Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge is called “Guide the viewer and flipping photos” and it is all about guiding (manipulating?) the viewer to see what the photographer wants him to see. I found it very challenging to find photos I took for this task because it demands to look at a photograph without preconceived ideas of what I wanted to show, or the history of a particular photo. One needs to look only at the composition which is difficult if it is a familiar scene. Let’s see if I managed it, though.
Cee’s first hint is that the viewer will usually look at the brightest spot of a picture first.
The tattoo here is the focal point of the photo as it is bang in the middle but also highlighted by the streak of light which falls directly on the exposed part of the young woman’s decolleté.
Another natural bright spot in the picture. The face of the sleeping man is the central point of the picture.
The next photo, taken from underneath the Kochertal bridge (incidentally with 185 metres the highest bridge in Germany) is marred by the bright spot in the righthand corner. Instead of cropping the photo I resolved the problem by stepping a bit closer and tightening the shot (and at the same time straightening the line of the pylons)
With this picture of tempting fruit taking at a market stall the green of the background contrasts beautifully with the red cherries and at the same time harmonises with the green stems but the silver-white, out-of-focus scoop in the lefthand corner distracts the viewer. I resolved this by cropping (loosing also the metal border at the bottom).
This huge plastic sculpture on the side of one of the busiest innercity roads in Munich guides the eye of the viewer in an S-curve starting at the lower part of the leg and following the line of the body.
Here as well the viewer starts in the middle, almost at the bottom of the picture and follows the silvery stream in a curve, a twisted S leading off to the right.
But Cee’s next explanation was how flipping a photo can increase it’s impact because of the different direction a viewer’s eye takes. It tried it with this photo and although the difference is relatively subtle it is still perceptible:
Because of the slim but bright stem in the right corner the eye is drawn towards this direction. Working with students who come from a right-to-left writing culture I wonder whether they will naturally reverse their approach to the direction of a photo, i.e. will look from right to left and therefore the flipping will have the opposite effect.
Another example where the flipped photo is more appealing because the movement of the eye follows the down-up left-right movement associated with reading and writing Latin letters. The original is the top photo – a river surfer in the middle of Munich where a step in the river Isar creates this unique permanent wave and where – so I am told – river surfing was invented a couple of decades ago.
As I said I found it hard to find suitable photos for this challenge but this is always why I liked it so much. It forced me to go back to my photos and try to look at them with a fresh approach.