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Baringer Copyright 2012 A. Nicholas Editor: Anna Plesca Developmental Editors: David Roark.com ISBN-10: 0985026405 ISBN-13: 978-0-9850264-0-0 Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book. K. Victoria Irah. Gracie Jiles. Hope Splawn.Exquisite Curves Composition and Posing for Photographing the Female Nude A. Become aware of local laws before undertaking any activity in this book. or transmitted in any form or by any means. Narza Crumbie. . Anna Faulling. without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Published by Double Ink International www. stored in a retrieval system.nudephotoguides. Shelly Doyle Interns: Traci Beilharz. Tawny Calhoun. Nikki Dubose. Elena Marie. Sara Right. including but not limited to allergic reactions and electrical dangers. Special thanks to the models who appear in this guide: Jessica Anglin. K. No part of this publication may be reproduced. Tess Irah. Be aware that there are inherent hazards to the techniques described in this book. Christi Kilgore. Elizabeth Winters. they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties or merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Lauren Keil. Exercise caution and plan ahead. Ariel Williamson. Sarah Hyder. Nicholas All rights reserved. Melissa Heidelberg. Audrey Rose. Alyssa J.
Composition 3 Why Learn Composition? .............................................................. 3 Beginning with Visual Literacy.................................................... 4 What Is Visual Communication? ........................................... 4 Left Brain and Right Brain ...................................................... 5 Abstract Forms versus Content .............................................. 6 Elements of Composition .............................................................. 8 Line and Dimension................................................................. 8 Value (Brightness) .................................................................. 14 Color ......................................................................................... 14 Mass/Weight .......................................................................... 23 Depth and the Illusion of Reality ......................................... 24 Time and Motion .................................................................... 27 Design Principles: Putting the Elements Together................. 30 Texture ..................................................................................... 30 Rhythm, Repetition, and Progression ................................. 30 Balance ..................................................................................... 30 Negative and Positive Space................................................. 33 Unity and Variety................................................................... 35 Gestalt Principles.................................................................... 36 Emphasis.................................................................................. 40 Visual Pathway ....................................................................... 40 Methods of Design........................................................................ 44 Golden Mean........................................................................... 44 “Rule” of Thirds...................................................................... 48 More Armatures ..................................................................... 48 Culmination of Design Methods ............................................... 53 Common Composition Enhancements ............................... 53 Six Potential Composition Killers ........................................ 53 When Details Count............................................................... 53 The Scene in Composition..................................................... 54 Technique in Composition 55 In-Camera Technique ................................................................... 55 Focus......................................................................................... 55 Framing.................................................................................... 57 Lighting and Shadow ................................................................... 59 High-Key and Low-Key Images........................................... 60 Backlight .................................................................................. 61 Light as an Element................................................................ 61 Color of Light .......................................................................... 62 Postprocessing Effects .................................................................. 63 Vignettes .................................................................................. 63 Controlling Contrast .............................................................. 63 Monochrome ........................................................................... 63 Color Mapping........................................................................ 64 The Zone System .................................................................... 65 Isolating Images...................................................................... 66 Composites (Montages)......................................................... 67 Retouching Skin, Hair, and Backgrounds........................... 69 False Depth of Field ............................................................... 69 Abstracting with Software .................................................... 70
71 Discussion of Posing.....................................................................71 Working with the Whole Model...........................................72 Gallery of 110 Nude Poses ...........................................................77 Standing ...................................................................................77 Floor ..........................................................................................81 Furniture ..................................................................................87 Props .........................................................................................93 Discrete.....................................................................................95
Self-Expression and Style
97 Conscious and Unconscious Intent ............................................97 Why You Make a Photograph...............................................98 Context .....................................................................................99 The Influence of Genre.................................................................99 Figure Study vs. Portraiture ..................................................99 Commercial Design .....................................................................100 Analyzing Your Work .................................................................101 Inspiration.....................................................................................101 Inspiring Photographers ......................................................101 Inspiring Models...................................................................103 Presenting Your Work.................................................................104 105 Visual Themes..............................................................................105 Nude in Landscape...............................................................105 Off-Center Subject.................................................................105 Body Paint..............................................................................105 Implied Motion .....................................................................106 Levitation ...............................................................................106 Multiple Vantage Points ......................................................106 Get Close ................................................................................106 Fit a Shape..............................................................................106 Merge with Edges .................................................................106 Silhouettes..............................................................................107 Projected Shadows................................................................108 Mirrors and Windows..........................................................108 Experimental Techniques...........................................................108 Multiple Exposures with a Hand-Held Light...................108 Creative Unsharpness ..........................................................109 Explore Texture.....................................................................110
Closing 111 Brief Words about Equipment ..................................................111 Reader’s Links ..............................................................................112 Glossary 113 Bibliography .................................................................................115 Index...............................................................................................117
will already have most. fitting. Feel free to skim these more detailed passages. The documentary photographer is careful not to inject a bias into his/her work. who works merely as a technician to document reality. but knowing what you want to create is what makes you a better photographer.1 Preface his guide is intended to be accessible to anyone with a serious interest in composition and posing of female nudes. However. This multipronged approach accommodates a variety of learning styles. and every other technique that went into creating the image. or anyone with aesthetic intent. Since this guide does not teach basic camera technique. you will need to approach composition only after you have a basic proficiency with the craft. Although there are still a few photographers formulating wonderful images with film. and meaningful. I have distinguished such passages with a different font and color. It is what makes a photographer more than a person who sets some dials and pushes some buttons. Composition is a mental process and you will learn that it has ties to psychology and the science of perception. intermediate academic concepts will also be included in condensed form. I will delve into academic or historic discourse at times. the key points are always summarized for each area under discussion. and cinema. However. or aesthetic nudes. equations. I recommend a camera that has manual controls for setting the shutter speed and aperture (f-stop). whether they are students or professionals. pinup. It is written for the uninitiated and for those who have no more than a modest amount of experience with photography or composition. Matters of equipment technique comprise the minority of this book. Perhaps the worstsuited person to ponder a composition is a photographer who is engrossed in f-stops. as a photographer. as the title of this book implies. “Artist” could mean a fine artist that produces works for display in an art gallery. this book is written with the assumption that you are using a digital camera with interchangeable lenses. though I will discuss camera operation in the instances in which it intertwines with composition. for many professional photographers achieve superior results with less equipment than that of some well-equipped amateurs. It does not need to be a top-of-theline camera. shutter speeds. Large amounts of expensive equipment may allow you to attempt a wider variety of techniques. I do make a distinction between a camera operator. The main thrust of this book is a discussion of the aesthetics of photographing models more than a discussion of the processes and science of photography. and diagrams only where I find it unavoidable in order to do justice to the topics. Before you may see your work as others see it. you must put aside your analytical mind and let your creativity take the lead. Experienced artists. Recognizing that the audience for this book is broad and that some may want more detailed background. Although this book is primarily for the novice. photographers tend to be immersed in the technical process. Your job. more deeply than it may be desired by all readers. glamour. It is a skill that draws your photography into the same realm as other media— painting. Photography is a subset of the broad context of visual communication. I descend into jargon. Thoughtful composition is what sets striking images apart from commonplace ones. you cannot be consumed with thoughts about how it was constructed. More than with other media. But. of the knowledge inside of this book. In order to analyze a visual statement. This book is written in a plainspoken style whenever possible. You do not need to be an artist or a photographer to understand the material. I will use the terms “art” and “artist” somewhat generically to mean any visual self-expression or one who creates such a visual presentation. In this book. but this is exactly what an artist must do. there are infinite ways to represent this beauty. is to create work that is appealing. if not all. The lines of the female form are a masterpiece of nature. Whether you aspire to create beauty. and an artist who expresses his or her viewpoint on the subject being rendered. this book should be relevant to your genre. . drawing.
Until you attempt and reattempt what is in this book. it is a set of skills and. Some of them. you should know that the purpose of the drawing exercises is to open your mind to new ways of seeing and thinking that are broader than photography. To get the most out of this book. Additional research into core and tangent topics is encouraged. You will begin to take note of subtle aspects and no longer jump to conclusions or make assumptions. Herein you will find a discussion of composition that begins with the basics: elements and principles. Both physical appearance and emotional projection affect the pose. however. Compositional skill is a way of seeing visual elements and deciphering how the various characteristics relate to the entire visual presentation. including in-camera. It is only by practicing that you will learn. Instead of being a set of hard-and-fast rules. Certainly. Composition is also one of the most misunderstood pursuits. chiefly. Although the pose is part of each composition. Developing a composition requires you to make decisions. Posing is the process of positioning the body and presenting it for the camera to capture. Aspects of posing are analyzed from head to toe. the topics of posing and composition are a formidable pair for building your unique style of visual presentation. a way of seeing. Enjoy it. Composition is the arrangement of elements into an appealing and coherent visual statement. postprocessing. repeatable ways can be a dauntingly academic undertaking. a couple of soft pencils and a sketchpad will work fine. and the impact of lighting styles. This should be an exciting and energetic journey for you. Compositional techniques. You will find a few exercises to help put what you learn to immediate use and to reinforce memory. there are logical processes involved. begin with the basic exercises and practice the ideas that most inspire you. that will work just as well. but the most ignored ingredient is composition. The most important ingredient to a figure photo is the choice of model. That is not to say that there is no consensus amongst the learned as to what makes for engaging composition. There is no better way to learn this than with a pencil and paper. but rather to tie concepts of posing and composition together around the subject of the female nude. You do not need high-end art supplies. As you advance your ability to see composition. The most important ingredient to a figure photo is the choice of model—the most ignored ingredient is composition. round out the discussion. and it’s also important to consider the model as a whole. and progresses to methods of design. but you do not need a Ph.D. My Together. so my writing and visual examples are from that point of view. This is probably because composition requires serious effort and is not the “fun” part of nude photography. It is inevitable that the methods and examples shown herein could be applied to general photography or media other than photography. Composition is subjective. in art history to appreciate a well-designed image. a pressuresensitive graphics tablet and artist’s software. If you own the digital equivalent. Return to the analysis section periodically and refer back to other parts of this book when concepts start to look unfamiliar. but composition is centered on feeling and emotion. This text is not intended to be all-encompassing. there is little you can improve in your style. Before you shy away from such a task.2 Exquisite Curves experience is primarily with female models. To approach composition scientifically is a contradiction. Many of these require you to pick up your camera and find a model. ask you to use a pencil and paper like a traditional artist. you will gain the ability to observe a scene and to visualize the resulting photograph. . Do not expect to improve your photography by the simple act of reading this or any other book. the art of posing is a substantial topic in itself. Trying to understand what makes an image “feel right” or “look appealing” in structured.
even a hint of nudity can brand a photograph as lacking artistic merit. landscapers. A lone figure can be very limiting and therefore very challenging. the structure of visual presentation is not concretely prescribed. while those who try to copy them still devise boring photographs. such as spa treatments and cosmetics. the ingénue image-maker is at a disadvantage when photographing nudes because the subject matter can be captivating to the point of distraction. texture: these are just raw materials waiting to be assembled. a tree. When nudity comes into play. Although many photographers mistakenly feel that competent technique is paramount. though some of this data may be irrelevant to both the artist and the viewer. a river). color. leading to greater reluctance to have them all embraced as artists. a novelist’s proficiency in spelling and grammar are not put to use. but this author disagrees. but again the range is limited—you can only pose a model where you can physically put her (a couch. If anything. There is a huge market for non-explicit nude photographs. So if there is no such thing as correct or incorrect composition. at times. Your plan for arranging the elements of a photograph is your composition. City streets. this places impetus on gaining proficiency in not only technical prowess but also skillful composition. or framed and hung in a gallery or on the wall of a home. we typically have a single human subject. there is no set way to design an image. With an infinite number of compositional approaches. Nudes can be presented in a variety of venues: published in magazines. Some of the best photographers are self-styled. and calendars. A fantastic nude can capture the soul of its subject by sharing part of her emotional journey. what you may not know about innovative photographers is that they learned the rules before they began breaking them. the layperson may assume that only prurient interests are involved. and the difference is apparent in the reaction of an audience. This factor drives most nude compositions. and comfort and privacy concerns further limit your options. they bend the rules to create an image that is familiar enough to get our attention and groundbreaking enough to keep us looking. shadow. except perhaps those that are intended purely for record keeping. . As the process of photography has become easier and more automated. making it difficult for some to see the distinction between artistic vision and simple mimicry of reality. advertisers know the power that a great image of the nude body has on the viewer. struggled for acceptance as an art form. Almost all photographs are visual presentations. Without a score. I will use the term visual presentation to mean an image that is composed for the purpose of creating a pictorial statement. that is central to artistic merit. natural Why Learn Composition? Composition is the language of the visual artist. and nude photographers are subject to additional scrutiny. Knowing compositional principles establishes a foundation for visual communication. As soon as you intend to show a photograph to another person. Composition and design allow us to control the information expressed by photography. and sculptures since time immemorial. Another thing you may not know is that many interesting photographs neither follow nor break the rules. books. A well-executed nude photograph can be inspiringly beautiful. The mechanical medium of photography is well suited for scientific and documentary work. instead. In nude photography. Photographers of nudes sometimes feel that having a pretty model is the only ingredient for success. not choice of media. The oil painter will cobble together a soulless product unless she has a good composition. Today. and can be found in virtually any endeavor where the intention is for the viewer to be affected by a visual presentation. a chair. Vision is the primary sense through which we comprehend our world. Although there has been plenty of erotic art fashioned as drawings. why bother trying to learn it at all? Well. you have embarked on a journey likely to produce a visual presentation. commercial designers. an orchestra musician’s talent is useless. though it did not begin with photography. paintings. Photography has. Devoid of a story. Because they help advertisers to sell products. Props and background help to expand the compositional elements. Visual presentations allow us to express complex ideas with immense amounts of information. Unlike the rules of syntax and grammar. you may get the feeling that there are a limited number of poses and you have tried them all. For the photographer. it has become more accessible. Those who are educated about art know that it is the creator’s vision. whether you create it on purpose or let it happen by accident. After studying nude photography composition for a while. Every image has a composition. Artists have passed down compositional methods throughout the ages. and there has been a proliferation of photographers. Throughout this chapter. such as a scientific photograph. they are in the same predicament when they are without knowledge of composition. The motivation for producing a nude photograph can be aesthetic or commercial.3 Composition o form of art stands on technique alone. Light. composition is used not only by photographers and other artists but also by sign painters.
too many photographers do not look deeply enough. vision is the one that dominates our everyday lives. the more we know about visual awareness. Photography is a form of visual communication. there are only good photographs. palm. Much of it is symbolism and language. They are renderings. Hand C. but as it really is. each line should be a deliberate act of the artist. there is no right or wrong. Learning to draw will help you learn to see what is really there. However. or words on a page. Just as each hand is unique. When we see an image of a hand. knuckles. The four images above all evoke the same idea. B. though there are successes and failures. We are trained to connect what we see to language. but in a different way. So what use is it to a photographer to look so deeply at a subject? A photographer can point his/her camera at the subject to capture its unique qualities. This makes it all the more important that you not only know composition for nude photography but also learn to control it. we need to begin with visual literacy. The drawing (C) and the photograph (D) also symbolize a hand. shades.” But what else is there to that image? You can break it down into its basic elements: fingers. and so on. That perception begins with our eyes. that it is not. We are inundated with visual information. “There are no rules for good photographs. You have many choices among models. When it comes to photographs. you must look at it in terms of its actual characteristics: . intuitively. Beginning with Visual Literacy Before we can even begin to discuss composition. To learn how to form visual communication. too. The photograph. Visual communication is a broad term. In order to see an image as it really is. and thumb. hand. Ponder for a moment the difference between a symbol and a rendering. and so on—then you will have drawn a generic hand instead of the unique hand that is in front of you. but one you should enjoy. each model has his/her own characteristics that can be captured if you know how to look for them. the more we can appreciate composition. they end up producing nudes that lack nuance or sensitivity. It is a long journey. should have nothing left to chance. you will also learn to open your imagination to new photographic possibilities. various options for lighting. especially those of nudes. and so on. What Is Visual Communication? Of our five senses. D. and other breathtaking “ready-made” compositions are often off-limits to the nude photographer. Ansel Adams famously said. A symbol tells us to recall what we know about hands. The drawing has obvious intent. you can break it down further into parts: fingernails. The first two (A. As such. With such a limited range of compositional elements to choose from. we think of the word “hand. but the rest of us can improve our photography by learning about composition. angles of view. we need to forget about connecting the things we see to the words that represent them and instead study their unique visual characteristics. the shapes. the nude photographer must rely on a strong grasp of composition in order to set his/her photographs apart from the work of other photographers. Imagine creating a drawing of a hand with a pencil and paper. but each tells us something different about it. fingerprints. and colors assembled in their appropriate proportions. you begin to see it not as preconceived parts. Is this hand the same as every other hand you have seen? We know. we need to understand how the viewer will process it.” Just like with inspiration and technique. From there.4 Exquisite Curves phenomena. By learning composition. Some people are lucky enough to have the innate talent of knowing good composition when they see it. A. when you study the image deeply. Composition is one of the things you never stop learning. So why bother learning to notice details beyond the generic components? The answer is that without seeing your subject in terms of composition you do not know what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it. although this task is more difficult for photographers. but really occurs in our brains. To draw what is before you. B) are symbols of a hand. but a rendering gives us knowledge of a specific hand. Much like we enjoy a foreign movie more when we know the language in which it is spoken. If you just draw what you know about all hands— that they have fingers. fingernails. meaning transmission of comprehension through visual means. one linguistic and the other pictographic.
The left brain is analytical. but I can always tell which photographers started out in art school from the strong character of their compositions. but any pen and blank paper will do. To conquer this challenge. not a photograph of one. not in the way your eye sees it. it helps us to comprehend an image as what it represents. After you initially place your pen on the paper. With the advent of digital photography—first with scanning and then digital sensors—one needed software skills and a knowledge of the various hardware technology options. the upper left for example. photographers were chiefly right-brained individuals. then place your pen on the corresponding area of the paper. I do not suggest you go through the trouble of securing a live model for this exercise. Continue to follow the contour and interior lines of what you are studying. not how it looks or makes us feel. they notice that the wall is a few degrees off from vertical. Sperry (American. Some History The concept of right. Do not attempt to sneak a glimpse at the paper with your peripheral vision. gain new knowledge about how the brain works. I would suggest any photographer consider learning traditional art forms. which can be thought of as performing discrete tasks. or even dabble with it on your own. I do not expect many to have the patience or dedication to learn drawing and painting just to improve their photography. indeed. The result is selective vision. If you start elsewhere. Choose an object you want to draw. Do choose something sufficiently complex. you can still learn photographic composition. but can be a handicap to both the artist and the viewer. assemble a blank sheet of paper and a single writing implement. The purpose of this exercise is not to develop what is on the paper. This is the logical half of the brain. Foveal vision is what occurs at the center of the eye. Beginning with drawing will improve your photography. A half hour or more may be required to explore every minute detail of the object. The following is an exercise to develop your foveal vision. our eyes. move the pen to the left. Do not lift the pen until the end of the exercise. place your pen on the paper. Left Brain and Right Brain The brain is divided into two hemispheres. you will not look at the paper again until you finish the exercise. This analytical function helps you connect the dots and draw conclusions (or jump to them). The left brain tells you about the world. it recognizes and makes sense of objects. Actual brain function is more complex than assigning a role to each hemisphere. Instead. Learning to draw develops your foveal vision. What you draw will likely be unrecognizable. but in the way your brain quickly assumes that it exists. At the edge of the eyes is our peripheral vision. is capable of two kinds of vision: foveal and peripheral. In those times. but the left/right metaphor is a convenient way to learn to shift to more creative thinking and be less dominated by analytical thoughts. place your pen in the middle of the paper. Much has been learned about the brain since then. and may always continue to. vertical. It protects us from information overload. such as a garden plant or a building. Move your eyes freely over the object you are studying. It should be a physical object. You may wish to tape the paper down so that it will not move. The largest challenge most people will encounter in learning photographic composition is to change from thinking predominately with the left hemisphere of the brain to developing right-brain observational skills. If you do not want to take a drawing class. If your eyes move to the left. we would be overwhelmed. there were the days when one needed working knowledge of optics and darkroom chemistry. First. it is to develop the process of seeing your subject in greater detail by improving your foveal vision. It is not intended to be a representation of your subject. It is also where speech is centered and where we process our goals and our sense of productivity. It can be a pencil and sketchpad. With your eyes fixed on the object. In short. Most people are educated in matters that require left-brain function and have not yet developed their right-brain skills. When you look at a wall that is almost vertical. If we were to respond to every signal coming to the brain from the eye. but to see its abstract forms. your ability to concentrate on seeing detail. If your eyes start in the middle of the object. It involves seeing in detail. Exercise: Blind Line Drawing You do not need to be an artist to attempt this exercise. Even after the days when it was necessary to precisely mix potions and spread them on glass plates.and left-brain thinking was developed from the research in the late 1960s of the American psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Do not concern yourself with what you are drawing.Composition 5 Our visual apparatus. taking note of how long you can spend looking at the object. When someone who is trained to see as an artist looks at a wall that is almost vertical. only the parts that seem significant. the left hemisphere helps you to assume that it is. left and right. one needs to adapt one’s way of seeing. Let your pen follow the same path as your eyes. Not for what is represented by the content. but scientists continue to. like engineers and mathematicians. It used to be that photography was the domain of the scientifically inclined. 1913-1994). Repeat the exercise. that is. The left hemisphere is in charge of linear processing and analysis of symbols. The left brain is not aware of the margins of an image. in pursuit of faithful reproductions of .
The right brain is also where our emotions reside. and so on. Beauty is of no relevance to the left brain. set to just two colors. It is through your right brain that you can be spontaneous. Content is what people are normally conscious of when looking at a photograph. Abstract composition is the basic element of an image: the lights and darks. logic. It is what drives variety.6 Exquisite Curves reality. This is what allows us to make an “animal” out of a balloon. “Where is the rest of her leg?” and “Why is this shorter than that?” Without left-brain processing. such as the shapes. and risky. When you hear “abstract composition. No image can be more than its abstract composition. The third rendition (C) identifies implied shapes and . it is doubly important that photographers develop their powers of observation. Most people. especially when the subject is an attractive physique. This was done in Photoshop. Painters work hard to develop their right-brain powers of observation because they know it will help them improve their compositional skills. and deductive reasoning. The left hemisphere is in charge of analytical thought or the meaning of things. The right hemisphere allows us to see things as they actually appear. You had to understand exponents to get the exposure correct. abstract forms are overlooked by the untrained eye. several hazards arise that endanger our compositions. This hemisphere can process information randomly. In the following image (A). Abstract forms are distinct from content and the ideas they may represent. Free association is controlled by the right brain. Abstract forms comprise the structure of a visual presentation. The arrangement of abstract forms is composition. as is the joy of textural and tactile experiences. The left brain asks questions like. only discipline. lines. whether they are creating paintings or photographs. the artist overlooks distracting contextual elements. math. jumping from one thought to another. The first step in overcoming left-brain dominance is to realize that it exists and then to practice right-brain function. This is something that art students learn. When we photograph a scene. composition reigns. Any image can be reduced to its basic compositional elements. Succumbing to selective vision means overlooking critical compositional elements. Visual memory is also stored in the right brain. If one happened to possess landmark creativity also. think of a round area of skin tone. you can begin to analyze visual input with respect to a right-brain approach. It is where musicians get their sense of rhythm and where artists connect images with feelings. You may say. are the abstract forms. These give you your ability to create a composite image from elements that do not have any real relation to the final image. Nonrepresentational means without meaning. areas of color. For this reason. is responsible for daydreaming and for processing color. you can see abstract forms within a photograph. like texture. When a right-brained person looks at an image. interesting images. a framework from which it cannot escape regardless of the subject matter. we can identify the basic compositional elements by replacing them with solid areas of color (B). There is much benefit to understanding this premise. distracting backgrounds. It is the answer to the question. This literal content consists of known characteristics and relies on the viewer to interpret the representations within the visual presentation. a painter can create from his/her mind’s eye and never notice what he/she missed when observing the scene. I will show you how to start identifying abstract forms and how this way of thinking can help you to become a better photographer. using the Posterize filter on the figure area. That is. impulsive. The theoretical components of a visual presentation. purely analytical types still gravitate towards photography. Photographers do not share this benefit. rules. There may even be elements of the image that exist after finishing the presentation that remain unnoticed by its creator. Good abstract composition leads to compelling.” Basic means without particulars. lines. whether we notice it or not. digital photography has opened up to purely creative types who may not know a CMOS sensor from a low-pass filter. especially those dealing in the visual arts.” But abstract forms are the foundation of all visual composition.” think “basic. It is difficult for us to forget what we are photographing. and the way these are arranged. everything is recorded. When we forget to see the entire scene. areas of texture. Abstract Forms versus Content Representational content is the part of a visual presentation that gives it a literal meaning and information about the subject matter. These are called lateral connections rather than logical connections. have seen “abstract art”—nonrepresentational images of color and shapes. Just as you are able to see animals in the clouds. “I’m not an abstract artist. I deal in realism. and awkward aspects of the pose. time-based events. When a left-brained person looks at an image. So instead of a face. Symbolic representations are in the domain of left-brained persons. it made a powerful combination. Despite the leveled playing field. Your composition is the skeleton of your image. But painters have the luxury of unconscious omission. nonrepresentational parts. Now beyond its nascence. I’m a photographer. You need the left brain to follow instructions. As you read this book. “What is this photograph of?” Representational content can often be more easily expressed in words than can abstract forms. categories. The right brain gives us the holistic ability to recognize intuitive (not logical) similarities between disparate entities and assemble them into new forms. colors. context is supreme. The artist must develop his/her right-brain function in order to see composition as it truly exists.
All book photos can be downloaded. Use drafting tape to secure the corners of the tracing paper over the source image and draw it upside down as previously described. lines they define. Either display the inverted digital image next to your drawing window or affix a printed image. upside down. without taking mental shortcuts. If you are not comfortable with your drawing skills. If possible. B. and their role in composition. a sketchpad. Your image should be approximately the same size as your sketchpad. A quick trick for identifying abstract composition amongst a set of shots is to look at them in thumbnail mode on your computer or camera. lines. Nude Figure. and an image to copy. next to your monitor. The exercise is easy to conduct. Spend a minimum amount of time looking at the right-side-up image.Composition 7 A. we will expand on the concepts of abstract shapes. concentrate on the forms and lines. have a partner select your image so you never see the image right-side-up. Abstracted forms of the same nude. A well-composed image should “jump out” at you even when viewed in a small scale. Abstracted forms. and lines they imply. Throughout this section. See page 112. If you perform the digital version of this exercise. you can substitute tracing paper for the sketch pad. an eraser. An image with a figure in it is recommended. . You will need an artist’s pencil(s). you can trace over the digital image. A tablet is preferable to a mouse for this. is to copy an image that is upside down. Do not try to recognize the content of the image. Place the image upside down and copy its contours and other major compositional elements onto your paper. an image from a magazine will suffice. Exercise: Upside-Down Drawing An exercise that is used to teach art students to see things as they really are. If you do not have access to an art image. C. I suggest you choose something that you know is well composed: a masterpiece of photography or painting. lines.
