Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Exploring With A Camera ~ Visual Weight

We can all take pictures. You just look through the view finder and snap, right?  Yes, we can if we just want snapshots. Let me say this right here, there's nothing wrong with snapshots, I have hundreds of them and many of them  mean more to me than the most beautiful photo I can create!  But, as photographers we sometimes want a photo that's more than just a snapshot. We may want to capture a moment or a story or just the exquisite beauty of nature. In order to do that there are many things that need to be considered.  How do we draw the viewer to focus on the intended subject of the photo? One way is through visual weight which we've been considering in our latest exploration with Kat Eye Studio.

What is visual weight?
It's anything in a photo that attracts the eye of the viewer. It's the first thing you see when you look at a photo and it's what we spend the most amount of time looking at.

So what does attract us?
Bright colors - Let me show you a couple of examples. There's a lot of green and little purple flowers in this image, but it's the bright yellow flower that attracts our attention first. We then look at the rest of the photo. Most likely your eye will again travel to to the yellow flower. This was what I wanted to capture, the single yellow flower in a sea of green.

In this photo that small red seed catches the eye! I took this photo to show the unusual magnolia seedpod which has wonderful shapes and textures. Even though you see the red first, it leads you to see the complete pod.

Brightly illuminated objects - The sun illuminating the dandelion makes it bright; therefore our eyes see it first. Then our eyes begin to wander around the photo and we see the dew drops shimmering on the grass.

In focus objects - This photo is full of pink and blue flowers. The subject of this photo is the front flower which is half pink and half blue. In order to draw  attention to it, I made sure that it was in focus. The rest of the flowers just make a beautiful, blurry background.

Objects on the edge of the composition ~  I took this photo because I like the bunch of grasses along the edge of the pond.  I put it near the front edge of the photo so you would see it first before you looked at the water, trees, and reflection.

Isolated objects - There are many things in this image; grave markers, monuments, a big sky, and ground. But what intrigued me was the shape of this tree. To make it the subject of the photo I isolated it. There were several other trees just to the right.  I made sure they weren't visible in the picture causing your eye to focus on this one.

Human faces - This is a busy picture with lots of things to look at and lots of bright colors. Even in the busiest of pictures our eyes will always go to human faces. You see my grandson first. You see his eyes, his little bashful look, and his curly hair, then you see the table with cake and watermelon. By then, you're beginning to  know the story behind the shot; my grandson's birthday party. I can't believe he's three!! We really had a wonderful time. He had a "Picnic Party" complete with hot dogs, watermelon, grape and cheese kabobs, cake, ice cream, and lemonade.  I've gotten distracted here haven't I!

Back to the subject of visual weight! As I looked through my images I realized that this is something I need to work on. I really, really just want to snap quickly and take lots of photos. In reality, I need to spend more time looking through the view finder and composing my shots using the many wonderful tips that Kat has given us.  I know I've said it before, but Kat's explorations, her blog,  and her website have helped me enormously!! I'd encourage you to click on the button at the top and spend a little time on her blog. Her Exploring With A Camera  series is free. I'm not getting any kickbacks for saying this, I'm just sayin' that I'm thrilled with her teachings!!

Until next time...


  1. Excellent tutorial on visual weight, Cathy! Your examples really illustrate your points well. I love your hydrangea image and your grandson is just too cute!

  2. Great examples, Cathy! I like all of these images, but the one of the tree stands out. And it goes without saying that your grandson is adorable...I totally understand your distraction!

    This is a fun exploration, isn't it?
    I, too, have realized that a little more time in planning can really make a difference in the photos we create. It occurs to me that we are moving from being "snapshoters" to photographers...

  3. Cathy - great examples of visual weight. You have defintely taken Kat's lesson and matched up strong images that utilize these principles.

    I think slowing down is something we can all benefit from - taking the time to think more clearly about composition will definitely improve our images. It is certainly something I strive for each time I pick up the camera.

  4. A lovely series of photos showing "visual weight" Cathy. My favourites are those hydrangea on the edge of the composition and your sweet little grandson's third birthday!

  5. Cathy, thanks so much for your ongoing participation and enthusiasm for Exploring with a Camera! I love having you involved. You found great examples to illustrate the different aspects of Visual Weight. I think you'll find that a lot of this concept is second nature, and works in concert with other principles. I especially like the Magnolia seedpod. You never fail to show me details in the natural world I would not otherwise notice. Thank you!

  6. cathy, it's these kinds of things that really do make a difference in photography. exactly like you said - transforming a snapshot into something that really tells a story. so helpful to me on my journey in photography. thanks for sharing!!

  7. I love how you've put so much thought in to this and I love, love your examples. I love the tree shape in the cemetry shot and the illuminated dandelion in it's sea of sparkley bokeh, so pretty. And your grandson is adorable.:) Great job, your images and words are very inspiring.


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