Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Image of the Month: October 2014

Putting aside the usual abstract adventure I've typically been showcasing for Image of the Month, I decided to go old school with a classic black & white.  This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the recognition of the first women's field hockey varsity team at University of Michigan, or as they are often referred to as Team 1  (year of 1973).  

Watching the current University of Michigan's women's team play Rutgers and celebrate the dedication of the new Phyllis Ocker Field & and Athletic Center I decided to use the vintage approach of black & white as an homage to the earlier times of 1973 when the first field hockey varsity team hit the field.  There's something to be said for the simplicity of black and white as it removes the distraction of color that often impedes the viewer from focusing on the content of the image as opposed to fixating on the attention grabbing color.  

The other reason this image made the cut for the October showcase is the composition.  As previously inferred, simplicity is typically neglected and an understated art form that is too often ignored as a basic element of composition.  Or in other words, the Gestalt psychology principles can lead to more dynamic tension filled with lines, form, tension and overall excitement.

Just as a refresher, here's the basic principles of Gestalt psychology as it applies to photography:
  1. Figure-Ground.  Are you able to differentiate a form from its surroundings? This helps to control your audience's perception of what to focus on.  Here the players are distinctly set apart from their surroundings of the open field surface.
  2. Proximity.  Elements placed close to each other is often perceived as one group.  In this case the closeness of a large number of teammates and field officials unifies them together and is perceived by your eye as one large object.
  3. Symmetry & Balance.  This is based on the Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds.  You can direct the viewer's focus onto a select area of the image by creating equilibrium, whether it's symmetrical or in the above image, an asymmetrical balance.  This placement of the team in the upper third immediately places interest in that area.
  4. Similarity.  Elements that have similarities will often be viewed together as a group or pattern.  Deliberate use of similarity can add more meaning to an image.
  5. Continuity.  Here the viewer's eye is compelled to move in a direction inferred by the composition.  In this image, the field lines that converge at the center of the team's gathering compels the viewer to follow the leading lines to the central focal point....the team.
  6. Closure.  It's about giving the brain enough information so that it can finish forming figures even if they aren't explicitly in the image itself.  It's closely related to Continuity and Similarity, the human brain follows contours and lines even when information is incomplete.  
This is all to say, consider your composition and the principles of Gestalt psychology when taking your next image.  And remember, simplicity is a beautiful thing.

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