This kind of screen is found on view cameras. and depth of an object. make an additional copy of the drawing rightside-up and compare it to your upside-down performance. Your copy should include fewer assumptions about your subject and be a more accurate rendering than if you had a more recognizable subject. you can start to develop a personal style. values. a model can draw attention to the lines of the figure. Lines. If you doubt that you are seeing your subject more objectively. any edge or limb that implies a direct path between two points can be interpreted as a straight line. Strong lines are powerful compositional elements that suggest to the viewer where they will look. Mastering composition is one of the more difficult and most powerful aspects of producing meaningful nude photographs. each layer of knowledge is dependent on the one under it for stability.8 Exquisite Curves Another variation is to draw a five-by-five grid over the source image and draw a similar grid on your paper or graphics window. remember that the drawing is still to be upside down. What you see is the image projected by the camera’s lens. Just like the tiers of a pyramid. is at times called a line of force. The use of lines is an effective way to add structure to an image. It has been regularly noted that a photographer who uses a focusing screen which renders an upside-down image has an advantage. This pyramid illustrates the layers of knowledge that lead to developing your artistic style. Once you have completed the upside-down copy. The upside-down image forces the photographer to break out of his or her instinctively selective vision. or leading line. These cameras lack the mirror and prism that turn an image right-side-up. especially at the edge of the subject seen against the background and in the limbs. think of how a mime communicates the location of phantom objects by reacting as though they were present. but it is rare to have a perfectly straight line. Through gesture. A single point. you must first understand these most basic elements. The elements of composition are the first of five building blocks. Lines can be definite. width. Although two points can imply a line between them. This allows one to notice subtle design components and distracting elements that will allow them to make better compositional decisions. turn both images right-side-up. guiding line. To get there. such as the edge of the body. such as a distinct horizon or roadway. such as the iris of the eye. illusions of depth and time. or compositional elements. When using the grid method. mass. colors. three points in alignment make a much stronger suggestion of a line. Lines are apparent in the distinction between light and dark. Elements are combined according to principles. you can learn the methods and begin to create your own designs. This illustration (A) shows the process through which these concepts build upon each other to reach an ultimate goal of a personal style. each a prelude to the next. Most dimensional elements in figure photography are straight lines and curves. or implicit. To understand an imaginary line. A dominant line that draws our eye. can also be a dimensional element. Once you have experimented with designs. However. Line and Dimension Dimension is the concept of defining the height. such as the imaginary line between two distinct points of interest. Elements of Composition Discovering how to analyze the formal aspects of a work of art begins with a basic discussion of the visual elements. The image at the top of the next page (B) contains implied lines. Compare your drawing to the original. culminating in the creation of an individual style. Any one-dimensional element that has the psychological effect of implying direction functions as a compositional line. A. . A line is termed a one-dimensional element. After that. and anything else that guides the eye through a photograph are part of its composition. In nude photography there are plenty of curves. The grid makes it easier because you are copying the drawing as twenty-five parts instead of all at once.
or perpendicular. there are plenty of lines. The spine in this photograph is an example of an interior contour. angle. vertical lines give a feeling of animation and loftiness. Any wide sloping line that is slightly off kilter with the imagined horizon can give the photograph an unstable or accidental feel. intersecting. Even when the earth’s horizon is not in a picture. . If you are feeling handcuffed to outdoor compositions that include a horizontal line running smack through the middle of each frame. Interior lines have relationships with one another and relationships with the framing lines of the image area. The angle of the leg and the forearm in this image imply a line (green dots). They can be described as long. It can be obscured by your subject if you get in close enough. This runs the risk of distracting the viewer if the sloped horizon is not the strongest possible choice for the design. short. An interior photograph can be anchored with this familiar concept. It enters the image where we expect it to. The outside of the body is defined by lines of contour. None of these terms apply to a single line. each is applicable to at least a pair of lines. Remember that the edges of the image area form four lines. your angle of view can be shifted up or down to avoid having the horizon bisect your image. they appear in landscape and if you photograph outdoors. such as major muscle groups or the spine. chances are you will have a horizon line. lateral lines give a feeling of rest and stability.Composition 9 there are ways to move or eliminate the horizon. Relationships between lines can be described as diagonal. It usually just establishes the context of the scene’s space. The concept of diagonals pervades many of the discussions in the rest of this chapter. Alternately. Lines can be described in terms of length. Diagonals Diagonal lines are more exciting than horizontal or vertical ones because they defy cultural paradigms of reading left/right or up/down. a horizontal line that extends from edge to edge of the frame will remind the viewer of the natural horizon. but takes off in an unexpected direction. B. similar to a standing figure. C. we are apt to imagine one (pink dots). The tendency is to want to see a perfectly horizontal horizon. Interior contours of the subject. A horizon line is often assigned little importance by the viewer unless it has something unusual about it. two parallel sets that are perpendicular to each other. relation to other lines. oblique. You may wish to slant the horizon for compositional reasons. There are also lines of interior contours: the spine and ribs. Even if there is no natural horizon. Photographers may end up with a slanted horizon due to either being in an excited hurry or extreme lens distortion. A diagonal entering from the upper left is more exciting to the Western culture. Terrain like trees and hills can break up the line. or any of a number of characteristics. Conversely. bisecting. The limbs create definite lines. also create prominent compositional lines. Lines are fundamental to our world. parallel. The eye instinctively follows lines. and relation to other elements in the picture. parallel. In the image below (C). These flat. perpendicular.
imply an imaginary intersection beyond their end points? If so. which are lines that intersect or seem like they will intersect other lines. take care that you do not use radiating lines in such a way that they accidentally lead the eye out of the composition. or diagonal? Are they parallel or do they intersect? Are there any lines that B. or diagonal. Although convergence is a more likely interpretation.10 Exquisite Curves Diagonal versus Oblique In general parlance. (See photograph B. the atypical structure can be attention grabbing. The lower edge of the back railing lines up with the model’s arm and the upper edge lines up with her elbow. including the edges of the image. Curved Lines Lines do not have to be straight. draw the eye toward the point of intersection. Oblique lines.) These are common in people’s bodies. they can echo the shape of one another. Parallel lines are a form of repetition. Lines form relationships with the picture frame (the edges of the photograph). It will take some practice by both model and photographer to create such rectilinear elements from our organic subject. the lines of perspective converge on the model. A diagonal runs between nonadjacent corners of a shape. would the intersection appear within the picture frame or outside of it? The term irregular lines refers to interconnected segments of various line types. We will use the word diagonal when referring to a line that extends from one or more points along the contours of a shape or the image frame. we will make a distinction. In the image above (A). below. Flowing lines of hair or cloth can imply energy or movement. The relationship between lines in a photograph can be used to create interest. though. horizontal. When the body is posed to create straight lines and right angles. They can be horizontal. instead of the corner of a shape. diagonal and oblique mean the same thing. especially at sharp angles. Converging lines. Why Lines Are Important to Composition Lines within a visual presentation form relationships with one another. The edges of the slab on which she is lying line up with the interior lines of her figure. When formed by arms and legs. Are they vertical. When you look at an image. The most prominent is created by the bending red ribbon and includes the wave through the hair. Two lines that are neither perpendicular nor parallel form an oblique angle. Notice how the lines align with the lines of the body. When a model moves or when wind blows the elements in the scene. For our purposes. The more lines converging on a single point. the more interest is driven by the arrow-like formations. lines can be parallel or perpendicular. vertical. tracing the shape of a circle inside another circle. This could be the diagonal that bisects the picture frame or it could halve an interior shape. A. This echoed curve could be created when a model stretches her arms out parallel and then curves them both in the same direction. the . Oblique lines can be seen as converging (inward) or radiating (outward). notice the lines. We will reserve the term oblique to describe a diagonal line that intersects the middle of another line. Although curved lines cannot be parallel. This image contains a multitude of irregular lines.
where they meet is a common contour defining both the edge of the body and of the arm. For example. shapes. This is partly described by a phenomenon called the Mach effect (Figure D). also relate to each other. circles. squares. does not form a line. and philosopher who first described it. Shapes are formed by the contours and limbs of the model's body. This shading is an optical illusion. separated by negative space. flowing lines of the female form often have a relaxed. An s-curve resembles rolling hills. Positive (subject) and negative (background) shapes that are adjacent are one kind of fit. it reminds us of nature. such as triangles. comforting quality. but they appear within the body as well. psychologist. Where two shapes share the same contour is called a common contour. because the edge of the arm does not line up with another edge. occurring only in our minds. This is a purely perceptual effect. or the implication of it. D. A lean body with defined muscles can create serpentine (snaking back and forth) lines when lit correctly (C). geometric shapes. implied shape. it can mimic nature. an s-curve to the body can be reproduced in the scenery to incorporate repetition into the composition. However. When portrayed correctly. can be definite or implied. where a band of shading is seen along the edge of the contour. A couple of the more active ones are highlighted. and ellipses. we will define a contour as a sharp edge between two distinct colors or tones. Similar to lines. our brains easily recognize anything resembling a perfect shape. Shapes After lines. Where two tones come together. This image contains a multitude of serpentine lines. can be captured in the photograph. termed a gradation. The exact amount of back and forth movement that qualifies it as an active line is hard to pin down because it is subjective. two-dimensional shapes are the next dimensional element. such as circles and triangles. An s-curve is a type of irregular line with powerful eyecatching ability and is particularly noteworthy in that it appears on multiple scales of the body. Some irregular lines may undulate in an active way. garner much less attention. An arm placed across the middle of a model’s abdomen does not create a common contour. But multiple shapes in the foreground.Composition 11 motion. (For more information. although plentiful. C. A line that zigzags is occasionally called an active line because it draws attention to itself. 1838-1916). our mind perceives an extra bit of separation beyond the measurable visual data. if a model has her arm along the side of her body. For our purposes. Irregular shapes. Our minds are trained to recognize primitive. In the studio. A model skilled at posing can create energetic lines with her body. the mind can complete the When considering shapes. The Mach effect: the thin light bands along the inside limit of the gradients and the thin dark bands along the outer limit of the gradients are optical illusions. When combining the figure with nature. We say sharp because a gradual transition. Although a model will rarely form perfect geometric shapes. Contours are the lines that define the bounds of shapes. if the arm is under . the physicist. named after Ernst Mach (Austrian. also consider how they fit with each other. The soft. When most of a shape is expressed. see “Negative and Positive Space” on page 33). while others may meander quite lazily.
it can give us a tactile feeling that is related to how two objects relate to each other. who made one of the first mentions of geometry and proportion with relation to the body. or an imaginary line serving as the third. Compound shapes are formed by the combination of geometric objects. Leonardo Da Vinci’s (Italian. a person’s arm span is ideally six times the length of his/her foot and the same as the person’s height. the separation between a lit area and a hard shadow is an example (Figure A). Triangles Given our anatomy. inventor. c. like the profile of a pyramid. He produced a good deal of work on proportion.12 Exquisite Curves the edge of her breasts. and scientist whose works. The circle is aligned with the base of the square on which the figure's feet rest.C. 5th to 14th centuries). Trios of elements imply a triangle. This kind of line can be a powerful visual tool for influencing the viewer. In some cases. implied triangles are characteristically formed with our limbs providing two sides and the body. they do share a contour. One type of ambiguous common contour is a background object that seems to interact with the model. Leonardo understood that when the body is portrayed in correct proportion. Shape History Artists have long used regular shapes (also known as Euclidean polygons. such as triangles. For example. He studied the human body extensively for a better understanding of how to include it in artworks. 1452—1519) Vitruvian Man is an example of geometry applied to the human proportion in two poses. An equilateral . it is aesthetically pleasing. Artists from Classical Greece (c. such as the Mona Lisa. 5th to 4th centuries B. pentagons. The model’s upper thigh and the top of the rock share a common contour. and the Renaissance (c. and so on) in their compositions. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man is named after Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (Roman. The few geometric shapes that we do see are implied by parts of the body that come close enough to a shape to be interpreted as such. a wall. squares. A triangle implies stability when resting on its base. A. 14th to 17th centuries) have latched onto geometric shapes to anchor their visual presentations. B. Triangles can also have connotations of power and strength. the shapes represent something three-dimensional. especially those that are sharp like an arrowhead. we see few geometric shapes. Parts of the body echo geometric forms. A common contour does not need to define physical edges. When dealing with the body. are today revered for their intellectual and artistic innovation.). Learn to see photographs in terms of two-dimensional shapes in addition to the three-dimensional objects they portray. In the case of physical edges. the ground.C. 75 B. octagons. the ratios of one body part to another. that is. 15 B. Although photographs are two-dimensional. Leonardo was an Italian Renaissance artist. hexagons. .). One that is not at rest can imply motion. Natural shapes that are not geometric are called biomorphic or organic shapes.c. another straight surface. it can create an intriguing ambiguity.C. the Middle Ages (c. Let us say you photograph a model with a large object behind her and her hands positioned to appear as if she is holding the object. The drawing is of a male figure with arms and legs extended to touch the edges of a square that also touches the top of the head and repositioned to touch a circle.
fallen. E. A horizontal rectangle evokes thoughts of a prone human: restful.Composition 13 triangle can imply perfection. They have been used to represent anything cyclical. Crop the circle with the picture frame (E). . D. the circle arrangement is the dominant shape. such as the seasons. A vertical rectangle can allude to the characteristics of a standing person. F. Michelangelo could draw a perfect circle freehand. Rectangles Rectangles bear a faint echo of the shape of the human body. When one looks at Stonehenge. A bicycle tire forms a circle in this image. A circle does not have to be an unbroken object like a wheel. They are often symbolic of life or the life-giving force of the egg. and Holy Spirit. it can be a ring of objects. C. A circle over a person’s head has long represented a halo. although it is made of rectangular blocks. Son. Circles have a long and powerful history in art. An implied rectangle. Artists have used the triangle for thousands of years as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity: the Father. Circles A circle is a complete shape that lacks tension and can lose the viewer’s interest (Figure D). achieved through deliberate posing and camera position. Breaking the circle is a solution. commanding our attention and appearing stable and active. Triangles are commonly formed by limbs that intersect the body or other limbs. The eye recognizes a circle from just about any angle. An example of conforming the body to a circle.
Brightness can also be called tone. When analyzing the values in a scene or composition. the result is called a tertiary color. and blue light waves all cast on an object in equal amounts. the primary colors of red. Saturation is the intensity of a color. Turning the camera perpendicular to the subject creates a framing that emphasizes the sense of space around the model. you know the primary hues to be red. also called value or luminance. (See Figure B. one of these values. followers of this paradigm must learn new primary colors when dealing with photography: red. This is how computer screens and televisions work. a secondary color is formed. using just a few colors of ink in varying combinations. green. squares are a form of rectangle. The brightness of a color refers to its value. The images on this page are rendered in a similar way. By definition. while colors low in saturation are called drab. Color There are millions of colors that can be captured by the camera’s sensor. and blue. or subtle. whether they are in color or black and white. Squares Squares are stable. white light. squares have biaxial symmetry (symmetrical on both horizontal and vertical axes). and red and green mix to form yellow.14 Exquisite Curves The most forgotten rectangle in composition is the picture frame. but most people can give distinct names to fewer than a hundred of them. When dealing with light. Hue indicates the wavelength of the color. Paint or pigments follow subtractive color. green. When two primary colors are mixed. Abstract forms should be analyzed in terms of their monochromatic values before their hue is considered. the effect is neutral. blue and red make magenta. Used in varying combinations. it is this difference that accounts for the differing primary colors. A. yellow. We describe color in terms of hue. A Plexiglas rectangle lit by a gelled boom spot. and blue can create a full range of colors. this does not include squares. Photographs. In a cruel twist of fate. is the lightness or darkness of a color. vertical for a standing model) will bring about a sense of harmony. Use of values is described later in this book under “The Zone System” on page 65. on the next page. or. leaving square compositions tensionless unless other elements throw them off balance.g. green. This can be a gray card or a color chart. For the sake of clarity. and blue. the most expensive of which aim to help Value (Brightness) Brightness. you are considering only the information that would be in a black and white version of it. Warm colors. we are dealing with additive color. When a primary and secondary color mix. with white being the brightest and black being the least bright. when we speak of rectangles in an image. In strictly geometric terms. Highly saturated colors can be described as neon or vivid. such as red and yellow. If you mix all three in unequal amounts. saturation. When pure red. in other words. orienting it with your subject (e. The vast range of possible colors and the subtle differences between them is lost on many nascent photographers. Without going into too much of a physics lesson. additional colors are made. Specialized color charts range in price and usefulness. are made up of values that range from white to black.) To achieve color accuracy. restful. many photographers will photograph a color reference. Other words for saturation include chroma and intensity. The idea of monochromatic images predates photography. the square can be simulated with careful posing or the model can be fit into a square framing. Every color imaginable corresponds to . meaning that their color is determined by what wavelengths of light they absorb (subtract) with the balance being reflected. If you are familiar with mixing color using paint. Green and blue make cyan. where it falls on the spectrum of the rainbow. are composed of longer wavelengths. and brightness. soft. Rare in nature.
a fact that was known prior to Newton. Even if your final image is an 8-bit JPG for the screen. . There are many different kinds of RGB. The range of colors that a color space can hold is called its gamut. but that still does not let you see all of the colors that you are editing in ProPhoto RGB. There is no perfect color space. if you aspire to print your images well or if you want to take full advantage of editing possibilities. abbreviated as RGB. ProPhoto RGB is generally preferred by expert image editors. B. 16431727) determined that white light is made up of different colors all mixed together. but it does a good job of recording most of the subtleties you can perceive. and you do not do a lot of editing. you are likely to be using a monitor that cannot display all of the colors that you are editing. sRGB is the c ol or sp ac e d is p l ay ed b y y o ur c om p ut er monitor. The photographs with the reference chart in them should be the first images that you process to establish a workflow for the rest of the images in the session. developed by Kodak. Here is where it gets interesting and. called color spaces. the larger gamut will give you more latitude to produce the results you desire. and moving between them requires understanding how each color space works. You will also want to edit your images in at least 16-bit depth rather than 8-bit. If all of your photographs are destined for the electronic screen. However. But take heart. and blue. See page 112. but he was the first to discover that the colors created exist inherently in white light and do not come from the prism itself. also called aRGB. you can open the 16-bit ProPhoto RGB file. then there is not much more for you to learn. If you print the file. Just because you choose ProPhoto RGB does not mean that your color space worries are over. Layered Photoshop file with original. C. The bottom line is that you want to preserve as much of the image information as you may need later. green. but not as much as ProPhoto RGB. Cameras can capture more colors than computer monitors can display. as we will conclude this technical note with a shortcut for those who want to expend less effort. Some History Isaac Newton (English.Composition 15 calibrate hard-to-reproduce colors. You have a choice of color spaces in the setting of your camera and editing software. you should preserve as much color detail as possible by learning about color spaces. too complicated for comfort. for some. Whether in print or on screen. unless you spend a bundle on one that can display most of the Adobe RGB color space. it is best to retain all of the details until you export the JPG. all images are made up of tiny dots of primary color. The color reference should be rephotographed any time you make significant changes to lighting or camera position. secondary. because its gamut contains more colors than the other color spaces. Primary. Technical Note: Digital Color Space Now you know the primary colors of light are red. and tertiary colors on an RGB color wheel. Your camera sensor cannot capture the billions of visible colors. You can separate these colors using a prism. Remember that your monitor only displays the small gamut of sRGB. not print. Adobe RGB. If you ever revisit the image to tweak the editing. has a larger gamut than sRGB. or you will no t be taking full advantage of the larger color space.
A RAW image captures more tonal range than a JPG. If you are not much of a perfectionist. Color space only comes into play when you open the file in image editing software and a profile is assigned to it. the right end is white. The concept is similar to the zone system (see “The Zone System” on page 65). Therefore. many photographers deal with their images in sRGB. B. green. Other color spaces: You may encounter Apple RGB. They just have the electronic data from the image sensor. An underexposed image will have no data at the right end. There is no color space associated with a RAW file. So what if you do not want to agonize over all of that? Well. Recomm e n de d f o r i n t e r m e d i a t e p ho to g r a p he r s needing print quality. The height of the bars indicates the number of pixels at each tonal level. Black is on the left end of the scale and white is on the right. the histogram can tell you about monochromatic data or data for all color channels. It is a bar chart of the data captured for all the tones in an image. or with editing software after copying the image to a computer. you can always learn color management later when you want to hone your skills. the left end represents black. we will assume you are looking at the histogram in your camera and that it will be of the RAW image data.16 Exquisite Curves If you are serious about your photography and you have read this far. Recommended starting place for easy. In a histogram. at least not as you would think of it. let us assume that you are shooting RAW format. Plus. Recommended for advanced photographers performing extensive color work for print. An overexposed image will have no data at the left end of the histogram. ProPhoto RGB: Preferred color space for those needing exacting reproduction because its gamut contains more colors than other color spaces. ColorMatch RGB. three grayscale images of red. Depending on settings. and blue. Your images do not record color data. The tonalities in a histogram are often expressed in terms of RGB values ranging from 0 to 255. Adobe RGB: Has a significantly larger color gamut. Approximates what many computer monitors display. Three recommended color gamuts and their relative sizes. and Wide Gamut RGB. and never look back. nor is any of them recommended. The height of the bars indicates how much of each particular tone exists in the image. None of these is widely used. Some high-end computer monitors display nearly all of this color gamut. with zero being black and 255 being white. What you see is what you will get. For our immediate purposes. You can view a histogram in your camera after exposing an image. not a JPG. What Are Histograms? A histogram (Figure B) is a way to check the exposure of an image. ignore other color spaces. but a histogram shows you more than eleven tones from black to white. they are not sRGB or aRGB. A. you probably will not even notice the difference. predictable results. Summary and Recommendations sRGB: Does not use any color management and has the smallest color gamut. .
and oranges. winter means a dark and desperate time. It is unlikely that any two people will assign the same meanings to colors. In America. Warm colors are thought of as lively. red can mean passion. Next is an exercise that will help you move towards this. In some climates. Unsaturated oranges and browns begin to look like rust. On skin. Warm colors are lively and tend to project. “Blue is soothing. Purple is traditionally the color of royalty. Vivid cool colors would range from green and turquoise through cyan. We all see the same sky and sun and experience the color shifts of the seasons. Blue hues imply feelings of cold temperature or cold personalities. In some cultures. not individual colors. Warm skin looks fit and relaxed. red implies something fast. 1. lest it becomes too saturated and crosses over into jaundice territory. and greens are cool colors. They provoke thoughts of heat. can impart a sense of energy.1 Red surrounding a person can also make them look more appealing. water. the bias of the viewer's culture affects how colors are interpreted. the color of shadows. is from time to time shown wearing yellow in Christian art. passion. This distinction is paramount to understanding color combinations. Blue on skin can look cold. and your consistent use of color can become part of crafting a recognizable style. Splatters of dark red will often be interpreted as blood. favored by Roman emperors. This works to your advantage. while warm colors include reds. and saturation of a color influence how we perceive it. Yellow seems sunny and bright. Vivid and contrasting colors. Yellow can also stand for Easter.Composition 17 Color Interpretation Color has psychological and perceptual aspects that affect how we feel about what we see. Some people prefer to subdivide the colors further into vivid and deep hues. the distinction depends on the image in question and the technique used. Blue can represent air. et al. The warm/cool color wheel. and highly personal. Gray can lack emotion and be more serious. the amount in which they are used and their juxtaposition. or sickly. it can mean purity. it is associated with death. The amount of amber color that you would see just before sunset defines the natural limit of warmth you can safely apply to skin tones. The warm/cool color wheel (C) should not be confused with wheels that illustrate the physical relationship of primary colors (page 15). appear closer. balanced by cool shadows on the other. sad. especially warm ones. But it can also represent nature or spring. in China. Black and white makes nudes instantly seem more like fine art to a casual observer.” Color carries with it a mix of culture-specific and universal connotations. probably due to the extreme difficulty and cost of producing the pigment in ancient times. it is the combination of colors. Green can look sickly. it can be uplifting instead of saddening. while in others. Bright reds can look active. Stephen. Some colors demand our attention. betrayer of Jesus. Your artistic style is a personal language. Blues. Judas Iscariot. while in others. bright colors tend to project forward and drab colors tend to fade into the distance. Light blues may not be as serious as dark blues in the background. situational. can give the impression of a rising or setting sun. Many photographers have signature pairings of colors and sentiments. Yellow became an English synonym for cowardice/cowardly because of its links to disease. Blue on skin can imply a vibrant personality or a lifeless corpse. If it is a light blue sky. A warmly lit figure against a subtle. Also see “Monochrome” on page 63. Deep warm colors would be from red through magenta and violet. . Color interpretation is cultural. or sadness. whereas deep cool colors would be blues and purples. yellows. Colorless processes can either give an image timeless nobility or rob it of vitality. Talk to an artist about color and they may tell you. brightness. A warm glow on one side of the model. depending on the hue. though. cool backdrop can impart a natural feeling of tranquility and well-being. with warm and friendly implications. The most basic color interpretation is dividing colors into warm and cool. that imparts emotion. winter is a welcome break from oppressive heat. Cool colors are relaxing and tend to recede from our attention. The redness of blood in the skin makes people look healthy. or dead on skin. The hue. As part of building your own style. Orange hues begin to shift to skin tones. yellow looks healthy to a degree. purples. brightness. Vivid warm colors would be from yellow through orange and red. or evoke a specific emotion. To a lesser extent. decaying. A naturally tan model will yield more believable warm tones than a pale one under the same yellow light. In many ways. think about what connotations specific colors bring to you. Moreover. white is purity. and saturation of blue that you choose and what other colors and visual cues are mixed into the composition. C. and the desire to be seen.
