two individuals seated on the bench and the high rise buildings on frame right as they are diagonally opposite each other. The buildings are darker and taller than Canada Place (the white structure in the middle) and if one looks carefully in the square I have marked around these buildings, one will see that Canada Place originates in this square, so it is really an extension of that section. I also feel that the colour plays an important part in determining dominance, white being a recessive colour and tends to blend more into the background.

I found this exercise quite difficult for a number of reasons – sifting through a ton of images to make a few selections is a daunting task at the best of times. (Maybe I will keyword my future images with balancing terminology in future). There is so much to consider when considering balance – it isn’t just about the weight of the image, but also about tone, colour rhythm and tension. As stated by Freeman in The Photographer’s Eye (p. 42), “the more extreme the asymmetry, the more the viewer expects a reason for it.”