Tweaking Skin Color in Photoshop Ideally. Color correction can be made easier by using the settings in Adobe Camera RAW or similar software. use a felttipped marker to write on the back. Do not write a noun. for light blue you might write “calm” or “happy.” A Y value of about 15 points more than the M value is typical for many of the skin tones I shoot. Examine the CMY values of the model’s skin tones using Photoshop’s Eyedropper tool and Info palette. so there is no single “skin tone. I do not try to make final adjustments to skin tone during Camera RAW import. If the swatches come more than one to a sheet. balance. After you turn over a piece. Set the color temperature. For the marked group. A. Check the color again. you should have more than one color of blue. Label each one with a word that describes how you feel about the color. Hover the Eyedropper tool (set to about 11x11 in size) over the skin. 3. look at the color and think of the feeling it brings to mind. you probably won't end up with perfect recall. use a marker to obscure the name. One group will be marked colors and the other will be unmarked. It will also depend on the degree of complexity associated with the swatches you choose. You will have to learn each model’s skin.0 is unaltered). the following should render nice skin tones. turn over one of the unmarked pieces. Keep your image in RGB mode. and tint. Try repeating the exercise with a partner and see how well you do at matching his/her color interpretations. Locate the word in the marked group that corresponds to the feeling and turn the piece over. You will need at least twelve colors. taking note of whether they match. if the M says “50. when seen from the back. Skin Tones No discussion of color in the context of nude photography would be complete without addressing skin tones. Most digital shots will tend to give skin a blue to reddish tint. although more are preferable. Cut them uniformly so that. B. To make it challenging. But if you find yourself needing a minor adjustment to a JPG. Separate the colors into two groups.95 or 0. The CMYK values are expressed as values from 0 to 100 for every pixel in your image. In other words. Check with the Eyedropper and compare to the tables (C. you will need a pair of identical swatches. such as the ones used in paint stores. only set the Eyedropper tool to CMYK to take a reading. The marked group should have a word on the back of each one.97 for a minor adjustment (1. and drop the mid range down to about 0. These are just starting points.” but do not write “sky” or “robin’s egg. If you choose a dozen kinds of green. Add yellow if needed. For example. There is no magic bullet for dealing with skin tones. If the colors have names written on them. Go to the blue levels control. more Y than M. without access to the RAW image. D) on the next page. carefully cut them apart. you should have good skin tones if you have a reference shot with a calibration card in it. Read up on the eyedropper tool if you are not familiar with it. some of the colors should be similar. color temperature is expressed in degrees Kelvin and used to set white balance. 4.” Lay the pieces color-side down in the two groups. You want natural-looking skin tones for your models. so that each group has only one piece of each color. Easily Confused Do not confuse the warm/cool colorwheel with the RGB colorwheel used in imaging software. Place the pieces aside together. 1. There are as many skin tones as there are people.” Choose what is most pleasing for the image at hand. 2. Some parts of the same person are pinker or yellower. The terms warm and cool are used to describe hue. and correct for any mixed lighting. From the Layers menu. For example. even if it is not an exact match for your model’s true skin tone. The other group should be blank on the back. depending on factors such as sun exposure. For each color. make a levels adjustment layer.” then the Y should be around “65. there are no clues to distinguish the pieces. . One by one. You should have more yellow than magenta.18 Exquisite Curves Exercise: Color Interpretation Obtain several pairs of color swatches. Your success will depend on how strong and consistent your color associations are.
they influence how both colors are perceived. Blues and purples behind a subject can make them look warm by comparison.E. African Skin Common Color Components D. A reference shot is an easy way to get the color right. *Dark Caucasian skin can have a yellow value equal to or only a couple of points higher than the magenta value. A medium value looks darker against a light background and lighter against a dark background. placing it between 15 and 45. 25 ~ 40 C x (1. Feel free to experiment. . 1789—1889). Yellow should be about 5 to 15 points higher than magenta*. Skin tones cover a wide range of colors.Composition 19 Caucasian Skin Common Color Components C. but save a file with natural looking skin for comparison and perform a reality check before considering an over-filtered image to be your final product.5 ~ 2) E. F. Yellow can be anywhere from 10 to 35 points higher than magenta. D. but typically falls in the 70-85 range. C M Cyan should be between about 25 and 40. C M Cyan should be between about 7 and 22. In this book. placing it between 37 and 80. Historical Note on Color Contrast M. A bright color against a drab background appears more vivid than if it were mixed amongst other colors. A body against a warm background of a similar tonal value tends to merge with it. Color Combinations Our impression of color is determined by the juxtaposition of the colors around it. Y M + (10 ~ 35) Skin that is a little too warm is often more pleasing to look at than skin that is too cool. However. 7 ~ 22 C x (2. Chevreul (French.5 to 2 times the cyan value.5 ~ 3) Y M + (5 ~ 15) *Asian and Hispanic skin typically has a yellow value about 8 to 18 points higher than the magenta value. do not overdo it. Attempting to compensate for a model with pale skin by giving them a “Photoshop tan” can bring about disastrous results. Sampling skin color. a chemist. Magenta is typically 1. Magenta is typically 2 to 3 times the cyan value. he explains that when two colors are placed together. published The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors and Their Applications to the Arts.
In the images at the top of the page (A). Against the cream-colored background. especially when they are high in saturation. the golden yellow almost blends in because they are close B. But this human mechanism can be fooled. This is because the hues are opposites and the tones contrast.20 Exquisite Curves A. This is another example of the Mach effect. saturation. The yellow stands out brightly against the dark purple around it. we base it on the surrounding colors. Colors opposite on the color wheel stand out and can create discord. This chameleon-like behavior from a continuous color is due to the way our minds interpret color. it is best that two-color schemes be proportioned other than 50/50. in hue. it appears darker against the light background and lighter against the dark background. however. the center figure of each pair is the same color. C) exist across from each other on warm/cool color wheel. although there are only two colors present. There are various approaches of devising color schemes. but a designer can also vary the saturation and brightness of the colors in the scheme. Notice how the center color looks different depending on the color that surrounds it. Color schemes use the warm/cool color wheel (see page 17). A set of colors combined for a purpose is called a color scheme. As with all dichotomies. You should see a narrow band of additional color. Color schemes are based on varying hues. dramatic effects. Analogous colors (Figure D. Complementary colors are effective at pitting warm and cool colors against one another. as you have seen by the images in this section. the figure is the same tone from head to toe. and harmonious images are more relaxing. If you look at the page of this book. but if the colors are too close. Pay particular attention to the area between the yellow and the violet. Analogous colors are often harmonious. and brightness. You can use this to your benefit to guide the eye and mind based on the deliberate placement of colors. next page) reside next to each other so they harmonize. In the image on the left (B). These can be rather subtle since there is not much difference between the hues. their relation can appear like an accidental mismatch rather . it will look white whether it is illuminated by candlelight or by bright sunlight. The solid color appears as a reverse tone because of our perception. Photographers who use diverging color wisely can create bold. Complementary colors (Figures A. Instead of basing our assumptions on the amount of light coming from the page.
Composition 21 than a color scheme. while Caribbean or other dark-skinned models command attention on a white background. pick a dominant color. white. Tetradic (F. This could be two primary colors and two C. With rectangular and square schemes. For example. which mix warm and cool colors. while a pastel color against a light gray may leave us feeling flat. Caucasian and other light-skinned models especially stand out on black. . Triadic color can create disharmony if not used carefully. A triadic color scheme (G. analogous schemes are all warm or all cool colors unless they fall near the border of warm and cool. next page) consists of three colors equally spaced on the color wheel. Square (E) and rectangular color schemes use four colors. Try using less saturated colors. Unlike most color schemes. and gray. or gray. Since the warm tone of the skin is present in color photographs of the nude. use one of the three liberally and apply the other two sparingly. connecting four harmonious colors. next page) is a specific rectangular scheme. it bears examining what skin tone looks like against white. In the case of the former two. secondary colors. A final type of color scheme is to pair a color with a neutral. A square color scheme. An analogous color scheme. such as black. depending on the skin tone. The impact of such a combination depends on the juxtaposition of value and saturation. A gray of close to the same value as the model’s skin can soften the D. bright yellow against black evokes a very strong reaction. A complementary color scheme. since only one hue is present. E. spaced either evenly or in symmetric pairs across from each other. the body stands out boldly. black.
000º K I. White balance is the process of matching camera settings to the color temperature of the light source in the scene being photographed. You will need to decide on a compromise or predominate color temperature if you have mixed light sources. various atmospheric factors affect daylight. stare at the top half of the image (J. like that found in “hot” studio lights. Of additional interest are low and high-key images. The data from the image sensor is independent of white balance. A triadic color scheme. Color balance comes into play when the data recorded by the image sensor is transformed into an image file. Our eyes adjust to changes in color temperature. White Balance Not all color temperatures of light emit an even intensity across the spectrum. red wavelengths. Uncorrected flash Overcast sky Shade Color Temperatures G. Color Temperature 3. Light Source Tungsten lights Sunrise. I recommend that you shoot in RAW mode so the white balance can be set after the image is recorded. Tungsten light. discussed on page 60.500º K 5. The following chart (H) shows the intensity of each wavelength of light of three familiar types of photographic illumination. next page) with your eyes on the black spot. The brand and quality of electronic flash can affect the color temperature. The following exercise will help you understand why it can be difficult to recognize color cast in a photograph. so we see things indoors in a relatively normal way.500-8.500º K 3.700º K 6.000º K 8. You now know that indoor lights emit a different color temperature than daylight. Even with perfectly matched light sources. Color Temperature.000-10. contains higher levels of long. shooting in RAW mode and careful software processing does not mean the end of your troubles with white balance. A tetradic color scheme. Another factor to address is reflected color. so light that appears white will not necessarily produce an even distribution of all the visible colors.000-6.22 Exquisite Curves impact of an image and invite our eye to explore more. Color temperature is expressed in terms of degrees Kelvin. To perform this exercise. each with their own color temperature.000-4.000º K 5. as can Recognizing Color Cast Our eyes adapt to color shifts and make a mental correction. objects near your model will reflect their color into the scene and onto your subject. Notice that only daylight and electronic flash contain roughly equal intensity across the spectrum. H. sunset UV corrected flash Overhead sun. However. An overcast sky has more high-frequency wavelengths towards the blue and purple end of the spectrum. Stare at it for about . clear sky F. such as a JPG. The table above (I) lists some everyday types of light and corresponding color temperature.000º K 5.
An exercise in recognizing color cast. a reddish tint to your photographs might look like neutral gray to you. Visual mass is similar to physical mass in that objects of the same size might be made of different materials and have different weights. Use a reference of a known neutral color that you create in your image-editing software. the scene should appear fairly uniform because your eyes have adapted. Areas of high contrast due to texture. Compositions that have large masses near the top can appear inverted from what the viewer might expect. This can make your subject appear to be suspended or in motion. If you edit photographs in a room that is painted bright red. eliminate lights that could cause flare. A Styrofoam cube will weigh less than a metal cube. too). We are accustomed to seeing larger masses near the bottom of an image. dark object near the bottom of the frame may draw in your eye. These receptors are called cones. Mass/Weight Visual mass is the term that describes how much a form or shape attracts your eye. the receptors in our eyes perceive red. K. A neutral wall color behind the monitors will help you see the colors more accurately. play a role in determining visual mass. Some Quick Science The after-image phenomenon from a vivid color is called successive contrast. It is essential to have a frame of reference. intricatelypatterned cloth may have more. . Then quickly shift your gaze to the spot in the middle of the lower image. Flare is light striking the screen and washing out the image. then look away. In a visual composition. When viewing your work on screen. Also. You can adjust your monitor visually by comparing a gray color sample under neutral light to the onscreen image. a large. An inverted arrangement of masses can be dynamic or awkward depending on how carefully the elements are distributed. too. Similar to a camera. for example. or value can have a visual mass that is disproportionate to their size. Although there is a different color cast on each half. Also. make sure the light in the room is consistent every time you view your work. But it is not always the largest form or shape that has the greatest visual mass. Your eyes also adapt to the ambient light and colors in the room. the red and blue cones will take over temporarily and you will see a magenta cast. So what is the purpose of this exercise? When you have been staring at images on a monitor. your eyes begin to adjust to any color cast in them. It is many a photographer’s prerogative not to go to the extreme of a monitor calibration kit. green. and blue wavelengths of light. You can do this by photographing a gray card or color chart during your shoot. It is caused by fatigue in the eye. make sure the light in your room is the same each time you work at your computer (having neutral colors in your editing room helps. If you look at a bright green object until your greensensing cones become tired. If this image were flipped over.Composition 23 thirty seconds. while a brightly-colored. An image with the masses at the top makes the bodies appear to be suspended. J. Juxtaposition and context. A large featureless sky may possess little mass. they would appear at rest. similar to a landscape. color.
Where you fit your subject into that threedimensional space is a crucial element of composition. In the image below (B). Our eyes are stereoscopic. The figure as a subordinate element to the waterfall. In the above photograph (C). You need to rely on shadow and perspective to create the illusion of depth. A sense of mass is created by the relative sizes of the models. width. Photography is monocular vision that produces a two-dimensional image. Our sense of scale tells us that the figure is dwarfed by the relative vastness of the waterfall. The space of a visual presentation is defined by the furthest and the closest points that we can see in that scene. giving us the perception of depth in our three-dimensional world. Although a photograph is twodimensional and static. Scale plays a part in interpreting mass and weight. C. A subject close to the camera will typically appear larger B. This is not required for a satisfactory visual image. and time. The hammer gives a sense of scale. as well as the horizon. In the image above (A). sharp focus on the distant model reinforces our assumption that the larger figure is close and the other is far. A photograph against a plain background can be confined to the model herself. the nude is a subordinate element to the waterfall. there is an implication that one figure is a giant or the other is tiny. An example of the use of scale. The human form is so recognizable that it can be a subordinate mass and still be quite identifiable in the image. A. .24 Exquisite Curves The typical nude photograph lets a single primary subject dominate as the largest mass in the image. Compare that to a vast landscape where we can see elements that are very close. Photographs are twodimensional representations of three-dimensional ideas. walls. An interior environment can define the space of an image by showing the floor. The lack of space between the larger figure and the edge of the frame enhances the feeling of closeness. and ceiling. Visual effects create a connection between the elements of composition and our understanding of what is happening in the image. Depth and the Illusion of Reality Depth and illusion are two of the larger considerations in photographic composition. In other words. which has more mass. it can convey meaning that translates to height. depth. a two-dimensional image conveys four dimensions of information through visual effects.
This is as pin-cushioning. depending on the degree to which it is shading on a three-dimensional object tells us about its altered. The relies on perspective and the interplay of light and alteration of perspective from our expectations can shadow. perspective. with software manipulation. D. Unlike contours.” These words can be traced a low camera angle that is not too far from the model. an depth. Chiaroscuro is the term given to the arrangement change the mood of a photograph either consciously or of light and dark parts in a visual presentation. Perspective creates strong. joins the lines of perspective. The unconsciously. you hide and show discriminately. while a distant subject will appear higher and further. such as roads and buildings. the lower the camera needs to be and hiding. perspective in a way that appears natural so as not to distract the viewer. You show her not exactly as she is. .” The word the use of perspective is to lengthen the model’s legs with oscuro means “dark.Composition 25 and lower in the scene. The back to their Latin meanings. Photographs are a twodimensional representation of the C. the viewer will tend to be drawn to whichever vertical line. while image can be made to appear flat. The representation is our eyes. Enhanced curves with side light and deep subjects are portrayed. “clear” and “obscure. You control camera angle. In the image at top (C). A second popular choice is to adopt Origin of Chiaroscuro an exaggerated perspective for dramatic effect or to enhance specific parts of the subject. Converging lines. such accustomed to thinking that the camera never lies. Even if the model has no makeup. you are creating images from a particular personal point of view. with almost no side lighting exaggerates the roundness. Unless you are employing a documentary style. Illusion is a deception created by In addition to creating composiconvincing us that we are looking tional lines. Though the technique of shading objects had existed since ancient times. it is applied to images with pronounced depth created by lit and shaded areas. The documentary photographer uses composition to engage his/ her viewer. and shadow. In the case that the vanishing point is out of the frame. The placement of one element in front of another (overlapping) also gives the appearance of relative depth. The illusion of three-dimensionality can be corrected (or exaggerated) using software. but does not try to interject his/her bias.” This technique is rooted in showing further from the model. curves are enhanced by a side light and deep shadows give the impression of depth. This is effective when the subject is placed either at the vanishing point or at the point of greatest divergence. obvious lines that can be used to align the other elements of the composition. Most photographers choose to render chiaroscuro does not rely on the strength of lines. closest to the camera. Perspective is very powerful in developing the illusion of space. which goes beyond subtle shading. Lens distortion. For example. Frontal light tends to flatten a curved object. use of lenses that see differently than real world. 1606—1669) epitomize the complete potential of portraying light and shadow. A typical example of The Italian word chiaro means “light. The shadow on the floor accentuates the perception of three-dimensional space. Today. perspective. 1571—1610) and Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch. Perspective Linear perspective involves both line and depth. If the vanishing point is within the frame. Be careful about letting lines converge outside of the image frame. such as in architecture. show linear perspective. The works of artists such as Caravaggio (Italian. to create the same degree of perspective. the eye is drawn to it. but how you want to show her. it is possible to show an so convincing that we are alternate perspective of the subject. An example of both linear and atmospheric perspective (courtesy of the fog). perspective affects how at reality. the first known use of the word chiaroscuro was in 1686. can further alter our perception. Through the shadows. These not always the case. This kind of perspective also exists in exterior formations. even if your control is so subtle that the illusion looks like reality. You are creating illusion.
perspective can be used to accentuate parts of the body. A wide-angle lens will provide a large angle of view that will allow you to include objects that are both close and far. as well as to obscure. our mind interprets recognizable objects as a consistent size regardless of where they are placed in the scene. In figure photography. Varying camera heights. while keeping more distant objects visible. Her other foot. . and constancy. the farthest part of her body from the lens. a wide-angle lens (80degree angle of view) was used to draw attention to perspective. the head appears smaller due to perspective and distance. but that they are at differing distances to us. Inherent challenges of wide-angle nude photography include having a background wide enough to fill the wide angle of view and achieving satisfactory focus and depth of field. wide angle. If we see a large figure and a small figure in a scene. we do not assume that one is a giant. Perspective contributes to the composition and mood of your photographs. and low. eight feet away from the model. In this photograph. To show steep perspective. from left to right: high. You will need a background that is quite large in order to get edge-toedge coverage. while further objects appear smaller and higher. A. Shooting Tip To create the illusion of longer legs. use a short focal length (wide-angle lens) and position the camera low and close to the model. it occupies as much of the image as her torso. Notice the effect on body proportions in terms of the apparent height of the hip. In the photograph to the right (A). A typical vantage point is about eighteen inches off the ground. Because the model’s raised foot was only a few inches from the lens. B. Closer objects appear larger and lower in the scene. Through a phenomenon called constancy. appears tiny by comparison.26 Exquisite Curves Linear perspective is a product of the relative location of various objects to the lens. medium. Straight lines that are parallel in reality appear to converge due to perspective. thus emphasizing perspective. Illustration of steep perspective. the camera is typically placed very close to one object.
A body foreshortened by the angle of view. The content of the image can imply temporal elements: that an object on the floor has just fallen. but compare the length of the legs. D. In both photographs. Time and Motion Not only are the dimensions of space portrayed in images. Stronger. or what is about to happen—something looks unstable and is about to fall. not foreshortened. and more subdued colors recede. but in the other photograph (D). Many people are accustomed to thinking of a photograph as a frozen moment in time. The same model and pose. the torso is foreshortened because it is close to the axis of the lens. Foreshortening can create a dramatic and striking image. Atmospheric perspective does not rely on lines. The perspective created with a close vantage point and wide-angle lens can further emphasize foreshortening. By applying these and similar techniques. the blur of motion can imply what has happened and what is about to happen. The fourth dimension of time is more difficult to portray than the width. but it could also make the body look awkward if it serves only to make some body parts look thicker while not affecting the rest of the body. The progression of lines through a space can also allude to a sequence of events. can be used for the effect of motion blur. By using these principles. you can control the illusion of depth in the space of a scene. There are various ways to portray time. A subject with muted skin tones against a warm-colored background in crisp focus will make the scene appear shallow. In the photograph shown at top left (C). for example. Angle of view and camera location determine not only foreshortening. A slow shutter speed. also called aerial perspective. you can exaggerate or de-emphasize the impression of the actual space. most photographs contain references to a sequence of events through hints about the past and future. for example. However. height.Composition 27 C. the head appears the same size. Foreshortening is the illusion of shortening some or all of the body through the effect of perspective. The effect is created by both the diminution of distant objects and the convergence caused by linear perspective. The second kind of perspective. the torso is perpendicular to the lens and it is not foreshortened. . is the effect that causes distant objects to appear muted in color and contrast. softly focused background will give the scene more of a feeling of depth. Foreshortening happens to body parts or other objects that are nearly parallel to the axis of the lens. The portrayal of motion and the passage of time is such a compelling element that many photographers include it as a major theme in their work. which alludes to a brief passage of time. for example. and depth of your subject. They can also set the ambience by showing the subject from an unfamiliar vantage. atmospheric perspective. photographs can combine fragments of various moments in time. With digital manipulation. There will be more discussion and recommendations about focal length under “Depth of Field” on page 55. but time can also be implied. brighter colors appear closer. A warm subject against a cool-toned. but the representation of perspective and the degree of distortion as well.
it can imply she is remembering the past or imagining the future. A model’s interaction with objects gives us a glimpse. of the model’s mind. attention is drawn towards the area of obvious action. can give us a sense of time. the heavy mist allows us to see aerial perspective at work at a relatively close distance. A. too.28 Exquisite Curves The image at the right (A) was combined from multiple shots using Photoshop. though less is revealed about her intentions than the results of her actions. speaks to us about her intention to move. . For instance. the model’s apparent intentions. a rooftop at night with city lights in the background. mixed with a studio flash and a walking model. a shutter speed of one second or longer on a background lit with continuous light. If she looks thoughtful. It implies both what has just happened and what may happen next. It also says something about the subject. thrown in the air for example. This technique runs the risk of washing out your subject or blurring the entire image. An object in motion. The image on the next page (C) has interrelated elements of perspective. Many situations lend themselves to this technique. Additionally. the model who has just thrown the object. breaking the rhythm set by the two that are facing away from us. This is another indication of motion. for example. she gets smaller and higher in the frame. The mix of sharp and blurry can be created by mixing studio strobes with continuous lighting and a slow shutter speed. In other ways. will create a ghostly image and a solid image. A subject who is leaping in the air sends a dramatic message based on our knowledge of the force required to propel her into the air and the inevitable landing that has yet to occur (from our vantage point). the posture telegraphs the idea of motion. A mix of motion-blurred areas and sharp areas can also be produced or enhanced in postprocessing with photo-editing software. The body in motion gives us clear indications of temporal activity based on what we know about the kinetics of our own anatomy. If just part of a model’s body is blurred by motion. such as the hand and arm. Without enough active space. and the rest of her is crisply stopped in time. time. Her changing arm position. The image below it (B) was exposed using a slow enough shutter speed (1/200 second) that a small amount of blur is evident only in the fastest moving parts of the body. which were then combined with image editing software. portrayed through body language and facial expression. implies motion based on our common knowledge of physics. too. and movement. The image was created by exposing multiple frames. The most distant figure is turned. the subject will look like she is about to move out of the picture frame. B. A neutral density filter may be helpful if you are having trouble getting a long shutter speed with an intense light source. so some experimentation is needed in order to master the process. As the figure moves further from us. Because the body is captured while walking. Active space is the space in front of a moving subject that she appears to be traveling toward. you can try lighting only the background with continuous light to ensure that the strobes illuminate only the subject. In the studio.
you will gain a feel for it. please see glossary.Composition 29 Technical Discussion: Capturing Motion Panning with a moving subject can impart motion blur predominantly to the background. Given that your model’s moving pose may not be ideal at the exact moment when you release the shutter. Have the model move laterally to you and move the camera to follow her. If your camera uses automatic focus tracking. . The passing of time. you can use a tripod to keep the camera from moving up and down as you pan. suggested by rhythm and ghostly transparency. although many do not. provided they have a sufficiently long flash duration (e. She should be moving quickly. such as running or rollerskating.) Some cameras’ shutters do not respond quickly enough to capture the desired phase of motion without compensating for the shutter lag.g.5 and t0. If your subject’s movement is purely sideways. (Flash duration is measured in t0. Layered Photoshop file.1 over 1/100 of a second). See page 112.1. you will likely want to try several exposures in pursuit of some satisfactory shots. t0. a continuous light source. but leave a mostly sharp subject. you need a model in quick motion. When the subject passes by your predetermined scene area. but fast enough to freeze objects that are stationary relative to the camera. press the shutter and keep the camera following her until the shutter curtain closes. With practice. Various motion effects can also be created or enhanced with photo-editing software. Motion blur can also be achieved with studio strobes. C. This is slow enough to cause blurring from fast motion. Set the camera to a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/30 of a second. To achieve a pan. and a background with enough detail so that a motion blur will be perceptible. you may wish to turn it on.
and in any other object that appears in the scene. Long rectangles or other shapes that approximate human proportion can also be used to repeat the nude figure. A rhythm can be regular or progressive. and Progression Rhythm is an outcome of repetition. such as from a net or leaves. the trees behind the model. A progressive rhythm changes as it repeats. Texture All texture is comprised of elements repeated to such a degree that they form a discernible area. Texture can be seen within the body of the model. In composition. In the image at lower left (A). A resting place can be made by creating a break in a pattern or rhythm. The main texture areas are the grass in the foreground. translational. and hairs and pores come into view. in the background. A sense of balance is somewhat subjective. In music. In visual presentations. . You might not have thought of the sky and skin areas as texture because they are relatively smooth. Recall that visual mass is the magnitude to which a form or shape attracts the viewer's eye. the sky. pores. can give the appearance of texture on your subject or background. Light enhances or hides texture in your subject. Formal balance is symmetry. The number of textured areas in a given scene is theoretically limitless. Balance can be termed as formal. long lines at the left is similar to the grass. The relative sizes and placement of various masses within a composition are what determine if it is balanced. Although the area of bright. How many can you identify? Try to pick out the five or six most predominant areas of texture. The texture of skin is defined by muscles. Design principles describe the ways in which design elements can be combined and the effects these have on the viewer. bounded only by the resolving power of the camera. If you imagine an image as being balanced on a fulcrum. Any substantial vertical line can echo the orientation of a standing figure in the composition and be part of a rhythm. The mountains in the background are a similar texture to the sky. An image does not need to be symmetrical to be balanced. finer contours are visible. These accents are usually created through contrast. Symmetry can be bilateral (also called axial or mirror). or Various textures can exist within a frame. Balance Balance is a term with broad-reaching meaning. distinguished only by tone. For the sake of composition. like a seesaw. it is the characteristic of mass distribution across an image. having just one or a few main subject masses. As you move closer. The texture of an object is determined by the substance from which it is made. rhythm relies on accents that repeat. Consider the texture of hair: it is created through a pattern of lines. the brighter. These gaps become part of the negative space around the subjects. For example. only a few textures are appropriate before we suffer from visual overload. rhythm is created through a series of beats. A. a series of lines could evolve into thicker lines as they progress across the composition.30 Exquisite Curves Design Principles: Putting the Elements Together The following principles begin to build on the preceding elements. Rhythm. the model's skin. and other scene elements. A regular rhythm is created by a pattern that simply repeats. The ripples of muscles constitute a texture that is visible from a distance. and is not commonly used today. It is a tactile quality that can be layered on various scales—textures within textures. nor do the elements need to be spaced equally from the center. but it is not difficult to reach consensus on the balance of most compositions. background. and the model's hair. informal. Giving the eye a place to rest can help to avoid a busy composition. A flowing rhythm progresses with curved lines. Cast shadows. which side is heavier? If both sides are equally weighted. longer strands of grass to the left. search for areas of texture. and hair follicles. It can repeat one shape or a series of shapes. it is a distinct texture. Highly textured surfaces oppose smooth or featureless shapes. you have balance. Most nude compositions are simple. or radical. Repetition. Closer yet.
Despite its name. • Radical balance: The line of equilibrium is far from the center. To achieve radical balance. Radically balanced compositions generate a sense of tension by placing the axis of balance far from the center. informal balance. bold. The term radical balance is often misunderstood and not frequently discussed. radical balance is not uncommon. Radically balanced compositions distinguish themselves through intense. and placement of elements. Radical balance takes advantage of contrast to create interest through tension. Informal balance has equal weighting on both halves of the image. the composition is balanced between left and right halves by elements of equal visual weight. . The model’s body is balanced by the reflection of her in the water. although it is commonly used and has a place in nude photography. one must use opposing visual weights of color. turbulent. Reflective surfaces offer an opportunity for horizontal symmetry. Translational symmetry occurs through the repetition and transposition of forms. C. A subtle shift away from absolute horizontal symmetry nudges this composition towards more dynamic. Radical balance can use contrasting colors. Radical balance does not mean lopsided or lacking in equilibrium. Radial symmetry occurs around a central point. For example. shapes. • Informal balance: The most common kind of balance. nor is it unconventional.Composition 31 radial. but through asymmetrical means. The image above (D) is symmetrical along a horizontal division (axis). a perfectly proportioned athlete may lend herself to a symmetrical pose that demonstrates gymnastic prowess. most interesting factor about it. size. and irregular composition. D. Beyond informal balance is radical balance (C). B. and gestures to create a balanced tension between elements. space. Three Kinds of Balance Summarized • Formal balance: Symmetrical photographs work best when the balance of the symmetry of the subject itself is the strongest. Informal balance (photo B) is asymmetric and is based on equilibrium through the relative visual mass of elements in the composition.
Five or seven points of E. Colors that are vivid contrast against duller colors. . Contrast A.32 Exquisite Curves interest can also achieve this. However. This montage is an example of contrast in patterns and textures. it becomes more difficult to balance a composition. a composition risks being static. but dynamic because an irregular rhythm can be present. consistent. warm/cool. differing shapes. Consider the monochrome images below. With a pair of subjects. Photographers often think of tonal contrast between predominate light and dark areas when they think of contrast. Three points of interest can be arranged in a dynamically balanced design. etc. Radical balance. but have different meanings. This method works only with groups. As the number of points of interest increases. Each has a range of tones from white to black. With an even number of interest points. vivid/dull. dynamic. the words sound alike. which ends up looking either static or unbalanced. Contrast can be divided into several categories: light/dark. C. an image can be balanced. also called occult balance. is irregular. This image uses rotational symmetry instead of bilateral symmetry. but balancing more elements requires more consideration. sharp/soft focus. and rhythmic informal balance. and spontaneous. There are other kinds of contrast besides tonal. The juxtaposition of contrasting elements plays heavily into the balance of an image. dynamic balance is difficult to achieve because the most compositional possibilities tend to be symmetrical. It is used to create eye-catching visual statements that go beyond the calm. D. Groups of odd quantities of points can help balance an image without making it look static. the left image (E) has lower contrast between the predominant tones. Easily Confused Do not confuse radical balance with radial symmetry. B. With three points of interest. not a single subject.
Most viewers are not conscious of the shapes comprised of negative space. The subjects are called positive space and the background comprises the negative space. There are three shapes made by the negative space and only one shape made by the positive space. shapes. In the image at lower left (G). hue. Contextual elements can create a feeling of tension through movement or implied intentions of the subject. a model that appears to be falling through the air or menacingly holding a weapon creates a sense of tension. lines. However. saturation. bent over a bar stool. G. Everything else is negative space. A thick line near a thin line creates contrast. an extreme sense of tension develops. informal balance can create a sense of tension through contrast. A montage containing opposition and tension. breast. However. and sliver of torso—form the positive space. and warm colors contrast with cool colors. . F. H.Composition 33 Opposition/Tension There are a number of ways to create opposition and tension. and anything that can form a dichotomy can form a contrast where the two meet in an image. whether it is foreground or background. size. Contrast factors: tone. Shapes. For example. albeit more subtly than the subject. as shown in the simplified version of the image that follows. shape. awareness of the figure/ ground relationship is an essential step to becoming visually literate. Areas of sharp focus contrast where they border areas that are out of focus. as does a short line near a long one. Any elements that are subtle enough to recede from prominence are part of the negative space. Negative and Positive Space A visual presentation consists of subjects and the areas around them. The figure(s) is your subject(s) and the ground is the negative space around them. The lines. The positive space is visually dominant and the negative space is subordinate. By rotating this already unusual posture. leg. In the image above (H). textures. The original orientation of the model was lying on her back. and tones of the image do not come into play in determining positive and negative space. Negative space creates shapes that influence the viewer. texture. Radical balance creates a sense of opposition and tension through balance. a sense of tension is created by the odd orientations of the figures. Other terms to describe these two elements are figure/ground. the parts of figure—the arm.
It can be performed in Photoshop. in Notan neither positive nor negative is dominant. It means “dark-light” and is traditionally comprised of pure black and white. Note that overlapping areas within the subject are not considered when determining positive or negative space. The first step in this process is to separate the figure (positive space) from the background (negative space). it is helpful to keep Notan principles in mind.) Easily Confused Do not confuse Notan with Chiaroscuro (page 25). the concept can be a useful exercise from which photographic compositions can be extracted. and Layer Mask tools. If you can recognize Notan when you see it. Notan Notan is a Japanese design idea that achieves harmony through the placement of light and dark areas. An iconic example of Notan design is the Taoist symbol for yin and yang. GIMP. but Notan does not have to employ rotational symmetry.B. Exercise in Figure/Ground Balance The following exercise will help to evaluate the balance of an image while exploring the concept of figure versus ground.34 Exquisite Curves Note The term negative space should not be confused with a photographic negative. like the one below. Notan designs can create interesting positive/ negative space interactions because the subject can be comprised of both black and white areas. Your understanding of Notan balance principles can be used to construct the underlying composition of non-Notan images. Understanding negative space plays an important role in learning the tech. A. The positive and negative spaces are rendered in brown and blue respectively in the illustration at right (B). Select a balanced but asymmetrical image of a single subject on a plain background. The above image (A) is more complex than the preceding one. Shapes with dissimilar weights can be made to balance by their placement. or other photo-editing software. Escher. unlike Western compositions where the positive space dominates. (See “Framing” on page 57. This kind of design uses shapes that have subtle contours and are not very complicated. For an example of a Western adaptation of Notan. So. Although Notan employs only pure black and white and no tones of gray. Pen. you have another design principle that you can use to visualize your compositions. You can do this with any variety . It will require that you know how to use the Quick Selection. nique of framing. Both have to do with light and dark values. The areas are placed around a point of equilibrium to complement each other. a reference to a film-based process. Notan is related to achieving balance in a composition. When making a silhouette. look up the art of M. Refine Edge. Chiaroscuro is the effect of threedimensional depth and drama created by light and shadow. Adjustment Layer. C. Notan design is without conflict or dominant elements.
cohesion for an overall composition and harmony to describe cohesion for a specific characteristic. but may not hold the viewer for a more in-depth study. Notice the new positive and negative areas and try to divorce your thoughts from the old image. study the image. We try to tie together the visual elements and make meaning of it. you can perform this exercise. such as a combination of the Quick Selection and Refine Edge or with the Pen tool in Photoshop. This is rarely effective. solely through mental process. This is why interesting compositions employ enough variety to create attention without causing discord.. If a composition lacks unity. When we see several elements close to each other. even if there is no intended meaning. It takes a good deal of time to learn how to gain proficiency with figure isolation. it is often chaotic and confusing. When a composition achieves unity with the fewest possible elements. E.). This is how we infer a line from a series of dashes or dots. so artists strive to create unified visual presentations. it does not have to be perfect. we are ingrained with the need to make sense of an image as a whole. completeness. Just get as close to the edges as you can with a moderate amount of effort. With practice. Others use unity to describe . An uncluttered design is often the most effective in imparting your initial message. Too much order and your composition can become boring. When you are done. not on the placement of the model. If you will. The next step is to bisect the image. and variants of it. or cohesion. This will help you select and construct quietly balanced compositions when you desire to do so. Observe how the shapes fit with each other. C. This can be accomplished in Photoshop with an adjustment layer (Layer menu> New Adjustment Layer> Invert. Half of the image will be inverted. The concept of unity is discussed in greater depth in the section on Gestalt. Unity creates a feeling of order.Composition 35 of tools.” Some use the terms unity and harmony synonymously. For our purposes. but for this exercise. no particular shape should jump to your attention. unity means the design has a sense of oneness. it is said to be an efficient composition. Unity and Variety As humans. we “connect the dots. D. If you could remove something from the composition and have it still work. and belonging together. This is a process called isolation. it should look like the image below with the figure in black and the background in white. Then select half of the layer mask for the inversion adjustment and fill it with black. such as color or shape. we mentally group them. The final step is to invert one half of the image. This can be done vertically or horizontally. though most figure photographs will lend themselves to being divided along the axis of the figure. that element is extra. Place the division line based on your framing. Once you have performed the transformation. Does the new image appear balanced? Does one side or shape dominate or draw your eye? If your image is well balanced.
Closure: our minds fill in the gaps in this image with information from our memories. Closure can succeed in creating an attractive mystery that beckons the viewer to participate by completing the representation in his or her mind. with the rest hidden by another design element. proximity. Gestalt is detailed enough to earn a section of its own. If you are clever. to the point where a photograph of a model against a plain backdrop is no longer seen as complex.36 Exquisite Curves Harmony Harmony and variety are vital compositional concepts. the mind is very good at supplying the missing elements. figure/ground relationship. is the psychological recognition of whole forms versus a collection of lines and shapes. Photographs of nudes are by nature complex in that the body itself is intricate. A. 1880—1943). For example. The principles that help give rise to unity are closure. there can be harmony in one element and discord in another. Lines of force and points of interest can help achieve harmony in a composition. you may have color harmony. Closure is more commonly used in English language discussions of Gestalt. Harmony is when the elements work together. . For example. Closure Closure is the phenomenon by which the mind completes the missing pieces implied by a design. They are calming and easier on the eye. but a discord in the contrast of shapes. and tone.” is a study that originated with psychologists in the 1910s and 1920s. notably Dr. suggest what you want the viewer to think. Shapes that complement each other help to create harmony. our minds are not immediately drawn to those intricacies unless we are visually coaxed to do so. Both describe the same phenomenon. you can supply just enough of a story to Note In some discussions of Gestalt. similarity. Regardless of details and subtlety. interlocking shapes or shapes of varying sizes that echo each other appear harmonious. When it comes to the human form and regular geometric shapes. Enough of the body is present to represent its shape. even though it is. Gestalt Principles The Gestalt principles. a German word for “shape” or “form. Harmony and discord can exist within various elements. we try to comprehend an image as a whole. even though there are gaps in the edges of the figure. If you see part of a face or body. Harmonious images are more relaxing. Shapes that are well placed also can achieve harmony. continuance. Contrasting colors stand out and can create discord when used in roughly equal amounts (see “Color Combinations” on page 19). such as color. Within a single image. implying a square. your mind visualizes the remainder of the face or body. we instinctively imagine the two missing corners of the square. and alignment. The image above (A) illustrates closure. Max Wertheimer (Czech. or Gestalt effect. Gestalt. This field of study involves perception and the interpretation of complex visual stimuli. However. Bold colors can excite. As mentioned in the discussion of unity (page 35). Colors that lie close to each other harmonize. Although an offshoot of unity. not just a collection of graphical elements. Understanding Gestalt is relevant because it helps a photographer create images that engage the mind. closure is referred to as reification. If a model makes a pair of right angles with her limbs or hands. we tend to simplify things in our mind. shape.
Similar objects have more in common with each other than other items. like color. when one model stands in front of another. In the image at left (B). the ones in the image at left have been exaggerated to illustrate that the effect of proximity applies on multiple scales. it may influence our eyes to change direction. Many of the black specs are separated by blank space. Pointing devices cause our gaze to move or change direction and can take a variety of forms. Proximity Elements that are close. forms that are in front of the same background element will be mentally combined. In other words. similarity helps us decipher the content. etc. The image on the left (C) is made up of small black shapes. Similarly. in the direction that they are being led across a visual composition. but on what we assume others would also deem sufficiently alike. 1643—1727) first law of motion. For example. even if they are not similar. though we tend to focus only on objects that are obviously similar. It is interesting to note that all the images in this book are made up of tiny dots. B. the anomaly commands our attention and it becomes a point of interest. There is no universal definition of “close. we think of them as a group. Emergence: we interpret the dots as a rendition of a figure.” Our eyes proceed. This phenomenon is called emergence. When we interpret proximity. Shapes that overlap or are close seem to belong together. we are interpreting the scene as an arrangement of three-dimensional objects. shape. This concept is a little like Isaac Newton’s (English. We use similarity and dissimilarity to discern which limbs belong to which model. we consider elements to be related not based on what we think would be similar. or overlapping are interpreted as being part of a group. not as two-dimensional dots on a page. . When we see a model’s fingers. value. for a period of time.Composition 37 Similarity Objects that look similar to one another tend to be perceived as a pattern or group. Proximity relationships typically take precedence in our minds over similarity. Continuance Continuance means that as the viewer’s gaze follows lines through the composition it will proceed in its current direction until it has a reason to cease. we interpret all the shapes as part of the same figure. C. touching. The exact threshold of similarity is subjective. When dissimilarity occurs within a pattern or group. they are grouped together in our mind. Shapes that are far apart do not appear as unified. even if they are intertwined with other shapes or colors. which can be paraphrased as “an object in motion tends to remain in motion. Once we run across another significant visual element. size. Dots and other bits of color that form a reasonably recognizable object will be interpreted as such. The proximity of shapes helps determine harmony.” for proximity is relative to the spacing used in each composition. However.
Too much alignment can leave your image looking over-designed and can therefore suffer the same banality as a symmetrical composition. and lines of perspective. that are bold enough to draw the eye. rather than the several distinct objects that we see. pointing. Elements that are aligned create a sense of A. we will look in the direction of the action. Our mind automatically connects the two ends of the model and we interpret her as a single entity. Similarly. continuance connects her hair. We know the shadow on the wall belongs to the body because of its shape. Shapes that are arranged along a line or combine to form larger shapes also create path lines. tree. Placing the subject in the middle of the frame aligns its center with the element of the picture frame. Lines of perspective are elements such as the edge of a wall or a row of fence posts that guide the viewer. such as a road. Continuance: we connect the segments to see this as a woman wrapped in a ribbon instead of disconnected parts. A portion of the model’s torso is “missing” from the image below (A). path lines. . The dark. they are connected visually. that is. or throwing an object. If the model is looking at something. study the image below (B). A line that draws our eye through continuance is also called a line of force. passing through the ribbon. the model’s actions. Understanding these principles of Gestalt is necessary for comprehending the visual pathway (page 40) and other structures that are discussed later. The subject’s actions. The most obvious path line would be a graphic arrow. Even though the various shapes are on different physical planes. Alignment can follow either a vertical or a horizontal axis.38 Exquisite Curves such as subject’s actions. or swath of fabric. Near the right edge of the frame is a vertical drainpipe that continues below the black shape that divides it. jagged shape that cuts through the head and much of the upper image is interpreted as an object in the foreground. To review Gestalt and the other concepts that were explained up to this point. B. Diagonal alignments are not as obvious to the viewer. The model’s gestures and lines of her limbs guide our eye through the image. The various patterns allow us to identify surfaces and materials. It is achieved by lining up elements either along their edges or centers. These connections and suggestions are what help guide our eyes through the points of interest in the image. order and purpose. Path lines are strong lines. Alignment Alignment involves both proximity and continuance. the lines of which are broken by her arm. direct our eye. Study the image above with respect to Gestalt principles.
The lit side of the leg creates a line that is straight enough and close enough in angle to keep our eyes moving. they encounter an obstacle. this model also knew to point her toes so that her feet would continue the lines of her calves. and perspective: The most dominant lines in this image are the lines of perspective formed by the left and right felt edges of the pool table. Lines. shape. Although most of these balls are incomplete circles. All inhabit the green felt area. larger group because they are the same size. and the three balls partly obscured by the model's hair at the upper right. T he l i ne o f t h e m o d el ’s t hi gh continues to the line of her forearm. we interpret each foot as a single unit. the shoe from the other foot that crosses the leg. which groups them visually and contextually. rather than interpreting these as independent pieces of flesh. which converges with the line of the body and forearm. The repeated horizontal lines of the blinds form a pattern in the background.” though we know it is a separate object. There is a variety of shapes in this image. and instead mentally connect both parts of the leg. Continuance (Gestalt): Notice the line formed by the felt edge on the left side of the pool table. The predominant shapes are triangles. However. Because the shoe overlaps the foot. Examine this pattern closely for subtlety. However. .Composition 39 Review and Practice Let us examine the image below (C) with respect to everything we've discussed to this point. like these. Another strong line is the pool cue in the foreground. These lines converge on a vanishing point that is within the image area. closure (Gestalt): The pool balls form groups: the four balls in the lower right. There are other subtle examples of continuance in t hi s im a ge . Skilled in posing. This line suggests to our eye that it continues to follow the line of the leg. we continue to follow the leg. near the tip of the raised shoe. Once our eyes get to the line of the leg. Proximity: The straps of the shoes form black lines that starkly divide the shapes of the feet. C. We might even refer to her shoe as her “foot. the two balls at the lower left. Some lines of her hair align with the shadow in her cleavage. it is thought of as one visual element. or the subdivisions of the windowpanes? Horizontal lines are repeated in the closest edge of the pool table at the bottom of the image. many are rather concrete and some are psychological. are an easy way to build repetitive geometric shapes in a figure composition. pattern. Intertwined triangles. Similarity. and texture. We identify all the pool balls as being part of a single. the largest being the one that extends from the closest corners of the table up to the model’s highest shoe. ignoring the visual obstacle. The pool cue also aligns with her forearm. we still interpret them as whole circles. Do you notice the crossed vertical and horizontal lines formed by the window behind the blinds? How about the vertical lines of the six cords holding the blinds together. shapes.
without forethought. the eye wanders aimlessly through unrelated elements. such as something thrown or falling. having devised a visual pathway through either intuition. Understanding emphasis is important for understanding visual pathway (next section). lower its contrast until it recedes. As mentioned earlier in reference to Gestalt (page 36). A bright light. Identify points of interest. By adjusting the contrast of specific elements either up or down. like the face. edges of the torso. Although our discussion of composition is anchored in visual concepts. a human face. it will take time to acquire the skill. The viewer is instinctively drawn to what the subject is apparently doing or contemplating. Although I have found that others follow the same path. color. The first area of emphasis in the visual pathway is called a point of entry. second. How to Identify the Visual Pathway 1. or cognitive values. what they are doing. recall that contrast is more than just tonal contrast. The composition is accented by points of interest. which are created by contrasting in colors. thus removing it from the pathway. context. A difference in sharpness also keeps our eyes in areas of crisp focus. the face still tells us volumes about this person. The exact pathway will vary with each viewer. a sense of action will grab attention. feet. The visual pathway is the sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices. Does the visual pathway work? Does the eye stop moving or get confused at any point? What can be done to improve the visual pathway? Remember that contrast determines lines and points of interest. It should be a photographer’s goal to learn to create visual pathways to the extent that it becomes second nature. Recall the concept of continuance from the discussion on Gestalt. bright color. A point of interest is any meaningful part of the image that attracts a viewer’s attention for a span of time. and other aspects that distinguish a line or point of interest. Give them the reverence they deserve. The eye will move along limbs of the body. shapes. Without a visual pathway. Determine the sequence of the remaining lines and points. and cultural bias are the major influences that determine the point of entry. The point of light that hits the hand (2) is the second most prominent element. If you seek to add an element. We are naturally drawn to hands. many photographers will avoid having the model make eye contact or even have her face visible if they do not wish for it to be an compelling point of their composition. 4. The eye is drawn to the face (1) first (even if for just a split second). The raised knee (3) has a bright light on it and is in line with the arm leading up to the face. and what they are implying. 3. take care where they are placed. or edges of contrasting shades of light and dark in the subject or background. The pathway forms a structure. Consider focus. Determine which point of interest is the entry point. most notably via points of interest. After the entry point. but we are all similarly programmed with regard to what we notice first.40 Exquisite Curves Emphasis Emphasis can be achieved through various devices. edges between contrasting colors. The vast majority of viewers are unaware that they are following a visual pathway and many photographers do not analyze why their images are successful. a model’s gaze. Although your eye may momentarily hunt for each element. whether it is intentional or occurs through serendipity. shape. An especially compelling visual element is the human face. the eye can be compelled to move to another point of interest or it can follow lines through the image. . or promote it in the sequence of viewing. and third. serendipity. What are the areas of emphasis? Where does your eye go first? Find the visual pathway through this image. increase its contrast. Although the head is obscured by broken lighting. Identify lines of force (guiding lines. you can change the visual pathway. but I will refrain from using that term to avoid confusion with optical focus. Scientists would be quick to tell you that the eye darts around the image and does not move in a fluid pathway. hands. Dissimilar shapes. not everyone traces through the image the same way. I envy those who are fortunate enough to have an intuition for creating visual pathways Try to identify visual pathways with your images and the images in this book. hands tell us what a person is doing or intends to do. Also. The smaller image (A) is a legend illustrating where my eye is drawn first. Consider the image on the opposite page (B). Finally. one cannot ignore that the eye is drawn through subject matter. or both. Abstract design. Eyes and hands draw special interest. will gain attention. The lines of the limbs lead our eye. tones. but the visual pathway is about the order of visual dominance of elements. If we use our eyes to see the world. brightness. hands are how we manipulate it. and other body language implies action or intended action. 2. For this reason. Cognitive value means recognition for what something represents rather than its visual properties. In order to reduce the prominence of an element. Objects in the foreground garner attention. Visual Pathway Every successful image has a visual pathway. or another aspect of the photograph will grab our attention first. and the viewer’s gaze should flow through this structure. see page 8). especially large objects. For most. Points of interest are sometimes called focal points. especially if they are in the sharpest plane of focus. the mind latches onto each point of interest.
next page. • Lines of force (guiding lines) suggest movement. (page 33). which are read from left to right. but scan down first. tone. Asian cultures start at the top left. direct the eye through an image. Lines that converge.) . except for numerals. and line. Strong visual contrast or compelling content will override this sequence and create a sense of dynamism or tension. Westerners are culturally accustomed to reading from the top left corner. or moving subject guides our eye in the direction implied by the activity. so it is not surprising that many people begin surveying an image from the top left as well. A. Notice the types of contrast and emphasis that guide your eye through the above image. lines of perspective. gazing. The third quadrant in order of descent is the lower left. not just tonal contrast. texture. Review of Visual Pathway • The visual pathway is a subjective sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices. before looking right. for example. Arabic languages are read from right to left. When strong overrides are absent. based on our bias for reading. B. Examine focus. • Contrast creates points of interest. and finally the lower right. • A gesturing. Remember to consider all types of contrast.Composition 41 There is an order of dominance to the quadrants of an image. • Our default starting place for viewing an image is biased by culture. (See Figure A. we begin looking at the upper left and then the upper right.
The general order of dominance. Recall from the section on triangles that they are stable shapes that can easily be made using the lines of the body (see “Triangles” on page 12). Also see “Golden Mean. Recall B. Triangular pathways are a natural way to generate an energetic figure composition. distinct edges and an implied third edge. A semi-circle can be oriented in any direction. Circular and Cyclical Pathways Curved pathways (B) can form circles or semi-circles. etc. S. should contain a dominant point of emphasis in the center of the spiral. One kind of circular pathway. These pathways can be subtle or pronounced. Golden Rectangle. zigzagging or meandering pathways can be effective in producing moods ranging from lyrical to jarring. producing a U-shape. Three points of interest or three lines is an uncomplicated way to create an effective viewing cycle. those that spiral inward. Triangular Pathways I recommend attempting triangular pathways (C) for those who are new to creating visual pathways in their compositions.and Z-Shaped Pathways The difference between an S-pathway and a Z-pathway (D) is the abruptness with which they change direction. beginning with the dominant quadrant in the upper left. Learn to look for triangles that are only shown through two C. Thusly. Triangular pathway. .42 Exquisite Curves A. A V-shaped design can imply a triangle and the observer’s mind will supply the missing edge. Fibonacci Spiral” on page 51. Circular pathway. These pathways keep the eye moving around the image. C-shape. Remember that you need at least one dominant point of interest or you risk the viewer endlessly searching the image for a point of emphasis.
Limbs forming converging lines. Lines of perspective with a vanishing point within the composition form converging lines that guide the eye through the other image elements. or radiate out from it if you start tracing D. When the general arrangement of elements in your composition follows such a line. Recall. such as lines of perspective (page 8). G) can be a powerful type of visual pathway.Composition 43 from the section on elements that a line that moves back and forth has a strong tendency to draw our eye (page 10). C. the power of converging lines. Note The use of letters in the naming of pathways is a convenience.or Z-shaped pathway. from earlier in this book. S. E. Lines in a polished wood floor run through the reflection of a model. F. Converging Lines Converging lines (Figures E. A Z-shaped pathway in a classic pose. them in the other direction. Do not take the name of U. and Z-shaped pathways too literally. a curved or undulating path does not need to look exactly like a letter of the alphabet to be effective. Multiple lines can all point towards your subject. . you have created an S. F. G.
Photoshop layers for some examples. 13. 6th century B. and most artists learn one or more of them as part of their training. 377. I do not recommend you skip sections. approximately 1. Even though many photographers may return to these formulas for grounding when inspiration eludes them. A subset of photographers strictly adhere to (and even attribute an almost mystical status to) a compositional method called the rule of thirds. it begins to fall into a recognizable. 987.) idea known as the golden mean. the true creativity lies in the imaginative application of what you have read so far in this book. . Think of the processes described here as you would training wheels on your first bicycle. first recorded by Pythagoras (c. the number that equals the golden mean. A. Design methods typically rely on some kind of framework tied to the borders of the image to decide where to place major subjects. because it can be applied in multiple ways in an image. A pentagram. as shown in the above figure (A). Each subsequent number in the series is the sum of the previous two. The exact value of Phi is not relevant to composition. consider the following representation (B). The fundamentals are much more meaningful than any formula for applying them. 34. we only need the level of precision that we can perceive visually. Edward Weston once said. I will start by explaining the golden mean.6. 233. The fundamentals are essential to using the methods. but if you are learning both. so this square lines up nicely with the first two. formed by the diagonals of a regular pentagon. The systems of design that are included here have been followed by a great many photographers to assemble successful images. 89. We stack squares based on the numbers in the sequence. Although they will help you build fairly competent compositions. so the third number is one.C. 1170—c. Here is the Fibonacci sequence: 0. The sequence in itself is of little use to us until we look at the ratios of the numbers. You may feel that everything in this book so far has been leading up to design schemes. Although the rule of thirds is more popular. 8.618034. the goal is to eventually move beyond them. By reading everything that comes up to this point and practicing it.44 Exquisite Curves Methods of Design This section is on methods of design. so the first two squares have sides equal to one unit. 144.618033. 5. 2.” Of course. 3. the closer we get to Phi. 987/610 = 1. These are more necessary to good design than the placement of your subject in the frame. but they are just a starting point. As the arrangement becomes larger. Remember to avoid an overreliance on simplified compositional rules and to address the more subtle compositional elements. If you were to ignore any section of this book. In a sense. so the fourth number is two. To see how the Fibonacci sequence relates to visual space.) and the Pythagoreans. The first two numbers are one.618 or just 1. See page 112. you can become a better photographer. 1. but I would like to add a warning to that notion. It is more difficult to understand. Pick two adjacent numbers in the sequence and create a fraction with the larger number as the numerator. which is a derivative of an ancient (300 A. “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the laws of gravitation before going for a walk. so many people round it to 1. 21.D. Fibonacci created a sequence of numbers that bears his name and begins with zero and one. Zero plus one is one. 55. Golden Mean The basis for the golden mean is a number called Phi. Leonardo Fibonacci (c. it should be the methods of design. 1. repeating pattern. The next number is two. and so on. for example 89/55 = 1. 610.1240) was famous in native Italy for his research with Phi. The further we go down the series. Composing images according to a rigid process risks making the output look formulaic and locks out a multitude of creative possibilities. There are a handful of popular approaches to design. One plus one is two. contains several ratios that are equal to a number known as Phi.61818. The ratio of one to Phi occurs in a pentagram. then learning them in this order makes the most sense. They should bring a sense of assurance and order to your design process. you are right. such as harmony and repetition.
or a framework on which a photograph can be composed. . and so on. from left to right. deeming it an over-practiced fad and actively avoid it. by creating a square whose proportion to the overall rectangle is Phi. if line B is 16. In this design. Phi is pronounced with an “f” sound. The center of the spiral is called the cradle in art and the pole in mathematics.18/10 = 1. This means showing body proportions and other compositional elements that correspond to the golden ratio when compared to one another. Do not confuse the number Phi (φ = 1. A group of rocks with a visual mass totaling this ratio would also suffice. In the previous illustration. but only Phi is releva nt to our discussion. Both are irrational numbers used in geom etry. the golden mean should appear in the subjects. For example. I prefer to create images that I find interesting and innovative. but we can extrapolate what the spiral should look like given an infinite number of iterations.618) with the number Pi ( π = 3. line A is 10 inches. Additional golden mean armatures can be applied to subsections of the image. The remaining rectangle is divided in the same way.Composition 45 B. the ratio of line B to line A is Phi. For example. to use the golden mean in a composition is to place the design elements along the lines indicating the golden rectangles and Fibonacci spiral. The preceding diagrams are a form of armature. or rotated 180 degrees and it would still be in accordance with the golden mean. rather than photograph according to a formula—but I also apply lessons learned from the classic means of composition. Others reject the golden mean outright. A visual representation of building the Fibonacci sequence. 16. Also. The ratio between lines and masses will correspond to the golden ratio.618. you might choose a rock that is 1. A composition arranged according to first and second divisions of the golden rectangle.1415). Consider how Phi applies within a composition. 1. 1. Easily Confused Do not confuse Leonardo Fibonacci with Leonardo da Vinci. C. The borders of the outside rectangle follow the same proportion. Creating an arc that traces the edges of each block leads us toward the center in what is called the Fibonacci spiral. the ratio of line B to line A is Phi.18 inches long. Starting with just a few blocks. One way D. especially if the subdivisions of the rocks also conform to the golden ratio. Each subsequent rectangle can be subdivided. The armature can be flipped horizontally.618. while Pi is pronounced with a “p” sound. vertically. if you photograph a model lying on a rock.618. Some photographers follow the golden mean religiously and some sacrifice everything else in their photographs in the process. The area in pink is a square.6 times her length rather than one that is twice her length. the spiral is not yet very accurate. to infinity.
46 Exquisite Curves Some History There are no known surviving written works by the Pythagoreans. Golden Definitions There are a handful of terms and numbers used in this topic and a few synonyms that you may encounter elsewhere. Observations that connect the Fibonacci spiral to occurrences in nature and historical art are fraught with undue causality. his wife Theano. Golden Section: The ratio between two portions of the same line where the long to the short is 1:0. and Gino Severini (Italian. In 1855. D. and mathematics. At the end of the fifteenth century. but not so close to the edge of the photograph that it gets lost. composition.29. If the golden mean seems perplexing or arbitrary. it should be noted that rectangles conforming to the golden ratio are not found in typical photographic proportions or other graphical formats. This frame is diagonally 1. Interestingly. Most medium format sensors (C) are 1:1. and people that show they do not all conform to the golden mean. 1864-1927). only some specimens. Charles-Édo uard Jeanneret. The book Theorem of the Golden Mean is attributed to Theano. F. aesthetically preferred rectangle. 1810—1876) brought the golden ratio into vogue with artists through a book examining its usefulness in composition. animals. Objects that are not exactly twice or half the size of each other are more visually interesting. Godkewitsch . do not fret. The book was illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci. entitled De Divina Proportione. a painter and architect. the cradle (Figure G) is an expansion of the preceding framework. Avoiding overly symmetrical or overly asymmetrical compositions also helps keep your images interesting. or his students. 1887—1965). a standard DSLR camera (D) has an image ratio of 1:1. Golden proportion. Le Corb usier (Swiss. Despite all its fascinating characteristics. A. golden mean. to represent the golden mean. The fact remains that the proportion appears repeatedly in notable compositions throughout history. I recommend an open-minded approach: the simple notion that you can effectively draw a viewer’s attention by placing your main point of interest off-center. a much simpler lesson follows. It begins with a rectangular image frame that is proportioned along the golden ratio (1:1. based on the golden ratio. Phi: Approximately 1.618. E. B. even before people discovered it and began applying it to photographic composition. and high-definition televisions (F) are 1:1. perspective. 1883—1966). The same goes for much of the lore surrounding the golden mean. 1887— 1927). this book is 8. The golden section can be seen in division of the long side of the golden rectangle. Luca Pacioli (Italian. all we have are historic descriptions written by Plato a nd others. Le Corbusier suggested measuring the human body from head to navel and from navel to toe. The number 0.5x11 inches (B) and has an aspect ratio of 1:1. Multitudes of modern scientific studies offer no conclusive evidence that the golden ratio produces a universally. 1904-1989). “Pythagoreans” refers to the works of Pythagoras. The exact value is represented by the following: ?=(1+?5)/2. psychological studies on the appeal of the golden rectangle1 (E) have concluded that its attractiveness depends largely on its position in a composition and not its pervasive use in the overall Diagonals and the Cradle Based on the golden mean and Phi. Here is a summary of their meanings.25. c. The Golden Mean in Use The golden mean has always existed (in mathematics and nature).618 is called the golden ratio conjugate. Notable artists who have experimented with the golden mean in composition include Salvador Dali (Spanish. C. Adolf Zeising (German.5.33.618. Juan Gris (Spanish.77.618).k. golden number.618. a. An 8x10 photograph (Figure A) has an aspect ratio of 1:1.618. Examine enough designs and you will find some that conform to the golden mean. It has never been proven that the Egyptians knew about Phi or if its appearance in the proportions of the Great Pyramid is a coincidence. There are variations in the plants. Paul Serusier (French. This is the reciprocal of golden ratio of 1:1. golden ratio. created a proportional system called Modulor. 1446—1517) published a three-volume discourse on the golden mean.a. Golden Rectangle: A rectangle with proportions of 1:1. divine proportion.
The golden triangle can be formed by drawing two lines from any point in a pentagon (H) to the ends of the sides opposite it. suggests where to place elements in the scene and does not necessarily move the eye between these points. For any image. 72°. do not choose insignificant p o i n t s j u s t b e c a u s e t h ey li n e up w i t h t h e framework of the triangle. the two remaining obtuse isosceles triangles. using the golden ratio would occupy either 48 or 62% of the image. there are four Fibonacci spirals. These lines intersect perpendicularly at the cradle. A similar method can be applied to a frame that does not conform to the golden mean. Do not confuse this with the golden (isosceles) triangle. one extending from each corner. Consider the most conspicuous elements in your composition first. and 72°. Two of the sides are equal and the third is shorter. making it an isosceles triangle. make sure that the elements are positioned and proportioned well within the picture frame. Golden Triangle The angles of the golden triangle are 36°. When constructed in a pentagon. and 108°. such as a standard digital image with a ratio of 1:1. This is the spot where the Fibonacci spiral converges on in the golden mean. Beware G. one from each corner. for example.Composition 47 bisected with a line. The golden triangle. H. A second line is drawn from one of the remaining corners to form an identically proportioned. Easily Confused A golden triangle is not necessarily the same as a triangular pathway. and this is where a point of interest can be placed. have angles of 36°. A tiny arrangement along the golden triangle floating in a vast negative space does not keep with the method. The four available cradles are shown as red and blue dots. and each has a cradle. The interior triangle should relate to the overall image area. used as an armature. though they could coincide in some images. called the golden gnomons. Just because you can find a golden triangle that connects elements of your image does not mean you have an aesthetically pleasing composition. there are four possible frameworks that can be drawn based on the cradle. The golden triangle within a composition. For any given image. Also. A triangular pathway is a three-point eye movement through the image and can be a triangle of any proportion. forming two triangles.5 with almost the same effect. I. smaller right triangle. . A figure arranged where the leg aligns with diagonals and the knee positioned in one of the cradles (center of the spiral). Elements within the design can be placed and proportioned according to the golden triangle. A third line can be drawn from the remaining corner to create an additional cradle. 36°. Extending lines from the edge of the frame helps with the placement of elements relative to the picture frame. The remaining portions of the pentagon are golden gnomons. Golden Triangle versus Right Triangle The lines that intersect at the Fibonacci cradle form a right triangle.
off-center subject. or other software. The rule of thirds offers four locations for points of interest and four lines for the main elements. ignoring all other possibilities. but not the same. Bear in mind that placing subjects along all four lines runs the risk of a static composition with symmetry from top to bottom and left to right. Nonetheless. Rule of thirds compared to Golden rectangle. and right. The proportions are close. many more compositional frameworks that can be employed to learn how to bring order to an image. such as two thirds. But these are not the main message of this topic. Although historically used in paintings. There are. as some do with any given working process. Comparing Thirds to Golden Mean Some people are apt to assert that the rule of thirds is the same as the golden mean. it helps to be familiar with a variety of armatures. Of course. Artists have been using armatures of all sorts for ages to suggest where they will place significant compositional elements. the four division lines can be referred to as the upper.5. the horizon falls one third of the way from the top. Also. It divides the viewfinder into nine imaginary sections. The rule of thirds involves only straight lines.48 Exquisite Curves “Rule” of Thirds The rule of thirds is not so much a rule as it is a process. . Harmonic Armature Harmonic armatures are based on the idea that viewers respond favorably to intervals of even thirds and quarters. the rule of thirds is a good start for anyone who is learning composition. The rule of thirds states that you should place your subjects and other dominant compositional elements along the division lines between the nine squares (Figure B). If it is your desire to explore armatures in the way that painters use them. The golden proportion is indicated with green lines. and multiples of those. It is the knowledge gained through an overview of multiple design methods that is of substance. More Armatures Armatures (also called frameworks or structures) range from simple to complex. A. of course. Due to varying complexity. but is much easier in practice. the rule of thirds does not suggest an order of precedence among subjects. half. there are many great photographs and other visual compositions throughout history that do not conform to this. For clarity. you need to work like a painter by creating montages in Photoshop. Since most digital camera images have a ratio of 1:1. the golden mean can be used to proportion elements more deeply embedded in the composition. To understand that lesson. they can be applied to digital compositions. The sloping hillside intersects with the lower and left division lines. left. and the horizon would be placed on one of the two longitudinal lines. and all are ways to configure an image. In this image. Dividing by thirds bears some resemblance to the golden mean. most of the various golden mean methods emphasize a primary. GIMP. It is one of the first ways that many photographers are taught to subdivide the image area. applied to the image area of a standard 24x36mm image sensor. while som e go lden mean offers the Fibonacci spiral for placement. dividing the frame into thirds instead of the golden mean is a further deviation. A subject can be aligned either through its center or along one of its edges. The following illustration (A) depicts the rule of thirds in red. The most important compositional elements would be placed on the four points created by the intersection of these lines. it can be difficult to design and execute an armature composition straight from the camera. lower. A standing subject would be placed on one of the two vertical lines. The rule of thirds and the golden mean are the two that you will most often hear discussed. three rows and three columns. and this knowledge can help you turn out satisfying images at any stage in your career. B. the frame proportion is off by about 7% from the golden mean. The center of the model's face and the center of her body fall two thirds from the left. Some photographers use the rule of thirds habitually.
In this technique. if the aspect ratio is 1:2. important elements are placed along the lines. No particular significance is placed on the intersection of these lines. this method is overkill. These harmonics also correspond to some other systems that have been discussed in this book.5. one from each corner. Finally. D. such as harmonic armature and the golden mean. the forty-five degree lines will intersect along thirds. Of the four steps listed above in harmonic armature. They will intersect the longitudinal sides halfway down the frame. This framework has been used by painters for compositions that contain a multitude of elements that must be placed in a balanced fashion.Composition 49 and three quarters. Forty-five Degree Diagonals Forty-five degree diagonals appear as a subset of several methods. the diagonals will intersect according to the golden mean as well. In the case of a square composition. Placing elements that follow all of the guides and fall at all of the intersections will create a very busy composition. connecting the halfway points of each side to the halfway point of the adjacent side (shown in orange). one extending from each corner. one through each pair of opposite corners (shown in blue in diagrams C. also called diagonal method. harmonics can be derived along the intervals of quarters and thirds by imagining horizontal and vertical lines that go through the intersections of these diagonals. The armatures depicted above are color coded into common frameworks that can be used independently.) . matching the standard digital camera sensor. next page. For simpler compositions. You can designate as few or as many of these as principle lines as you want for your design. It creates a manageable framework that consists of four lines at forty-five degree angles. four more lines are drawn. Then four more lines are drawn. Photographers will likely have to montage their images to make complex designs line up along these harmonics. intersecting the halfway point of the short sides of the frame (shown in green). four lines extend. Next. begin by dividing the image with two diagonal lines. each intersecting the halfway point of the long sides of the frame (shown in violet). If the image aspect ratio is 1:1. for example. where the soothsayer can interpret them in any of a hundred ways. following the golden ratio. Such compositions were routinely created in the middle ages using harmonic armatures. Using a harmonic armature serves to create compositional elements that radiate from the corners.618. there will be only two lines. or together. and it would be easy to unbalance the image by aligning elements to only a few harmonics. To construct a harmonic armature. to arrange subjects. Determining where elements should fall along these guidelines can be a little like reading tea leaves. The rule of thirds. towards the middle. just as in the harmonic armature. one from each corner. If the aspect ratio is 1:1. (See Figure A. this method is derived from only the second step. C. Using a harmonic armature is one way to examine the lines of your composition. can be overlaid on this structure. From this framework. as can the diagonal method. D).
A. The two points of interest. Diagonal placement is one of the methods that can be particularly interesting when applied to a square frame. Diagonal placement provides two possible variations for any given rectangular frame. The main subject can be made of various visual elements that are all arranged in a line. Golden Triangle Forty-five degree diagonals on a 1:1. you would follow only one of these diagonals. are placed in a diagonal region that extends from the upper left to lower right corners. but places no significance on the intersections of the lines.62 aspect ratio. you should still consider the visual pathway when using the rule of thirds. creating an X-shaped composition. this one places primary elements along the lines (A).50 Exquisite Curves B. . the red gloves. Unlike the forty-five degree diagonal method. or any other proportion-based armature. For example. The following are examples of each of the types of armatures previously discussed. golden mean. Do Not Forget Unlike other armatures. In most cases. This method works with simple designs where a single main subject can be placed along a single diagonal. though you could follow both. Golden triangle and pentagram used to formulate a montage. Compositional methods can and often should be combined. Diagonal Placement This is a simple principle that places lines of composition along one of the two diagonals that join opposite corners of the image (B). C. these diagonals do not form forty-five degree angles across a rectangular image. Summary of Armatures Armatures are a convenient way to help you structure a balanced composition.
Golden Rectangle. A triangular visual pathway. .Composition 51 Golden Mean. Fibonacci Spiral Triangular Pathway Golden rectangles (green lines) and Fibonacci spiral (blue line). Forty-Five Degree Diagonals Cyclical Pathway Elements of interest placed along diagonal lines that extend at a fortyfive degree angle from one or more corners.
Z-shaped. and zigzagging lines. Rule of Thirds .52 Exquisite Curves Diagonal Placement (Diagonal Method) Undulating Lines Undulating curves include S-shaped. whether they be curved or jagged.
but anywhere away from the centers or edges satisfies the general principle. • Centering the subject. As already discussed. If we subscribe to the notion that each design method has something to offer. For the rest of the scene. • Equally spacing masses. Many photographers agonize over minutia. Once you have investigated several design methods. then you have learned the underlying principles of harmony. The fact that forty-five degree diagonals are easy to apply to most designs does not suggest that there is nothing to learn from more complex armatures. this does not automatically result in better compositions. These regions are the centers of the four quadrants of the image. The finer components of major elements can either reinforce or detract from the overall image. Small. When Details Count Up to this point. I check the periphery of the figure. for example. The prevailing culprits here are flyaway hairs. These could be the tips of the hairdo. interesting distinctions. and that strict adherence to any of them is not required to learn fitting application of the fundamentals. such as textures. Next. Almost all of the design approaches herein rely on diagonals to impart a feeling of energy. and ask her to spit out her gum. but does not guarantee success. I would say that the ability to capture sharp detail only enables certain creative possibilities. • Including too many parallel lines so that they lose their power. which creates a static. fingers. • Placing lines too near the periphery. but here are some notable examples of what not to do accompanied by a diagram of each. Both positive and negative space have already been explained as broad concepts. and this is a good trait. I have divided these into composition enhancers and killers. These are easily removed with software edits. • Place the subject off-center. tame hairs. or items in the background.Composition 53 Culmination of Design Methods So what are the dominant design practices? Is the golden mean better than the rule of thirds? Does a simple framework or complex framework engender the better composition? If you recall the introduction to design methods. but there is no point in refining any detail if the larger composition is inadequate. making the composition appear busy and without a clear intention. The model’s body may contain minor blemishes or makeup errors that I will also correct. off-edge regions. a poorly placed detail can destroy a composition. The next few paragraphs explain how details in the scene affect overall design. I first look for any distractions blocking the view of the model. we can derive a few general principles. can extend a viewer's interest. these can easily be cloned out. emphasis. Sweep the floor. Those who sell photography equipment inundate us with knowledge of how well their equipment can capture fine details. we have discussed what to do. Although the golden mean may be more precise and less symmetrical than the rule of thirds. you will find that there is nothing magical about any given one. . which is seldom an interesting presentation. • Dividing the frame equally so that all the weight is on one half. and that you can combine and deviate quite a bit and still be successful. Gestalt. while a brilliant one can turn it into your latest triumph. creating a second. Subtleties can be part of the background (negative space) or part of your subject(s) (positive space). Other edge annoyances include items that protrude only a small distance from the contour of the model. • Make use of diagonal lines and placement. but balance would be precarious and require a great degree of care. as long as problems of the overall composition are resolved first. A mind-set has developed that the ability to record micro-fine information equals good photography. foliage. elbow. • Create a dominant point of interest in one of the offcenter. Note that careful modifications of these arrangements could be successful compositions. locked composition. confusing frame edge. balance. out-of-place aspects can cause distractions that can be the death of an otherwise good image. Six Potential Composition Killers So far. You can fix a well-composed image by removing distractions. In extreme cases. When reviewing an image. blend makeup. check for hair bands on the wrist. the most obvious distractions will reside in Common Composition Enhancements A number of the above methods share certain principles. but it is easier to tidy up the scene before shooting. rhythm. There are four regions that adhere to either the rule of thirds and/or the golden mean. we have discussed the broad strokes of design: how the major elements are arranged within the picture frame to create a harmonious photograph. this adheres to the Fibonacci cradle method. If you are able to assemble elements into a pleasing composition without strict faithfulness to a particular regimen. and so on. Here is a summary of principles that appear in more than one compositional method. you may correctly guess that there is no decisively superior design process. • Scattering or cluttering small masses. figure/ground. • Remember the relationship between your design and the lines of the image boundaries (the frame). and away from the edges.
At one point I acquired twenty dozen wilting roses. and pieces of wood can be fashioned together to create a set. The scene is often thought of as a background. too. foam core. her hip shifted. Unsightly wrinkles in seamless paper or an object protruding into a sky can easily be removed. such as a building or home. and it can be a single surface or multiple layers. slightly out of kilter with the frame. Beginning on page 71. privacy. or you can try your hand at painting your own if you have a knack for such things. Muslin backgrounds are available prepainted. The model is centered and her stance is static. The model is doing nothing to interact with her surroundings. Anything that is behind your model will form the background and should figure into your compositional decisions. Consider color harmony when choosing your scene. A room in a home is an example of a background. Compare this to the similar image at the top of page 79. can provide an interesting scene. Varieties of commercial backgrounds are available for use in the studio. or color. including framing elements. paper.54 Exquisite Curves expanses of solid color. The sky. and a road can make up a background. Bold colors can set a powerful mood for nude photographs. The Scene in Composition The scene is an important part of composition and deserves specific mention. The scene is the environment your subjects occupy. Interesting backgrounds can also be created in the studio. but not prominent enough to be considered subjects. Items that are near the model. For a simple remedy. and time. leaving the studio to find an interesting scene can go a long way toward enhancing a figure study. trees. Once you are comfortable with the plain studio background. Photographers tend to gravitate towards the studio for nude work. The non-converging lines of the curtain also add to the static feeling. with the model leaning back. Still. are part of the scene. or an exotic location. but it also includes the foreground and the plane that the subjects inhabit. would be better cropped out. and any object that protrudes closer to the camera than the model. light control. A background is comprised of colors. textures. This is for compositional reasons. Somber colors can draw the viewer's interest as well. and shapes. and other materials. a fabricated set. floor. . Canvases can be painted and elaborate sets can be constructed of wood. we will discuss details within the subject through nuances of the pose. Her gaze. Review Take the previous lessons into account with regard to the following image. and curtain pulled at an angle. Look for problems in this image. With some experience. Almost anything can be transformed into a set. does nothing to move the viewer through the image. see page 79. you will learn what effect background colors have on the nude subject. black. An assembly of materials. Many photographers begin with a paper or cloth background. The foreground can include walls. hills. Even your choice of light and shadow on the backdrop will influence the composition. This distracting line. Seamless paper hung from a background stand and taped to the floor can provide a very plain background for isolating the figure on white. See “Color Combinations” on page 19. try another type of background. which I spread on a backlit lattice as a backdrop for a reclining model. old doors. A non-studio location. It may be a blank studio wall. Notice the dark line created by the shadow of the curtain along the left edge of the image. A backdrop can be close or far from the model.
When a painter begins a composition. the other four levels of refinement need to be solidly in place. nebulous In-Camera Technique Though this book is not intended to be a guide to basic camera operation. your choice of focus determines the primary emphasis on one or the other. Each lens is capable of a hyperfocal distance and will typically be marked on the lens. Your model is one of your subjects. which contributes to the price. lighting. and thus are softer than the closer edges of the image. To learn the characteristics of a particular lens. not afforded to the painter or sculptor. One drawback of hyperfocal distance is that it may place the model too far away for effective framing. he/she starts with a sketch or an idea. it is just a collection of colored shapes. but other subjects can be present. The entries in this section are organized into incamera technique. Depth of Field As most photographers know. Another factor that can affect focus is your choice of lens design. Therefore. soft. before you concern yourself with details such as how a model's hair looks or which way her head is turned. you have read and practiced the preceding portions of this book. With an out-of-focus background.com/resources. portrait. Most lenses are sharpest near the center and softer near the edges. and postprocessing technique.55 Technique in Composition ext. The smallest aperture. A less-talked-about factor that affects sharpness of various parts of your subject is the edge-to-edge sharpness of your lens. as well as considerations applicable to nude composition. performed with large brushes. an important concept is that of hyperfocal distance. Remember that the image projected by the lens is circular. A lens's largest aperture. there is a natural tendency to want to have photographs with the largest. The exact distance depends on the lens model and your choice of aperture. Next is an under painting.4. The hyperfocal distance is the focal distance at which you can set a lens and all objects at that distance and further away will be in focus. you may find these processes frustrating and ineffectual. is not the sharpest one. also known as a structure. will typically exhibit the softest focus. so you can approach these techniques with the applicable context and fundamentals to achieve your purpose. or visual pathway. When you start learning about the effects of aperture on depth of field and sharpness. arrangement of the abstract masses. Fitting into the design is the third level of refinement. Before any image can be recognized. smaller apertures create greater depth of field (a larger range of in-focus areas). . Most lenses have their sharpest f-stop somewhere in the middle. but it may not be the best approach from a compositional standpoint. the one that lets in the most light. but somewhere between the middle and the smallest aperture is a sweet spot of overall sharpness. At the periphery is the choice of format. Experimentation is probably your best bet for finding out how a lens is going to perform best for you. sharpest focus and greatest depth of field are typically mutually exclusive. If you desire photographs with an in-focus background. and they do not always have consistent levels of sharpness throughout their range of zoom. Where you place key points of your subject in the frame will determine its sharpness. Only at the final stages are fine brushes useful. Zoom lenses are generally softer than fixed lenses. in part. There are degrees of refinement in a composition. Thusly. we will discuss how photographic technique relates to composition. Remember this metaphor when approaching your photography and do not skip any part of the plan. When your subject includes both foreground and background elements. a lens may have its softest aperture at f/1. Hyperfocal focusing is most effective when used outdoors.nudephotoguides. Hopefully. armature. all of which have been presented up to this point. however. there is some overlap between operating your image-making hardware and the effect it has on composition. Focus Focus can be used to direct the viewer's eye through your composition.6. by the aperture you choose. and its sharpest at f/5. Here is where the rubber meets the road. I have listed some equipment review links at www. This section contains basic in-camera techniques of focus and framing. new. Leaving a little mystery and creating some dissimilarity can make an image more interesting. with f/11 falling somewhere in-between. The photographer has unique tools. sharpest depth of field possible. The final degree is detail. The fourth level of refinement is the subject or subjects. so the longitudinal extremes of your image are further from the center. If you attempt these techniques without knowledge of the vocabulary and groundwork built in the earlier parts. or landscape. you will need to experiment or do some research. The quality of your lens also affects sharpness. This helps to reveal the most detail. The sharpness of your focus is determined. The next is an overall design. such as square. For example.
A. shapes can appear. In some cases, the most engrossing aspect of viewing a photograph can be exploring the outof-focus areas for almost subliminal images. With this soft background set against the features of your subject, you have created two planes for exploration and purposefully guided your viewer's eye. An out-of-focus foreground can produce an additional plane for exploration. Using limited depth of field for compositional purposes is called selective focus. In the image above (A), the model is about ten feet from the camera, shot through a 155mm portrait focal length with a large aperture (f/3.2). Notice that although the body is in sharp focus, the face, just a few inches closer, is not. Look closely and you can see the texture of the skin and water droplets, but the eyelashes and strands of hair on her head are a little less sharp. The rock, water, and reflections further in the background meld together nebulously. Just as there is a positive/negative relationship between figure and ground of the image, there is a relationship between sharp and unfocused areas of the image. Bokeh (pronounced bo-key, occasionally spelled Boke) is a term
(Above) Depth of field at work. (Right) Moderate fringing in the outof-focus area.
B. that describes the effect of a very out-of-focus area. This out-of-focus area is achieved by using a longer focal length lens (for example 80mm or longer) and a wide aperture, close to or at wide-open. If you use a smaller aperture, the background highlights will start to have straighter, sharper edges instead of being round and fuzzy. The greater the distance between your main subject and your background, the less the background will be in focus, so choose a setting that allows your subject to stand far from the background. The effect is relative to your distance to the subject, so the nearer the in-focus area the more out of focus a background of a given distance will be.
hand-held shots is listed under each designation. Compare these areas to the out-of-focus wildflowers in the extreme foreground. Shake-free shutter speed and angle of view for various lenses. the picture frame is an ever-present compositional element. thus compressing the appearance of perspective. Depth of field with a distant background. either by compressing the figure through pose or by cropping. The framing of an image gives the viewer a sense of how close they are to the subject. Long lenses usually have shallower depth of field than their wider counterparts. and one that fills the frame appears very close. Some less desirable Bokehs look like jittery multiple images instead of being smooth. The quality of Bokeh varies from lens to lens. Sensor size APS-C (16x24mm) 35mm (24x36mm) Medium Format (36x48mm) Wide angle 17mm 24mm 40mm Normal Lens 35mm 50mm 70mm Portrait Lens 70mm 100mm 150mm Long Lens 150mm 200mm 300mm The focal length that is considered “normal” depends on sensor size. The out-of-focus area may be more pleasing with some long lenses. Normal Lens 1/125 sec. Excessive fringing can destroy the pleasing effect you want from the unfocused area. but if the distortion is slight. 46 deg. In the previous image (C). The forest was a half-mile away. C. T he r ec o mm e nd ed m i n i m u m s hu t t e r s p e eds f or vibration-free. this can create a novel effect. we think about an image as if it were taken through a lens that approximates the vision of our own eye. Note that images using large apertures often exhibit some vignetting. 30 deg. notice the trees on the hillside in the background. Long Lens 1/400 sec. Although many focal lengths of camera lens are available. A side effect of longer lenses is the amplification of camera shake. At the extremes. This allows for tighter framing while controlling distortion. You want your subject to be free from motion blur. How much of the image area does the nude figure comprise? The human figure is easy to recognize and can be spotted even when it is only a small element of the composition. 14 deg. Short focal length (wideangle) lenses allow us to move in close to our subject so that perspective is exaggerated. which may or may not be desirable. it can simply be unflattering.g. Framing Since every photograph involves a choice of framing or cropping. Framing determines the scale of the figure in a composition. You can also create nudes that fill the entire frame. those that can obtain smaller than usual f-numbers (e. so hopefully you have a lens with a smooth Bokeh. We all have a . Portrait Lens 1/200 sec. This means there will be green halos in the further out-of-focus areas (B) and magenta halos in the closer out-of-focus areas. The contrast between soft and sharp is most noticeable at the left of the image. 90 deg. so a faster shutter speed is recommended. What constitutes a long lens depends on your camera’s sensor size. Long lenses allow us to shoot a subject from far away with tight framing. This sense of distance contributes to setting the mood of the image. f/1. where the softly focused foliage intrudes in front of her arm. are prone to Bokeh fringing at the border between light and dark areas. “Fast” lenses. The model was about thirty feet away. which were a few feet from the camera. A figure that occupies a small portion of the frame seems far away.4).Technique in Composition 57 Wide angle Shake-free shutter spd View 1/60 sec. The chart below shows focal lengths for various fields of view.
with the whole model visible and occupying fifty to sixty percent of the frame. Closer yet and the image takes on an intimate feeling. and tone. When beginning photographers attempt a full body nude. though it varies from culture to culture. Most beginning photographers who attempt a tight framing err on the side of not getting close enough to their subject. It becomes more of an aesthetic exploration than an intimate portrait. When deciding on framing. occur at this distance. As we gain magnification that is beyond what we can normally see. becomes an aesthetic study in texture. we are in the realm of social distance. the image becomes clinical or scientific in nature. This distance seems like less of a covert intrusion. examine the distance to the edge and examine elements in the corners of the frame. we B. whether painted or photographed. An image that appears to be four feet away gives an indication that we have been invited on a much more one-to-one basis. the more likely it will be seen as positive rather than negative space. since it’s implied that the model is complicit in posing. The model occupying about half of the image area. the most prevalent framing error is getting the body too close to the edge. where fine details such as hairs and pores begin to appear. . the mood changes. a distance at which we would expect the subject to be aware of our presence if the encounter were taking place in person rather than through a photograph. C. about the closest we might stand if we were having a conversation. we do not see the whole body. At only one or two feet away. shape. As we get closer. The figure as a small portion of the image space. especially if the model's posture and expression reinforce this. can give us a voyeuristic feeling. further than a few feet away. as we move closer yet. A close-up that shows just a facial feature or a hand. However.58 Exquisite Curves concept of personal space. The model as most of the image area. At a enter personal space. moderate distance. A subject that appears distant. The smaller a figure. This is the distance that is apparent in most bodyscapes. Many nude portraits. Another seemingly obvious epiphany for those new to framing is that you are not required to maintain A.
With studio lights. which is a real compositional game changer. the body takes up the majority of the frame. Your options for capturing the light you desire may only be to move your camera. In the image above (E). the model. it can create a new positive/negative space experience. However. Snoots. and cropped to produce this effect. three. When you fill the frame with nothing but the model. grids. To avoid this. The model's gaze forms a connection with the camera and. you can always shorten one dimension in postprocessing. Lighting and Shadow An awareness of the effect that light has in setting the mood will help you produce moods in your photographs. by transference. The model filling 100% of the frame. At times.Technique in Composition 59 the aspect ratio imposed by your camera. . You can make an image feel light and whimsical or dark and serious. whether it comes from a window or the outdoors. E. though it was shot from farther away with a long lens. or all four edges of the frame. Softboxes and umbrellas spread light out. Filling the frame beyond 80% is unusual. Try it and compare the compositions of your images with the frame nearly full versus completely full. you can crop the figure with one. modifiers are one of your single biggest tools for creating points of interest and building a visual pathway (see page 40). or choose a different time or place. and filling the frame 100% with the model requires effort. the viewer. With natural light. Lighting choices can create bright lines and curves set against a dark background. the most beautiful subject or intriguing pose is best displayed without any clutter. In the previous image (C). You can create drama that has immediate impact or use subtlety to invite a more serious study of your subject. You can compose an image with just a single subject and still make an interesting composition. As you fill a greater proportion of the frame with the subject. The legs of a Caucasian woman in front of the African-American woman frames her face. you lose exterior contours. One model framing the other. The impression is that we are about four feet from the model. isolating your subject on a featureless studio background without anything touching the edge of the frame risks making a fairly boring composition of a model floating in dead space. an internal frame is created by the elements of the composition. you determine which tones and colors will appear in the final image and thusly what elements exist in your composition. you must develop the skill of recognizing light qualities rather than creating them. spilling and bouncing it for well-lit surfaces. allowing you to dictate exactly what is seen. and barn doors constrict light. two. D. By your choice of light.
however. Postprocessing can be very effective in finetuning. though in a nude it can be almost too sterile. Shadows can hide more explicit parts of the body and draw attention to the flow of the lines and curves. Abundant. Notice the spike in the highlights and low amount of darks. control is achieved with the inexpensive Parabolic Lighting Modifier manufactured by Paul C. Major keys are those that include both black and white. low-key images are quite the opposite of high-key images. To produce a low-key image. employing dark backgrounds and constrained lighting. For comparison. set up your lights with barn doors and snoots to control light spill. minor keys have all but ceded the limelight to major keys and there is little popular discussion of the former. They can be a more aesthetically pleasing and a less revealing way to present In addition to high and low keys. An image with more midtones than lights or darks. A high-key image and corresponding histogram.60 Exquisite Curves High-Key and Low-Key Images High-key images contain predominantly light tones. A silver umbrella placed behind the model and aimed toward her will produce an edge light. nighttime. The following lighting diagrams show the generous flood of light for high-key (E) and restrained light for low-key (F) photographs. a more typical lighting setup (G) lacks these extremes. For an explanation of histograms. brooding and mysterious or seductive. (See “The Zone System” on page 65. Remove or cover any light surfaces that will bounce more light than C. spreading light is known as spill. Lowkey images remind us of bad weather. Buff. . These more delicate tonal renditions do. photographic tonalities have traditionally been divided into major and minor keys. Devices like softboxes spread light widely.) These tonal concepts apply to both grayscale and full color images. the body. while minor keys do not. have their place and are quietly celebrated by those who appreciate nuance. Nudes that do not show too much have a mysterious allure. and then you may achieve the d e s i r e d d a r k n e s s in Photoshop. soft light makes for high-key photographs. Keep in mind that shadow area has plenty of noise. Neutral or monochromatic highkey images can give a feeling of cleanliness. A low-key image may contain tones predominantly from zones four B. dramatic. and secrets. The mood of high-key can feel like going outside on a summer day or a winter day. It can be from high-key. In the low-key image at left. Notice the histogram is almost inverted through nine. so pay attention not to underexpose the images. see “Color Interpretation” on page 17. As you might expect. Compare the high-key (A) and low-key (B) to the image with a full tonal range (C) and the image with drab tones (D) (mostly middle tones but few lights and darks). depending on the predominant hues of the image. is needed to give a hint of detail in the shadows. An image with mostly midtones. The background needs to be light for A. high-key. A high-key image may contain tones predominantly from zones one through six. Seen as antiquated and less D. A low-key image.
Technique in Composition
Backlighting can produce a dramatic shift from the typical front-lit image. The technique can be subtle, such as a separation light, which is a light behind the model that creates a brighter edge along the subject to create better contrast with the background. The backlight can illuminate anywhere from a narrow sliver to a substantial area of the model. All back lighting has the effect of dark subject against a lighter background. The edge lighting in the low-key image on the previous page (B) is one implementation of backlighting. Extreme backlighting creates a silhouette. Also see “Silhouettes” on page 107 in the Shooting Assignments section.
Lighting setup used to create the high-key effect (A) on the previous page.
Flare can be a problem when using backlight. Flare can reduce contrast and wash out the color saturation when non-image forming light directly strikes the lens. Use a lens hood or some other object to flag the lens when possible. Keep your lens clean too. Some lenses handle backlighting better by exhibiting less flare and ghosting. In a backlit scene, the background is better lit than the foreground.
Light as an Element
Edge lighting setup used to create the low-key effect (B) on the previous page.
G. A workaday lighting setup with a main light, fill reflector, and
H. Light can be used as a design element. A gelled light on a boom
arm illuminates the background.
62 Exquisite Curves Overlaps in lighting will create composite colors or wash out the gelled color. Make sure the gel is large enough to cover the entire light. but it might not render the color or intensity that you desire. A gobo is a metal cut-out used to project shapes on the background or model. Restrictors such as snoots. high output can create heat. while do-it-yourselfers can tape the gels across the strobe reflector. . you can create hues with lighting gels. Use extreme care with electrical equipment around water. this will reduce spill onto the background and make the background light contrasted more and more dramatic. If you add flags or barn doors to the other lights. the light will change shape. A behind-the-scenes look at a very simple way to control light. and barn doors are essential when working with gels. a red gel is placed on a light resting on the floor behind the model. A gel will restrict the flow of air around the flash tube. Cautions If you are using hot lights. They are available from theater and photographic lighting suppliers. In this case. such as lines. If you attach a grid to the reflector. Gels are colored. by using light. You can use other materials to change the color of a light. A scrim is a translucent material that partially blocks light. A. Gels differ from other colored plastics in that they are engineered to transmit a particular color of light without unduly reducing the light output. contributing to heat build-up. In confined studios. aimed at the background. If you are placing colored light only on the background. and shapes. You can create compositional elements. any gaps will contribute to washout. Some systems provide gel holders. only use gels and holders that are specifically designed for them. A flag is an opaque panel for blocking light. textures. avoid umbrellas and softboxes which tend to spill a lot of light onto gelled areas. a cone of light can easily be projected onto background paper using a standard reflector. The open doorway allows a rectangle of light to reflect in the pool of water. grids. Color of Light When experimenting with color harmony in composition. For example. Even with strobes. translucent plastic that come in sheets or rolls. a good deal of separation between foreground and backdrop will reduce the effect of spillover from your subject lights. More complex light projections can be produced with either commercially manufactured or improvised equipment. B.
A vignette that is too heavy will not look like normal light falloff and it can be distracting. There are countless software techniques that will produce a vignette. Moving it to the left contracts it. When you remove hue variations. The word grisaille means shades of single color. Vignetting. you want only gradients. deselect the conversion to grayscale. choose auto. you can see the full range of tonalities that are not apparent in a color image. You can open the image with the effects as a smart layer for further adjustment. light room. Darkening the edges. Examples of vignettes include image H on page 61. Even after the advent of color pigments for paint. 4. 2. artists produced grisaille paintings. Adobe Camera Raw has two simple methods for controlling vignette: under the Lens Corrections menu and Post-Crop Vignetting under the Effects menu. you can shape the vignette according to your main subject or other elements of your composition. black and whites evoke feelings of elegant. whether desired or not. and shapes. 6. 1. An untinted black and white photograph is also called achromatic. If you plan to work in color. Most vignettes are oval in shape and correspond to the proportions of the image. especially gray. Excessive vignetting tends to become a distraction. either black and white or a tint. The first photographs were monochrome. You can use a mask to selectively control the intensity of the vignette. I will list the prerequisite skills. An improperly matched lens hood or filter system can also encroach on the corners or edges of the image. You can switch back to color before importing. 3. Monochrome images communicate a deliberate attention to composition through the photographer's decision to exclude the color information. this one can be applied so subtly that few. Moving the brightness slider right (brighter) expands tonal range. Select conversion to grayscale. If you are planning to work in color. The following require knowledge of making adjustments in Camera RAW. can help draw the viewer into the center of a photo. The latter lets you choose between highlight (my favorite). Moving the black point to the right (more black) contracts tonal range.Technique in Composition 63 Postprocessing Effects There are plenty of general tutorials available for postprocessing. Move exposure slider to compensate for taking advantage of highlight detail. Falloff from your light source can also create darker edges to the photograph. especially if there are peripheral distractions. Adjust tone curve for pleasing middle tones. choose the default (flat) grayscale mix. Alternately. if any. and paint priorities. If you plan to work monochromatic. now viewing it in color. 8. the addition of a vignette may alleviate the problem. 7. can be a by-product of various equipment factors. Monochrome A monochrome image is one rendered in a single color. classic photography. Adjust brightness and black point to expand or contract the tonal range as needed. Be especially careful with a humanshaped vignette. Some lower quality lenses exhibit vignetting at certain extreme aperture settings. and to the left expands it. Look out for solid blocks of black or white. Controlling Contrast Make sure you are familiar with the Zone System (page 65). Adobe Camera RAW.” Then apply the vignette using the lens correction filter.). consider how well . Putting an image in monochrome reduces it to its abstract composition of lines. Vignettes A vignette is a darkening of the edges of an image. Like most effects. Adjust recovery of highlights until desired detail is restored. One of the advantages of creating monochrome images is that it provides you with a great deal of control over contrast in postprocessing. I will provide you with some concise steps for techniques that are particularly relevant to nudes or that may be difficult to research. this will help you get the tonalities correct without being distracted by color. If something is not explained in a passage. viewers will consciously notice. When encountering lowcontrast situations out of the studio. since you can dictate virtually any contrast palette with your lighting. You can download more information and example Photoshop files for many of the effects from the reader’s links. Make further adjustments to the image. If you would rather not create the effect in Camera RAW. You do not want uniform tones in your image. See “Reader’s Links” on page 112 for the URL and password. you can create a vignette in Photoshop as follows: Create a new white fill layer and set the blend mode to “multiply. if necessary. to better understand contrast. revisit the grayscale mix and fine-tune it.g. Set the white balance. even if you intend to work in color. This is not an extreme benefit in the studio. etc. tones. Open RAW image in converter software (e. Use your reference photo. 9. In a photograph where elements tend to lead the viewer out of the frame. 5. and the user’s guide for editing software covers most of the functions discussed in this section. color. If you are working monochromatic. Monochrome removes the image a bit from reality. so we are more compelled to see it as an aesthetic presentation.
provided they were properly exposed. but at other times. This way you will have the option to adjust the various color channels when making the conversion. More subtle effects are typically more beneficial. An obvious disadvantage of a monochrome image is that you lose the ability to direct the viewer's attention with contrasting color. It may help to use nearly black or white. skin color is rarely uniform throughout the body. The decision to include or exclude color should be made on a per-scene basis. . you should start with a full-color. consider how much the composition relies on color elements. Observe the difference between a warm and cool tint. Explore the following: • Various combinations of sliders on black and white adjustment layer. It will take some trial and error before you are proficient at visualizing the outcome. it can significantly enhance visual communication. Before deciding on a monochromatic treatment. Some images are more effective with the color information removed. Some of those “poorly lit” shots may make excellent monochromes. It varies in the amounts of red and yellow.64 Exquisite Curves they will lend themselves to monochrome conversion. Try cool shadows and warm highlights. Monochrome Conversion Exercise Import an image into Photoshop. For one. There are also a few caveats to pay attention to when contemplating monochrome images. Although counter-intuitive. and there are even blue portions due to veins near the skin. When shooting an image you intend to convert to monochrome. A good place to start experimenting is with existing images you have shot under less than ideal light. but could also cause skin to look blotchy. color distracts from your intention. using editing software. you may need to apply color correction so you have a homogenous skin tone prior to converting to monochrome. When color mapping. A gradient map discards the original color information in an image and replaces it with hues of your choice. The gradient mapping filter in Photoshop produces a false color effect. Try another with an unsaturated tone (black or white) into a warm or cool tone. beware of banding effects and abrupt color changes that can appear garish. It has the added benefit of allowing you to direct the eye using false color. Color Mapping To try a colorful effect with similar compositional benefits to monochrome. RAW-mode file. Now and then. Monochrome conversion can smooth these variations. mapped to the monochrome values of the image. instead of a completely unsaturated tone. • Apply a tint. This has the same effect form as a black and white image by removing distracting color and pushing the viewer to concentrate on forms. apply a gradient map. but I recommend doing it later. Some cameras will perform a black and white or sepia conversion at exposure time. and a strong or muted saturation.
and the photographer will have precise control over the process of mapping a particular tone in the scene to a tone in the final image. Darkest discernible texture. The zone system improves the likelihood of consistently producing a planned result with monochromatic and full color images. The dynamic range of an image is a measure of the difference between the darkest and lightest tones. White. however. Each zone can be represented in the final image. Archer (American. represent the brightness of various parts of an image. No detail. For example. Middle gray. The Zones Description RGB Value Texture Details Black. the model’s figure is rendered in a compressed range to give it a soft effect. called the zone system. Near black. the RGB value is the midpoint value for that zone. you have not captured the fullest dynamic range possible. The point is to render values where you want them to be. respectively. light sources. of zero and two hundred fifty-five. March 1981. Eleven zones. not to reproduce what is seen through your eye. Zero represents black and ten is white. roman numerals were used. Thus. Zone one covers RGB values from 1 to 28. The shadow areas are lighter and less contrasting than in the original scene to provide texture detail. in the previous image. Light gray. Everything in between is a shade of gray. Mid-light gray. Except zones zero and ten. To create the minor-key effect above. glare. be adapted to suit the needs of digital photography. invented by Ansel Adams (American. each zone contains a range of tones approximating 28 RGB values. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Zone black shadows shadows shadows midtones midtones midtones highlights highlights highlights white no no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes 0 15 43 71 100 128 156 184 213 9 10 no no 241 255 The previous table maps the zone system values to the average RGB value for each zone. you will want to use a process that does not sacrifice important image information.” ~ Ansel Adams. 1902—1984) and Fred R. Very dark gray. Medium. “The Negative” There is a system for creating images with a full tonal range. Originally. still no detail. It was developed for the characteristics of black and white film photography. Lightest discernible texture. . Tone of well-lit. In order to achieve good tonality. No detail. dark gray. Near white. zones 1 through 9 are used. 1889—1963).Technique in Composition 65 The Zone System “For me the future of the image is going to be in electronic form. Zones one and ten correspond to a single RGB value each. Well-lit Caucasian skin. Specular highlights. zone two covers values from 29 to 57. numbered zero through ten. Trying to map a poorly exposed image onto a full dynamic range can produce a distracting defect Images do not need to have all eleven zones. primary shadow details. If the tones of your image occupy only zones two through eight. It can. Reflected highlights on light skin. Well-lit dark skin. Shadow side of Caucasian skin. fair skin.
Working Paths. This exercise will require that you first know how to use the following Photoshop tools: Layers. and then darken the image during postprocessing. Before you do this. You will perform two types of isolations: hard edge and soft edge. I zoom in to double or quadruple regular pixel size and painstakingly draw curves around the figure. Banding. you need to create a duplicate layer of your original image so you can work hard and soft isolations separately. it is an effective practice to expose as brightly as you can. It gives you the greatest latitude in producing pleasing tones and reduces shadow noise. Just press the undo key or use the history Expose to the Right: How and Why Digital sensors are unforgiving of both under and over exposure. However. Pen (both curves and straight lines). you may wish to process the background separately from the model. The trick is knowing what those upper limits are. It will take patience to complete your first isolation. Soft edges include hair. Hard edges are along sharply focused areas of the body. but you will pick it up if you keep trying. but these are frequently counterproductive.” This technique will help you capture the most usable image information by using the vast capability of the lighter exposure areas. you have three channels of information. This irregularity is most noticeable in the shadow areas of zones one through three. but some strands at the edge need to remain for the hairstyle to look correct. You will use masks to hide the background in each one: a vector mask for the hard edges and a layer mask for the soft edges. Not only does the clipping warning kick in well before any real danger. Some images benefit from preparing the edges of the hair prior to isolation. Vector Mask. you should be able to create the tonal range you want within your subject by adjusting the lighting. This can be frustrating if you do not have a lot of experience with the pen tool. and so on. shadows where the body contacts a surface. Isolating Images Isolation is the process of separating a figure from its background. Select hard edges using the pen tool in Photoshop. Avoiding such defects is an important reason to take advantage of the full capture capability of your image sensor at exposure time rather than trying to fix each image later with software. To make matters more complicated. one for each primary color: red. This is often called “exposing to the right. highlights can be darkened to take advantage of the upper ranges of the sensor. The darkest EV and its neighbors have hardly any ability to capture information. white background. For these reasons. Half of the total image-holding ability of the sensor is in the brightest EV. Your camera may have a clipping warning that flashes areas of the image it thinks are overexposed. in order to achieve a more appealing tonal range. An exposure of a digital image can only capture a subset of all the possible tones that can be produced by a combination of subjects and light. It’s easy to isolate a figure that’s already on an evenly-lit.66 Exquisite Curves called banding. Most importantly. In the studio. You may want to do this because you have a busy background or as a preliminary step to creating a composite image. If you do not have a plain background. The second brightest EV contains a quarter of the information and the third brightest EV contains only an eighth. As long as you do not overexpose the information. and edges that are out of focus. Layer Mask. For these reasons. you will have less control. . History. occasionally called quantification noise or posterization. Stray hairs can be removed and not missed. is an abrupt change in tones instead of a smooth gradient. green. Since most photographs contain both hard and soft edges. they do a much better job capturing highlight data than shadow information. without overexposing. The image sensors recording range can be divided into EVs (exposure values) that correspond to one f-stop each. I actually get worried if the clipping warning is not flashing in the white parts of the image. and blue. darker areas will be plagued by more background noise. you will need to isolate the model. With outdoor lighting and scenery. but I am also willing to sacrifice a small amount of highlight detail in areas that I want to remain pure white.
Make sure to expand the selection to include soft edges. Isolation Process for Soft Edges 1. You need to know how to click and drag the pen to create a curve. 4.Technique in Composition 67 panel if you need to backtrack several steps. 9. choose Refine Edge. Brightly contrasting backdrops do not work well for two reasons: any missed or blended pixels will stick out like a sore thumb and they tend to reflect a color cast onto the model. From the Select menu. or single-click it on angle points. Composites (Montages) A composite. If in doubt. check “decontaminate colors. You will usually benefit by setting Shift Edge to minus 10%. Click on “show radius” to examine areas that have been painted or erased from the edge. 10. such as hairs. Select a photo that has a backdrop suitable for easy isolation. Uncheck “show radius” and repeat steps 7-9 as necessary. Select an appropriate image and perform any adjustments to prepare it for isolation (see above). Take care and do not compromise precision for speed. is when you create one image by combining two or more separate photographs. 2. 4. “new layer with a mask. Use Refine Radius tool to paint in the areas that need a softer edge. Use the pen tool to trace the edges of the figure. Adjust the feather setting on the mask until the edges blend well with the sur- Use the pen tool to make paths for isolation.” 13. Isolation Process for Hard Edges 1. 11. 5. even if the figure runs off the edge of the document. A simple composite would be to add a background to a figure shot against a plain backdrop to make it look like it was shot somewhere other than a studio. This is what we'll use for our first compositing exercise. you can layer them to create a composite. so I can adjust the way they blend independently from the opaque portions of the figure. I typically isolate shadows and translucent areas of hair separately. then clean up the mask as needed. 3. Make sure you close the path. 8. In out-of-focus areas. For any softly blended areas. Original backdrops that are close to skin tone are also helpful. Zoom in to where you can clearly see the areas that need refinement. as long as you can distinguish the entire edge of the body. To add a background. Use the pen-path to create a vector mask so the original background disappears. begin with an image that has been isolated (see previous section). 2. the body will blend with the background. Inspect. remember to use a duplicate image layer. Set view mode against black (contrasts with a light background). 7. This exercise will require that you first read the instructions for the following Photoshop tools: Layers and Layer Masks. err on the side of cutting into the figure by one or two pixels. 3. . out-of-focus edges. or montage. Name it “soft-edge isolation” and use the following process. following the instructions in the next section. Use Eraser to remove any mistakes you made with the Refine Radius tool. such as strands of hair or drop shadows. Undo any mistakes and correct them. You may want to do this to create a new composition by precisely placing elements that you have photographed individually. With these two isolated areas (soft and hard edges). A composite gives you the same degree of control that a painter has.” 12. Be careful in the shadow areas and around hair. 5. This will help blend any missed or blended pixels with the new background. but this will depend on how the Selection identified the boundary between your subject and background. Select the output option. 6. or shadows where the figure touches a surface. If background color is reflected onto the edges of model. 6. Make a Quick Selection of the model. Zoom in to 200% or 400% so that you can be precise. It helps if the original backdrop is a solid color close to that of the new background you plan to add.
In montage. only to later be revered in the context of a longer history. Artists who are not photographic technicians. Uelsmann (American. It is helpful to use a temporary background of a strongly contrasting color to check for and adjust any imprecise areas in the isolation path. Techniques that are more progressive include applying layered textures that affect various elements to different degrees. create the vector mask exactly along the outline of the figure. The bottom layer should not have a layer mask. allegorical montages. Photographers in the 1800s undertook the technique of combination printing. If you have a drop shadow. erase the shadow from your subject layer. Some History Artists such as Henry Peach-Robinson (English. You can create copies of the image layer. until Queen Victoria legitimized it by buying one of his formerly termed “indecent” photographs and presenting it to Prince Albert. some of which included the nude form. . create a layer below your subject layer and set it to multiply. Added backgrounds can be as simple or complex as you like. adjust the vector mask of the hard-edge layer so that it is smaller and allows the feathered parts of the soft areas to show. which means splicing various film negatives together and then using a method called contact printing to transfer them to photographic paper in a darkroom. 1830-1901) and Oscar Gustave Rejlander (Swedish. many of the pioneers of photomontages were lambasted by the art world. it is advised that you examine the entire isolated edge at no less than 200% magnification to make sure there are no leftover pixels from the previous background. b. Rejlander's work contained nudity. Complex backgrounds are usually easier to blend in with your subject because the details hide small gaps. 1813—1875) lead the way with photomontage in the 1800s. Next. apply textures to each. Jerry N. This gives the impression of a common surface. You may need to make the soft edge mask smaller than the figure to keep it from bleeding through. so there will be no gaps in the image. such as David Hockney (British. Anywhere you need a soft edge. Every so often. which was initially considered “indecent” by some of the viewing public—that is. and then use layer masks to control which textures affect each design element. When adding a simple background.68 Exquisite Curves rounding image. The hard isolation layer belongs above the soft-isolation layer. Montage did not begin with digital photography or computers. have employed the photomontage technique to produce works that would be exhibited in museums. visual elements interact with one another to convey a message. Ironically. 1934) became famous and respected in his own lifetime for his phantasmal. Some photomontages echo the bizarre other worlds of Surrealism of Salvador Dali. Later. Anywhere you need a hard edge. born 1937). You may even wish to throw part of the background out of focus to emphasize the subject and make the effect more realistic. Homogenizing the Surface You can homogenize a montaged image by applying a texture to the entire image during postprocessing.
The healing patch tool is effective at replacing stubbly texture with smooth skin. such as tree leaves. Nevertheless. Hair. Textures that exist at exposure time may look better with a little postprocessing help to give them coverage that is more complete. Favor larger sample sizes when using the Sample (Eyedropper) tool. in practice. depending on how large the available area is. it is best to start with very conservative retouching. Name the layers accordingly so you can easily keep track of them. Fine-tune the masks so that everything looks believable. it can also remove flyaway hairs. background. retouching with the clone tool. you will learn what the range of characteristics is and you can combine the best of all you have seen. Because of this. The clone tool can remove distractions from the background or debris from the floor. Set to a hardness of 50%. make sure that no surfaces near the sharpest focal distance have been blurred. Retouching Skin. False Depth of Field If you are adept at using layers. shadows under the eyes. Example Photoshop file. despite careful planning. As a final check. selection refinement and masks in Photoshop. and err on the side of the original appearance. it is also not always possible to create the precise lighting effects you want in the studio. See page 112. Apply a slight Gaussian blur to the background and foreground layers. Even models have quirks. but do not accidentally make your model look like her skin was manufactured in a doll factory. Any area that is hidden in all three of the above layers will show the blurry far-background. It would be a shame for overzealous retouching to make a natural-looking model appear that she has had botched cosmetic surgery. there is just too much visual information to process on the fly for you to notice every potential distraction. Beauty is a rarity that inhabits the far end of the spectrum of appearance. a studio photograph should not require any lighting corrections. and skillful lighting. For a realistic effect. Leave the model's appearance unaltered. Then.Technique in Composition 69 At exposure time. Do not use a mask on the far background layer because it will be the bottom layer in the stack. . you want to increase only the blur of already out-of-focus areas. It will require considerable time with the clone tool to remove this edge halo from the blurred background. do not remove all of it. Apply a greater degree of blur to the far background layer. or altering details. create four layers: model. After you have worked with a number of models. You do not want to create something that does not look anatomically correct. Even with a high-quality model. careful planning. thin eyelashes. In theory. The next step is to adjust the masks for the foreground and background layers so that the appropriate areas of each are visible. and far background. It can also result from light being broken up while it passes through an incomplete barrier. A texture can also be reflected onto the model by a surface. Other items you may wish to correct include poorly blended makeup. In addition to retouching textures like skin and hair. unless you want your model to no longer look like a real person. foreground. isolating with the selection tools. The same goes for variations in pores and skin coloration. Choose an image that has objects both in front of and behind the model. The healing brush tool can fix out-of-place hairs within a hairdo. The effect may look best if the foreground layer has slightly less blur than the background. and odd shadows. but rather that he or she does too much of a good thing. so when removing body hair. or tiny blemishes. such as water ripples. there will be occasions when you will want to retouch some element of the photograph. and Backgrounds Retouching is the process of using software to enhance a photograph by removing. but extreme retouching produces freakish caricatures. Although a heavily retouched look is desired by some. There are a number of tools available to retouch skin. The first step is to isolate the model using a layer mask (see the section on isolation). Sample the color of your subject using a sample size that is larger than a single point. Detailed instructions for using these tools are well documented in the appropriate software manuals and various tutorials. whether it is to minimize a nose or enlarge a breast. tattoos. One of the most frequent rookie mistakes is not that the retoucher doesn't know what to do. Establish a limit before you start retouching. Reduce these to a believable level. adding. Retouching differs from special effects in that it aims to create a convincingly realistic photograph. Use the brush tool set on color mode and between 60 and 80% coverage to remove the fringing with multiple strokes. you may need to recolor the edges of highlight areas to remove chromatic aberration (color fringing). Everyone has body hair. Pay particular attention not to allow the image of the model on the blurred layers to be visible around the edges of her body. Be very careful when altering the contours of the body. The liquefy tool can help correct oddly lying strands of hair. You will need a sharp edge around the model where she borders the background. you can create an artificially decreased depth of field. I use sample sizes that range anywhere from 11x11 to 51x51. a texture can be projected onto the model with special lighting equipment called a gobo projector.
It is by mixing filters with your shooting style that your work with filters is distinguished from faddish-looking images. it is not recognizable as a human form. lighting. Use opacity. though some can be accomplished in-camera by choice of vantage point. more information is captured. we can use nonobjective and nonrepresentational interchangeably. a view camera. Most abstraction is performed through digital editing. When we choose a lens that distorts the image. Most of the time. For our purposes. blend modes. A photographer with a 6-megapixel camera and a low-quality lens cannot capture every detail of his/her subject because the equipment lacks resolving power. we typically mean it has crossed a certain threshold that shows the photographer intended a departure from representational photography. although it is obvious that some details are missing or distorted. The degree of abstraction can be described as objective or nonobjective. the subject is recognizable. Once in a while. Even when we step up to an 80megapixel digital back. With a 40-megapixel camera and a professional lens. and the finest lens. GIMP. you will need to layer filters to achieve the effect you want. they can be abstract and consist of a few semi-recognizable forms. and other software have numerous filters and other tools for abstracting images. we are technically creating abstraction. in other words all works of art. are abstractions of reality. Objective abstraction: although this image is intentionally unfaithful to reality. Spend the requisite amount of time to achieve an effect that is tailored to the particular photograph you are working on. Objective abstraction: although the forms are distorted in shape and texture. will only produce an abstraction of his or her subject. Consider how any painter. though in the world of abstract art they have slightly different meanings.70 Exquisite Curves Abstracting with Software All renderings. . a simple filter can quickly transform a photograph into an interesting portrayal. the pursuit of resolving power needs only continue until you have captured what you intend to show. However. no matter how realistic he or she strives to be. details are omitted. even slightly. when we call a piece of art abstract. and focus. Non-objective abstraction: although some body curves remain. I recommend making multiple layers. subject. and applying one or more filters to each layer. the subject is recognizable. These can be used in limitless combinations. Nonobjective abstraction means the image contains pure compositional elements that cannot readily be identified. but not every pore and fine hair is rendered. Nudes do not have to be realistic or elaborate. Nevertheless. this notion requires a shift in thinking. Do not use software as a quick fix for dull images. For most beginning students of design. Particular effects come into and out of vogue. and masks to control how and where each filter layer is applied to your composition. Objective abstraction simply means that the subject can be identified. Photoshop.
This chapter contains numerous example poses. this is her stance. This can be as simple as a gaze from the model. This four-anda-half inch statue was discovered in Austria and is believed to be at least twenty-five thousand years old. The model is very much akin to an actress in that she is playing a role and also is an instrument of communication.” The earliest nude photographs. kneeling. Similar to an actress. It is the model’s job to strike a pose. such as Alfred Cheney Johnston (American. It was not until later that the taboo of having a live female model began to subside. The photographer’s contributions include decisions about vantage point and timing the shutter release. In front of the camera. Another famous. but also posture and facial expression. it should be firm and slender without thereby appearing to be thin. a desirable pose exaggerates appealing traits while still looking plausible. pose means any arrangement of the model’s body. the pose is often the most powerful element to communicate context to the . For example. It is only through preparation and practice that the body is trained to convey a visual message. An expression gives a clue to the model’s perceived intentions. Subtleties in her body language tell us that she’s about to touch the fabric. or lying. The elements of a pose include stance.” they typically mean it looks artificial or contrived. nudes were one of the first subjects of photography as well. However. It is obvious when a model is committed to a pose. 1885—1971). When someone says a shot looks “posed. She may be instructed and coached by the photographer or art director. predictably. It is up to the photographer to give feedback so she stays correctly lit. and expression. what you capture will be partly the model’s individuality. The following ambiguous assessment of what makes for an ideal nude model is attributed to a pupil of painter Francois Boucher (French. Skilled models can achieve the exact pose you ask of them while still looking natural. Renaissance artists such as Sandro Botticelli (Italian. a model can be standing with her arm reaching towards some flowing fabric.C. We are all capable of different behaviors based on circumstance. ancient piece of art is a fertility figure.. In many instances. as well as discussion of posing techniques. An action is a movement or implication of movement. Photographers. posing is a performance that is a mixture of reality and invention. However. Make no mistake. the female nude was not celebrated in art. Subtle differences in timing or camera angle make the difference in getting the spot-on facial expressions and nuances of athletic form that make a pose work. Just as some actors lend their own personalities to a character. Just as photography is an abstraction of reality. Anything that describes the position of the body is part of the stance. The photographer’s task is also to use his vantage point to make sure the model knows how she looks in the light. were produced not long after the refinement of photographic technique (daguerreotypes) in the early 1800s. The word “pose” has multiple meanings. posing is both an athletic and a mental endeavor. a stone statue of a nude female. To master even the most relaxed-looking poses requires full body awareness and physical control. she communicates the intended spirit and attitude through subtleties of body language and facial expression. regardless of whether it looks forced or candid. In nude photography. known as the Venus of Willendorf. Some History The oldest known work of figurative art is an ivory statue of a woman with exaggerated feminine features.). the word can also be used in the phrase “a candid pose. For our purposes. But a well-versed model imparts more than her own identity by blending in her knowledge of body language. It was discovered in a German cave and is believed to be thirty-six thousand years old. Discussion of Posing Posing is a primary pillar of modeling photography. rather than retracting her arm from it.71 Posing he female body has been an inspiration for artists long before the invention of photography.. In classical Greek times (5th to 4th centuries B.” meaning the opposite. 1703—1770): “We must not think of a woman's body as a covering for bones. created nudes that survive today. She may have a hand on her hip or a knee to the ground. as in the case of running or jumping. It can also be implied by props or interactions with the environment of the scene. It is the arrangement of the body and includes not only the position of the torso and limbs. a model departs from her routine mode of physical expressiveness. Naturally. Many poses throughout history and up to the present have sought to do the same thing. She may be standing. it should not be fat though. Her expression can tell us that she wants to touch the fabric. The female form would have to wait until the Renaissance to appear widespread in paintings. actions. Stance is the way the model is positioned in the scene. 1445—1510) and Michelangelo (1475—1564) did not work from nude female models. Activity can be implied by the stance and be inseparable from it. Both of these statues amplify features that were considered desirable for females of that time period. but her performance is what ultimately creates the pose.
“Stand sideways to the camera. with one shoulder turned away and the weight on the back foot. Assuming you are not a documentary photographer. The model is the primary subject. pinup. Instruct the model through a range of motions. and.72 Exquisite Curves viewer. In addition. place the ball on the ground again. versus realizing an aesthetic vision. keep in mind that a little experimentation may be a better way to achieve the pose you want. try to pull the viewer in. a ball will work well. today. there is more to modeling than flattering images. There are many techniques that state the model must always tip her head or shift her weight in a certain direction. can benefit from a warm-up with some draped or discrete shots. The pose is often linked to the genre of photography you are producing. Somewhere between the candid photograph and the stiffly posed one is the convincing pose. suggest specific. typical advice assumes you are making portraits that the sitter will pay you for. I rather encourage you to depart from the formulaic approaches to achieve your own style. then tell her to hold the pose. Most of the techniques contained are intended to help non-nude. Much of the photographic posing advice you run across may be about making regular women look more beautiful. When you read some “magic” recipe for posing. The pose tells the viewer what is going on in the model's mind and in the photographer's mind. What works eighty percent of the time still leaves you improvising for the other twenty percent. make them see a story. on occasion. Nothing is worse than a stiff. glamour. Posing exercises can result in some creative images. The result is a photo of someone transparently posing for a photo. For example. models or not. Assuming you are working with a qualified model. “Place your right hand on your right hip. many portraiture-posing techniques will not be applicable. Then. It can be interesting to photograph your model while she is engaged in some other activity. Although exploring these techniques can be informative. Wrapped fabric is an alternative. In this one. I also mean paying attention to what mood she communicates. Let the model know you are going to evoke a mood with . unmistakable that the photographer told the model what to do. or documentary (meaning unposed nudes). Posing deserves special attention in nude photography for at least two reasons. It is one of the most powerful visual elements that directs the viewer’s eye through the image. Posing is integral to composition. There are several strategies for creating convincingly natural poses. and posing is central to this partnership. For example. much of the general photographic advice you will encounter outside this book is about making women look good with their clothes on. If the model does not get a complicated pose exactly the way you want. grace is something that can hardly be learned if it is lacking completely. a more passive look. just as much of beauty is innate. is the only compositional element. decades ago. to tell the story you must collaborate with the model. direct her to make a small change. was considered feminine. Use simple and clear verbal directions to fine-tune the pose. a physical object occupies the model's thoughts. Moreover. The advice herein is for making beautiful women look their best. a pose looks best when it appears natural.” Once the model has achieved the basic pose. Mention a body part and describe what the model needs to do to achieve the desired pose. The range of poses is virtually limitless. Props or furniture can help the model feel more comfortable and focus her attention on something other than a naked feeling. grab the ball from the floor. The model is also a collaborator with the photographer. and are good to loosen up the model by getting her mind on a structured activity. For example. you will find some ideas and inspiration for coming up with your own poses. In this section. are unique. which will be explained further on in this book. a more aggressive stance is sometimes preferred to convey the individuality of a female model. Although candid photography and nude photography do not regularly overlap. Try non-frontal angles of view. Evolving into a pose can be easy and encouraging for the model. Be aware that these methods are tied to the style of their time. Working with the Whole Model A model’s skill in posing is arguably as important to your photograph as her inherent beauty. the combination is not unheard of. it will be your words. Posing Exercise #1: The Object Perhaps the easiest interaction is to have the model occupy her thoughts with manipulating a small object. As a rule. By capturing the whole model. Side or back shots can be mixed in to help the model warm up. fake-looking pose due to nervousness or lack of inspiration. non-models hide problem areas. One drawback of warming up with clothed shots is the lines that clothing can leave on skin.” Posing Exercise #2: Personification In the previous exercise. clear refinements as needed in order to perfect the pose. then move your right foot a few inches to your right. Keep shooting and directing small changes to the pose until you have the exact pose you want. and stand back up. Repeat this a few times and I'll photograph as you move. Warm-Up Poses Modeling nude for the first time. Instead. such as fine art. The images look staged. All women. A pose does not have to be deliberate to be attentiongrabbing. then. There is no onesize-fits-all posing advice and no sure-fire rules of thumb. Of course. I mean paying attention to every physical detail. Although the model may share that vision. Beware when reading portraiture guides. take a shot. Many poses fail to do this because it is obvious that the model is being directed. or even the tenth time.
For example. athletic pose. the diverging characteristics between males and females. stray hairs. describe a mood. Once you complete the initial exercise. or props. Try various sets of rules until the model’s mind shifts to just thinking about posing. have the model set it aside. making taller women more attractive. Resist being absorbed in the best parts of a pose. model and background. I have noticed that models get into these exercises with their whole bodies. Women’s shoulders are not as broad and are less muscular.” The “Feminine” Pose A feminine pose is one that selectively accentuates those feminine-form attributes that distinguish it from a male form. Would it follow that shorter women are more attractive? We know it does not. give the model time to recall various routines. expression. the rules could be to crouch with exactly one hand. Posing Exercise #3: Furniture Another easy interaction is to provide two or more posing items or other small pieces of furniture. Then.” and “Imagine you are floating. A mental checklist can help: a hair band on the wrist. Female hips are broader than men's in comparison to their waistlines. Posing Exercise #6: Phantom Prop If you have a model who is “blocked” in coming up with poses. or pick them up. cultural preferences defy our biological differences. instruct her to repeat the poses without the prop but imagine that it is still there. you can ask the model to recall a few of those expressions to add variety. for flaws. . In some cases. creativity should resume. or flower and ask what she likes about it. By focusing on her training. For example. Do not give up if the first couple of attempts do not create interesting images. Posing Exercise #4: Arbitrary Rules This activity is good at focusing a distracted model's attention from her body by following a set of rules. One favorite is to tell the model to pull and stretch a t-shirt. This can be explained through the science of dimorphism. you will get her mind into the game. or ask her a question. you will need to tell her to increase or decrease her level of expression. Give the model specific instructions on how to interact with the prop. men are taller than women. Downplaying these differences will make them seem less feminine. you do not want to photograph her while she is talking. For example. Having more than one piece of posing equipment encourages a variety of creative options. The most obvious example is women’s larger breasts compared to men’s. and one foot on the floor. stretches. not just the face. or awkwardness in the way any joint from head to toe is turned. Another favorite of mine is to tell the model to recall a facial expression from an actress in a specific movie and scene that you are both familiar with. the association remains. these checks will become second nature. This exercise taps into a model's pride in her athletic ability and memorized routines. minimizing the waist. longer hair is associated with femininity. Some models will have naturally interesting facial expressions during athletic posing. but no more than one of each.” “What does unwrapping a present feel like?” “Think about chocolate. Some male/female differences are cultural. I tell the model she can “sit on them. Some models struggle to achieve a peaceful or purposeful facial expression when striking a tense. oddly dangling jewelry. though biologically men are capable of growing long hair.” Throughout this exercise. chewing gum in the model's mouth. You can then instruct her to imagine personifying those traits that she likes. Provided your model has decent miming skills. For example. as long as you remain touching both at all times. one knee. dance moves. Other areas where women and men are visibly different are the lower half of the face and the area between waist and knees. Posing Exercise #5: Display of Athleticism This exercise requires the model be trained in an athletic routine that she can turn into poses. It can be the hand and knee of the same leg. Many models will tend to overact. Some of these differences can be enhanced with photographic technique. Those that are affected by pose include lengthening legs. but this is okay because the residual effect will help later in the shoot. and enhancing curves. The model can consciously work on improving her facial expressions.Posing 73 some phrases or dialog. yoga. In the case of dialog. After achieving a few interesting poses with the prop. Other models will have a strained expression. plant. These later expressions will tend to be more subtle and natural. Accentuating these differences in the pose will make your subject appear more feminine. cheers. while others can be influenced only by your choice of model. Nonetheless. Stay tuned in to anything that might be out of place with the pose. hand her a prop. Tell the model a story. you can ask her about her favorite animal. These could be strength exercises. lean on them. Simple phrases that I like to use include “Think of something warm. Checks While Shooting It is easy to let attention to detail fade as your concentration shifts to the general aspects of the model's pose. and on taller women this attribute is enhanced. but rather use the conversation to come up with an idea for setting a mood. scan the entire composition. The true height-related dimorphism is that women have proportionally longer legs than men. Be careful not to apply the principle of dimorphism haphazardly. or anything she knows. As you gain experience. yet exaggerated hip proportions are not always considered desirable.
It brings out interesting contours within the neck and guides the viewer with a sense of motion. partially clothing the model. A raised chin can make the model look aloof if there is eye contact and graceful without eye contact. Tilting the head forward or backward can change the appearance of the chin and nose. You will not want much makeup if you are producing images that are intended to showcase natural. We normally think of makeup being used to accentuate features so they will stand out. Or is it the other way around? The fact is. lost in thoughts about something other than her present physical situation. requiring very little makeup. and the eyes and shoulders create two more imagined lines. Most models have nearly flawless skin. change skin color. which we recognize as eyes. Makeup is not required for many genres of nude photography. The Face and Head The face is perhaps the most compelling and recognizable part of a nude. For example. the nose can withstand a great variety of treatments and still achieve a goal of beauty or interest. while additional jewelry becomes gauche. An upwardly tilted head or low camera angle can leave you looking up her nose. She could also look candid.74 Exquisite Curves Jewelry Jewelry can accent the body. These would-be “blueprints for success” are based in tradition and assume a standardized portrait setting and a less-than-ideal subject. Be alert to facial expressions that contradict the body pose. Although some photographers avoid this effect. Alternatively. expressions often read better than overacted ones. The best expressions are the ones that happen while doing other things. thinking about the immediate surroundings but indifferent to the presence of the camera. When the head is level. or hide blemishes. There are a great many other options for creating interesting images. it can also be used to downplay features. With a model. It is where the viewer tends to look first. shadows will appear beside the nose. can find it stated both ways depending on what genre you are shooting. 1881—1973) knew that all that was needed to represent a face is two dark spots. tattoo. or it can be a distraction. Expressions use the whole face. the eyes form an imaginary line that is parallel to the top and bottom picture frame and the horizon. Even if no horizon is visible. With contrasting lighting coming from an angle. In the image to the left (A). the more distinct this shadow will be and the more pronounced the nose will appear. However. imaginary horizon. The face portrays various moods that can set the timbre for an image. even larger amounts of jewelry. With low camera angles. Tilting the head left or right helps disrupt the static line from body to head. The occasional touchup of a blemish. posed and emoting. so some makeup will not necessarily brand your photograph as coming from a . A better approach is to be aware of the tilt of the head relative to the shoulders and other visual elements. A body devoid of jewelry helps us concentrate on natural contours. if the photographer chooses to include it in the image. or scar can be appropriate if the objective is to create an organic look. The face can make the model appear connected with the camera or the viewer. Some sticklers consider adornments unorthodox for figure work. The model's face is one of the most complex and compelling features warranting much care with how it is incorporated into the image. It is customary with portraiture of non-models to try to minimize the appearance of the nose. there is always a level. Artist Pablo Picasso (Spanish. More subtle and ambiguous facial A. It is said that a woman should tilt her head toward her lower shoulder and a man should pose the opposite. you Makeup and Grooming Most models will wear makeup on their face to reduce shine. The higher the contrast (lighting ratio). the nose interrupts the contour of the cheek. With an unusually small nose. it can create an interesting tension. However. such as when the model is listening to the photographer telling a story or describing a mood. this effect can help make it seem more in place. With a particularly interesting nose. timeless beauty. Small amounts of jewelry can complement the body nicely. This can make the nose look shorter. Women have been using makeup for eons. a model reclining with a lovely relaxed posture can be spoiled if her face looks like she is contemplating a root canal. Rules like this result in rather “canned” looking portraits and are not appropriate for the nude. but take care that the angle of view of the nostrils does not create an unpleasant effect. You can minimize a larger nose by having the model point her nose towards the main light. she can appear contemplative. can make an attractive theme. you may also need to make sure you have carefully adjusted the lights with respect to how they fall across the face. Undiffused light will enhance the shadow. this kind of lighting can help showcase its shape. There are plenty of rules about lowering or raising one shoulder and tilting the head towards the lower or higher shoulder.
the model’s pupils will be larger. using makeup only for fine-tuning. It is better to leave the color of the face untouched and rely on software for any minor corrections. extend the outer ends and trim the inside ends. It communicates an intention to interact with the photographer or the viewer. Mascara should be applied to lashes after they have been curled. which will just appear as bright points on the photograph. For small or close-together eyes. Also avoid makeup that has sparkles or glitter in it. should pay attention to what the eyes are saying. Eye contact or the lack of it can complement or contradict head placement. Eye makeup can often be applied without looking unnatural. eyeliner. it can appear ungainly for a number of reasons. while others can alter minor proportional traits. If the head is turned too far and the model attempts eye contact. foundation or powder is not usually needed. each skin type will pair slightly differently with each kind of makeup. experiment to find one that reproduces realistically in a photograph. The pupil also dilates during strong emotions. the distance between the eyes is equal to the width of an eye. unless there is a known problem with shine. but that it occupies her mind.Posing 75 given era. you can create the illusion that widely spaced eyes are a bit closer together. pluck the outer ends and extend the inner ends with an eyebrow pencil. Eyes More than any other element in an image. Moderate mascara. Dark eye shadow above small eyes can make them look smaller. her eye position is consistent with her head position. as non-verbal cues to help synchronize shooting with posing. which may produce a distorted line that will make the eyes look odd. Be careful with blush. it affects the context of the photo. people find the image with enlarged pupils more interesting. A gaze can be warm or cool. with rouge for example. Eyebrows should be neatly groomed and shaped following their natural arch. less makeup is usually more effective. Enlarged pupils is one of the reasons candlelit dinners are considered romantic. The photographer. there are so many lighting styles that finding the right one for you may take some time. Hess. Liquid eyeliner from a brush looks good on camera compared to the line of an eye pencil or pen. applying makeup only after you see a problem in your image. If the face is pointed at the camera. Some models may have a tendency to pull the eyelid. The area under the eyes can appear darker than normal with certain dramatic lighting styles. There are many makeup brands that claim to be suitable for photography. Make sure the eyelid is relaxed during application. With the head turned far away from the camera and the model looking back to make eye contact. Certain kinds of photography. It's better to have the whole body match in color and to perform any minor color correction with software after the exposure. By preventing harsh continuous light from hitting the model’s eyes and exposing with studio strobes. the model either will or will not be making eye contact with the camera. and some subtle. Shaped eyebrows can also help with eyes that are too close together or far apart. For eyes that are close together. Four combinations of with/without eye contact and head facing/ not facing the camera. The shadow should come to an upward tip like the wings of a bird. For most people. too. Use as little as possible. If you want a model's almond-shaped eyes to look rounder. A model looking a few inches above the lens can give a connected feeling without looking too posed. If you must use foundation. shadow at the outer corners can make them appear more widely spaced. mysterious or inviting. but the model is avoiding eye contact. and anything that is designed to alter skin tone. you can ask her to look at you. False eyelashes are another way to give a model's eyes a boost if her natural ones are not lush. This may indicate moods ranging from quirky to shy. When lighting conditions are dim. Even when fashioning an alluring look. passionate or withdrawn. earth-toned eye shadow will enhance the eyes. Although these may look fantastic in real life. the inconsistency indicates a compulsion to connect. can often cause more harm than good. There will be an unnatural amount of white of the eye (sclera) showing B. It shows she is not only aware of being photographed. Some models benefit from some makeup to lighten the skin under their eyes. it will be obvious in a still photo that the face tone does not match the rest of the body. require makeup that is more obvious. our eyes are drawn to the model's eyes. Some makeup techniques can be used to enhance a model’s assets. so it should be used sparingly along just the crease. if you are using a waist-level viewfinder. Since most models have beautiful skin. Eyeliner can help alter the shape of the eyes and make them stand out. By gradually increasing the darkness of eye shadow on the inside of the upper lids. When the model makes eye contact. Multiple applications are often needed to achieve a bold effect. Allow the model’s beauty to be featured. If the model is looking forward. Changing skin color. You can tell the model to look there. the pupil dilates (gets larger). University of Chicago) have shown that when shown photographs that are identical except for the size of the pupil. In each photo. To make matters more complicated. The eyes tell the viewer much about the model. bronzer. For eyes that are further apart. or. We are hard-wired to recognize this response by looking at the eyes. the top eyeliner should end just before the corner of the eye. she is contradicting the head placement. Studies (E. . such as glamour nudes. The trouble is.
and these can differ. Center of weight is felt physically by the model. however. Long hair can be beautiful and flowing. Broad shoulders may look better tilted. It also takes a while for it to dry down to its final color. and the limits to which the limbs can be positioned. An arm merged with the waist (right panel) makes it look thicker. slightly darker than the skin. unstyled hair that is either wet or dry. The position of the torso defines much about a pose: its center of weight. On the left we see background on both sides of the narrowest part of the waist. makeup. Contouring makeup on the body can accentuate the shadows to enhance abdominal muscles or breasts. To achieve an image devoid of fashion references or other indications of era. but seen visually by the photographer. so lifting the arms will help elevate the breasts when the torso is upright. turned with the fingers toward the body. but it takes time and skill to apply and fully blend it into the surrounding skin. and tilted. A weight-bearing hand. Torso The arrangement of the torso should be chosen to complement the body type. have proportions that are more attractive with . It is quite convincing when applied correctly. Neutral hairstyles can be achieved with freshly washed. turned. You may have less luck when the well-endowed model is on her back. Boldly styled hair can take a great amount of time and skill. The curves of the body are interconnected by tendons and muscles. You can communicate a shift in center of weight to a model in terms relative to her current torso position. and you should perform a color match in advance of the actual shoot. and flatten her stomach by lying on her back and arching slightly with her arms over her head. A model with pendulous breasts can be a challenge if the torso is tilted or prone. The principle is to darken the skin slightly in places that will naturally receive shadows and lighten it slightly. Hair The point of some nudes is to create a timeless image. backgrounds. The Waist and Hips On many models. lowered. B. Although it takes a little practice. It can be raised. A small set of models. this process is not terribly challenging. Arms and Hands Examine the various arm positions shown in the images above (A). hunched. define her rib cage. inverted. twisted. Without clothing. Keep your attention on the direction that the fingers are pointed. Each conveys a specific set of emotions or a mood. See “Furniture” starting on page 87 for examples. depending on how the rest of the body is tilted. Tattoos can interfere with the lines of the body. the model caries no clue as to her era other than her hairstyle and cultural bias in your choice of model. but a model's hair is something that can be uniquely her own. arched. especially when the pose puts it completely off the body. If a voluptuous model is prone. and stay mindful of which limbs are supporting the model’s body. Typically. can look awkward. producing an undesirable texture in some shots. The curvaceous areas of the body can tend to ripple when caught in motion. or in rapid motion. and fabrics can be easily imitated. Props. wellshaped shoulders can look excellent facing the camera straight on. Hair can be used to make a dramatic statement. An arm next to the torso can make it appear thicker. or jewelry. The makeup will look too light for up to twenty minutes before it reaches its final shade. Eye shadow or powdered foundation. An extreme inconsistency should only be attempted for a specific effect. work well for this. arms can be crossed just under the chest to help counteract gravity.76 Exquisite Curves and it will seem that she is straining to see the camera. even slim models may look more appealing with the effect that a turned waist produces. Makeup like Dermablend™ can cover tattoos. Although most photographers avoid shoulders squared up with the lens. A. the waist is best viewed at any angle but straight on for achieving a slimming effect. A well-defined physique can be as interesting as a curvaceous one. A model can accentuate the curvature of her back. one must consider a neutral hairstyle. but can command attention in a singular way. Perfecting Dermablend is difficult. the general curvature of the body. Creating some separation between the elbow and the side of the body or extending the arm will leave the contour of the body unaltered.
the model demonstrates an evolution from static to dynamic. You do not want to have a shot that makes the viewer say. to stay balanced. resulting in an s-curved line. but difficult to perform well. and pay especially close attention when she is bending and sideways to you. which does not always have to do with how thin they are. but can also distract from the lines of the body and change the context of an image from art to glamour. The more interesting standing poses are leaning. but have a curve to their navel that sticks out a bit more than normal. it can be more flattering than a more even stance. C. the torso is shifted. but tend to daunt the uninitiated. “Nice calves. Pointing a limb at the camera makes it look shorter. These models typically are lean and narrow-waisted. A basic first step to making a pose more interesting is to turn or tilt the shoulders. while other angles imply motion. This is because. Think about the lines of the shoulders. so do not get hung up on the general divisions. A weight shift also imparts a sense of dynamism. and turn or shift the hips. Successful s-curve standing poses rely on at least two shifts of weight—one in the hips and one in the shoulders. The morgue can contain one’s own images. organized into categories. torso. and hips square to the camera. An artist’s collection of visual ideas can also be called a morgue. As you photograph. You can use these thumbnails as part of your shot lists. Right angles Standing Standing poses are among the most basic and are a natural beginning for a discussion. Although listed first in this book because of their primary nature. However. Gallery of 110 Nude Poses The following collection of poses. you can do so by shifting but not turning them.) D. Show the example images to the model to assist in describing the desired pose. Keep the reference images handy before or during shooting. so be mindful of the overall look. The following categories are intended to simply organize the poses into modules so you can learn them more easily. Poses without props or other clutter can be aesthetically striking. Legs and Feet When a model has the majority of her weight on one leg. In the examples (C. but mostly consists of “borrowed” images. but why is she on her toes like that?” Shooting perpendicular to the legs will help them look longer. since they give the model an opportunity for interaction. her back is almost vertical. . Either of these techniques has the potential to look out of place. Body Curves and Lines The most basic (and boring) pose is with the model’s shoulders parallel to the horizon. provides a departure point for describing the poses you want to attempt and will help you come up with your own poses. develop an unsightly bulge in certain postures. appear static. her torso straight. hips. Not all poses fit neatly into a category. as is one leg. It takes considerable study for a model to master standing poses. a visual reference of the poses that you intend. keep your eye on these three areas: shoulders. (Remember the lesson on foreshortening. Recall from earlier that diagonal lines are usually more interesting than vertical or horizontal ones. The other leg is at a wider angle and is farther from the center of the body. we have a tendency to stay planted with our feet at shoulder width. Furniture and props can be better posing themes to begin a shoot. page 27. In the left panel. Some models have a delicate curve to their stomach that looks great from any angle. her legs are straight and equally angled from the center. Standing on the toes can do the same thing. Curves are usually more interesting than straight lines. and otherwise suggesting a shift in weight or direction. They are the beginning of many modeling sessions. though perhaps not the best choice for sparking creativity in less experienced models. On the right panel. although trim. and hips and their angles relative to the camera. Others have sculpted abs that can withstand just about any lighting from any vantage point. tilt or curve the torso. A model with wide hips may look better turned so they appear slimmer. D). torso. because a blank scene can leave a model uninspired. torsos positioned squarely above. High heels can make calves look better. Always check your model's waistline. many models. I have seen exceptions where thin models look best straight on. If you want to emphasize their width. They are simple to perform in most cases. standing poses are not always the best starting point for a modeling session. curving.Posing 77 a straight-on view of the waist.
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.Posing 79 .
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but in general. such as a handstand. a sitting pose has the preponderance of the weight distributed to the lower half of the body. . The mood of a floor pose is less formal. The long upright shape of the body can be transformed into anything from a ball to a horizontal figure.Posing 81 Floor The floor category contains poses with any significant amount of weight on the floor through some body part other than the feet. There is no distinct line between the two. Posing on the floor allows more variation on body shape than standing. More acrobatic floor poses include inverted poses. Any surface could be substituted for a floor. A lying pose relies on the upper body for at least some support. Floor poses can be divided into sitting and lying.
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Posing 83 .
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Posing 85 .
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or it makes her more inclined to choose specific poses. Used imaginatively. The point is that the furniture changes the nature of posing. Sinking into padding or cloth may not always be a hindrance. It does not have to be a manufactured object like a chair. When in a furnished. other than the floor. Parts of the body can be inadvertently hidden behind portions of the furniture. based on limited padding. Posing furniture is selected. It limits where she can stand and move and it suggests which harmonizing shapes can be formed by the body. but since the platform effectively defines the pose. it could be a boulder or a tree limb in the case of outdoor posing. It either forces the model into poses she would not be in without the furniture. in part. posing on a narrow platform would confine the model to poses that conform to its size. These same poses could conceivably be achieved on the floor. Similarly. it could alter the body shapes to be more interesting. the model’s pose will be determined by what is around her. it is categorized as a furniture pose. in some cases. knees. .Posing 87 Furniture Poses with furniture introduce a platform. or elbows. For example. domestic location. furniture provides an almost limitless range of possible poses. Liberally interpreted for the sake of learning poses. furniture can mean any object on which the model can place her weight. soft padding can cause the model to sink in and distort the lines of the body at hands. for the model to place her weight on. Posing with furniture engenders several potential pitfalls.
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Posing 89 .
covered with cloth. . used for posing.90 Exquisite Curves A large inflatable exercise ball.
Posing 91 .
trite and cliché props are the downfall of many failed compositions. such as a musical instrument or a clothing accessory. while others are so powerful that the model is visually secondary. Some of the best props do not draw attention to themselves. help fire the imagination of the viewer. Notice their construction and their surfaces. geometric props and those that occur in nature can add a great deal of interest to an image. a prop that is personal to the model. who believe that they clutter the scene with extra items and feel that visual communication should take place through the form of the model alone. so it is appropriate to warn against making prop choices lightly. In many cases. Strong props can also motivate the model to perform creative poses. Materials that have strong connotations. Surely. Avoid just throwing props together. such as steel or tree roots.93 Props Posing with props can irritate purists. can influence the pose better than something generic. . Simple. such as merchandise for a Halloween costume. Props should be chosen for their visual appeal. and yet the image is successful.
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A discrete pose can be playfully teasing or somberly artistic. It is often difficult to shoot an erotic pose that is also flattering to the model. Handle with care. an example would be a model wearing bikini briefs and sitting in such a way so that it is not visible. Purists seldom consider a shot where the model is draped in fabric or props to be a “true” nude. An inexplicit pose. or just the angle of view—covers the more intimate parts of the model. It is hard to define what makes a pose offensive.Posing 95 Discrete There are many ways of making obscured or inexplicit nudes. We each judge erotic nudes subjectively. A covered nude. it is not clear if the model is completely nude. and both you and her are well advised not to stray too far into new territory at one time. An implied nude is technically not a nude. A more accepted way of obscuring the nude is to “clothe with light.” Through the use of lighting controls. not what is shown. where some object—a prop. The flip side to discrete poses are erotic nudes. A covered nude is just what it sounds like. If a discrete pose is sufficiently creative. Be careful that you do not cross over the line into unflattering or offensive poses. . Erotic nudes do not need to be explicit. limbs. In an implied nude. The term implied nude is informally used generically to mean a covered nude. It can be a struggle to make concealment look natural and not like the model is trying to hide her body. make sure your model has already done similar work before attempting erotic nudes. Also. or even nearly explicit. Eroticism is about what is intended. its modesty will not be its foremost attribute. illumination can be limited to omit explicit details.
. yet discrete arrangement. A discrete pose that has some dynamic tension will give the image more meaning than a model attempting to hide her body.96 Exquisite Curves Hugging an object to the torso can provide an interesting.
and they will return to it. or some other imaginative juxtaposition.” Unlike the documentary photographer. To create a memorable image. and meaning. 1901-1988) was a psychologist who attended the Berlin University under the tutelage of Kurt Lewin. you must include both conscious and unconscious intent. When you stumble upon a new way of composing. Serendipity and accidents should be embraced. or the subject portrayed. new and absolutely original visual works being created. The Zeigarnik effect is a similar concept.” and. When someone without a background in design observes your photographs. it will linger in the viewer's mind. unfinished activity is imprinted into long-term rather than short-term memory. Painters have a similar freedom to express ideas through symbolic imagery. Making memorable images will help you make your mark better than making perfectly balanced composition. Our minds seek closure. she described the effect that bears her name. if any. The methods described in this book should be taken as a way to begin or continue learning to create your own style. In a scientific paper. bend. Creativity means making nonlinear connections between thoughts and expressing them visually. I had changed my mind about it. There are few. You need to consider content. you have the ability to create a photograph that is more momentous than what you experience when simply gazing at your subject. Give viewers something different from what they expect and you will hold their interest longer. Formalisms of compositional rules have little direct relevance to the way most people perceive images. Although you may not create anything unique. completion. An image may communicate a broad range of results through the structure of its elements. an unexpected twist on a familiar activity. “Every time I look at this. To design on your own. Recall the Gestalt effect of closure. Creativity does not necessarily mean originality. She was considered among the Soviet Union's foremost psychologists and has earned awards for her work. a viewer will spend ten to fifteen seconds looking at a photograph. What is the context in which you present it and what meaning does it have to various viewers? Strong visual work often challenges the viewer's assumptions. It may be an unusual camera angle paired with an unlikely subject. develop your own style by leaving the safety of the systematic approach. but do not feel that your work needs to display ideas in a plain way. Have you grown creatively? Have you maintained technical precision? Trial and error is often the path to coming up . I see something different. context. Typically. Once you have mastered the basic techniques.97 Self-Expression and Style reativity is the uninhibited flow of ideas in the mind of the artist. you have to add a mystery that takes a minute or longer to figure out. the media used. allowing them to explore your work in greater depth. The unexpected and novel aspects of the composition need to be enough of a riddle so that the viewer cannot immediately solve it. Art can be contentious and even inexplicable. Photographers use a visual language as well to communicate ideas that go beyond the literal. In short. Each design is a variation influenced by something that has come before. Experiment. but that is usually the limit. It can be tied to more than a particular expectation based on the region or culture of the viewer. If you can hold a viewer’s attention for that length of time. It is only through experimentation that we devise creative solutions to compositional problems. they interpret them based on how the images make them feel. Conscious and Unconscious Intent To be self-expressive in your artwork. “Before I finished writing my critique of this image. do not ignore it. not shunned. If you add mystery or ambiguity to your image. and break old formulas. Some History Bluma Zeigarnik (Soviet. the image becomes an unfinished task. Compare your results to your previous work. Art is more than the manufacturing of images a la paint-by-numbers. and clarity. you should aspire to create something that is out of the ordinary. it is the psychological tendency for unfinished tasks to occupy our minds. the more your work will look like a clone of the work produced by everyone else following the same formula. Writers use metaphors in their poems and stories. Advertisers and educators familiar with the Zeigarnik effect know that when someone struggles to figure something out. The finished photograph should be crafted in such a way that looking at it exceeds the visual impact of the original scene. A nude image may hold his/her gaze for a few seconds longer. you must push against. The more closely you follow a formula. consider everything you include in your image. Guard against superficial shock value. Evidence of a viewer who has been drawn into an image includes comments such as. Investigate it and develop it before evaluating whether it is worth incorporating into your process.
however. The discussion. the message is open . visual expression is not always about beauty. painting. Nudes have been used as timeless representations of humanity. but through a communal process of producing and exhibiting the work to others. there are a multitude of other reasons one may choose. but does not encompass all art. nymphs. as the person she is. This process could be used to express a strong emotion or a reaction to a particular school of thought. This definition. Developing your style is a journey. beauty or otherwise. They have been used to represent us as a social animal at various points in human history. crime. Paintings like Pablo Picasso’s Guernica or Pietro da Cortona’s Rape of the Sabine Women come to mind. and photographic mediums have all been used to represent the pure beauty of the body. and directing it toward the lens does not preclude an image from being art. The meaning is enigmatic in my own mind. Thoughts about some images manifest only as a range of topics and emotions. For one. acting out a character role like an actress might. and in pinup photography she does. perhaps to compel you to feel empathy for your subject or to create a metaphor for a larger issue. is superficial. it is not that simple. Even when the subject includes nudes. To me. and one that is never quite finished. it excludes many master works of art that hang in the finest museums. I have expressed feelings about violence. and his Atrocities of War series of prints.98 Exquisite Curves with your own photographic look. and other unsavory aspects of life do not bring pleasure when looked upon. too. One definition of art—one that I reject—is that art is visual expression that is pleasant to view. Nude photography can subdivided into pinup and art shots. Saturn Devouring his Son. The point is to be aware and to think about why you feel a certain way about an image. and every photographer should contemplate what he or she considers to be art. The question of “What is art?” is one that will never be fully answered to the satisfaction of all who ask it. These depictions of war. Nude figures are used to represent Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Nudes have represented goddesses. Some photographers are motivated to communicate something interesting about their subjects. In artwork. dogma. The work of Ellen von Unwerth makes us think deeply about the characters in her visual stories. An artistic communication in the form of montage. and not just that you do or do not like it. Unlike an illustrator. One of the major reasons to create a nude photograph is to showcase beauty. I believe that art provokes a reaction. A photograph can make a social statement. Nude photographs by Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe are not always about beauty. There is no single message or explanation for this image. One of the biggest compliments a photographer can receive is to have his/ her work recognized by his/her artistic style. Why You Make a Photograph Nudes have appeared throughout history to serve a variety of intentions. but they are art. or use her as an allegory. An illustration almost always has a single verbal equivalent. I do not believe that having a verbal definition or consensus on the subject is important. Some might say that pinup is about glamour and exciting the viewer. Of course. either in harmony with nature or in contrast to it. There are more categories. this is a fitting definition of beauty or decoration. and suffering. I once mused that in artistic photography the model does not look at the camera. whether that involves pondering A. The meaning of art is not determined by an individual. In the following image (A). Art and pinup are not always mutually exclusive. There have been fertility idols from ancient times and mythological allegories from Classical Greece and Rome. The face is one of the most interesting aspects of a human being. They could portray the subject literally. I also think of Goya’s painting. is very productive. and demons. Statuary. and that art is about a trained photographer expressing something soul stirring. and though this is a perfectly valid reason to create nudes. an artist does not have to have a concrete message. but for a worthwhile discussion this dichotomy will suffice.
figure studies are bodyscapes. and it is a question of intent. Successful creativity is an image that touches the viewer more deeply than he or she is prepared for. artistic.Self-Expression and Style 99 to interpretation and may contain such a degree of ambiguity that it cannot be deciphered into a single. A figure study does not need to use an indoor setting. The headboard. many images are in a studio context. but not all. The image may not be unique. pose. though nudes based on characteristics other than beauty are underrepresented. such as a subject that is shocking or confrontational. we all seek to create images that are distinct from what is already available. all contribute to making an image into a nude portrait. Case in point. This information can be directly presented in the photograph. Figure studies are an exploration and celebration of simple natural forms. a photograph of a model with outstretched arms in the middle of the desert at sunrise would have a more powerful mood than the same pose and lighting in a studio context. fabric. In the image above (B). Some. Regardless of the labels we choose or the ones that are imposed on us. but in the way it provokes the viewer’s mind. Not all photographers consider themselves artists. The model's pose. of being “at home. or that there is no individualism conveyed by a figure study. The intent of portraiture is to represent the individual person in front of the lens. The predominant intent of figure study is to capture the beauty. Although many figure studies have solid. Context Context refers to the apparent circumstances and information that surrounds the subject. featureless backgrounds. Its strength lies not in demonstrating technical prowess. The choice of . that the model and photographer are conducting a pre-arranged plan. either real or fictional. and so on). A bodyscape presents the body in a way that resembles a landscape and typically excludes the face. B. nor do they strive to be. or some other aesthetic. much as an actress would. the context is created by the illusion of a domestic setting. others use a scenic background. They could also be formed on some other aesthetic. A photographer can tell a story in the same way that a writer might. Figure Study versus Portraiture Most figure studies are centered around some appealing visual element. action. This is not to say that a visual presentation cannot rest ambiguously in both camps and be successful. genre is a conscious one. of the human body. to fabricate a personality that comes through in an image. and expression. such an indefinite piece could owe its distinction to its ambiguity. To say that there is no aesthetic component to a pure portrait. Although the pose and lighting do a great deal to set the mood. The Influence of Genre Genre influences composition. or even a public place. and the reasons for creating them parallel many of the reasons that photographers choose to create landscapes. She could also play a role. or facets of it. The model can express her own personality. C. It is obvious that the images are shot in a studio. to create interest in an image. glamour. but it is memorable. Both figure study and portraiture share qualities. or it may be implied as the most likely situation. Though there are many genres of nude photography (pinup. Bodyscape with superimposed sky.” is made more believable by her surroundings. would be wrong. Portraiture is about portraying an individual. Another context might be the outdoors. This could be the beauty of curve. For instance. the model's surroundings and other elements need to be consistent to complete a particular mood. Although difficult to achieve. The exclusion of the face is partly to prevent the work from being immediately interpreted as a portrait. The context is important to setting the mood of a photograph. including stance. The model's look of comfort. unambiguous meaning. they can largely be grouped into the categories of figure studies and portraits. and partly because the face looks less like a landscape than the curves of the body. and pillows all imply a domestic context. or the texture of skin.
A customer will either buy an existing photograph. tanning salons.100 Exquisite Curves Commercial Design If a nude photographer is considering his images in the context of commercial design.” “beautiful body. cropping. or ask for an image to be created. the nude itself is the product in the instance of posters and prints on canvas. In commercial nudes. Commercial applications in the United States use modest nudes. called stock. art. many of the same compositional principles still apply to draw attention to the product and avoid detracting from the sales message. Advertising images need to be about the product. diet. Newspapers. Very light or very dark areas without much texture are the preferred backgrounds for text. A poster for the male collegiate market can get away with more suggestive body language than an advertisement intended to entice women to purchase a moisturizer. and other topics. . If the product is in the shoot with the model. nude beaches.” Editorial nudes are often more understated than advertising images. and with European companies. the photographer needs to understand what kinds of composition sell best. which may appear in journalism but have little place in advertising. editorial. exercise. skin care regimens. Advertisers and publishers walk a fine line between garnering as much attention as possible and risking offending their customers. a designer often desires blank space for text. If the product is going to be added later. but copy space is favored. or calmness to advertise a spa treatment. For instance. and err on the side of conservatism. such as “breast cancer. Creating images for commercial markets requires special consideration of the subject matter. the photographer will receive guidance from the customer on how it needs to be composed. It is possible for designers to frame the image separately from the text or to place a solid block of color on the image interior to accommodate text. It is important that the photographer understand the vocabulary and mechanics of composition in order to fulfill the customer's requirements. yet non-explicit images that sit on the edge between salable and unsalable. magazines. health supplements. and vantage point all serve to eliminate intimate details that would make an image unsalable. Implied or cropped shots are used in advertisements for day spas. It's easy to become desensitized to the wide range of public reactions to nudity. The image needs to portray the correct mood. Distracting or conflicting elements must be eliminated. pushes the border with its degree of suggestiveness. Copy space needs to be uniform enough that a font of a contrasting color will stand out against it. Any compositional techniques employed should be used to draw the viewer’s attention to the product or to set an appropriate mood. Advertisers and publishers are usually looking for images that appeal to the widest number of people within their addressable market. not the photographer's message. as well. the photographer must imagine where it could be placed and design a visual pathway accordingly. copy space is less of a demand. such as dramatic for products sold on impulse. Notable exceptions include portrayals of offputting topics.” “nude beach. With an advertisement. shoot a range of possibilities. The pose. At times. an article about self-image might feature a model who looks melancholy. yet non-explicit imagery is popular. and other publications use images to illustrate articles about health. psychology. beauty products. Nudes are used for book covers for fictional genres ranging from romance to suspense and non-fiction books about health. and medical devices. Photographers are often pushed to produce images that distinguish themselves from the competition. With image agencies marketing internationally. In the case of stock photography. Editorial images need to convey an obvious message.” or “strong woman. and relationships.” “healthy body. The overall demeanor of the commercial nude is non-explicit. diet. though not always. poetry. With editorial images. In the case of a commissioned image. and merchandising applications. When in doubt. visual pathway is incorporated to lead the viewer to what is being sold. more daring. called copy space. sterile for medical services. Image purchasers are frequently asking for more daring. it is usually an afterthought. Stock photographs are created based on the speculation that someone will buy them and marketed by an intermediary called a stock agency. Lighting. An editorial image is one that will be used to accompany an article in a magazine or professional journal. called a commissioned image. photographers can sell nude images for a variety of advertising.
He began his career by documenting British society. . This exercise gives them more time with their brushes. Brandt used scale. you can develop ideas of where to take your own style. other photographers can be a source of inspiration for you. Centerfolds are immediate in nature. an unusual subject matter at that time. but it is about far more than just learning to push pigment around on white gesso. and contrast to abstract the figures to the point that they were not immediately recognizable as human forms. including Ansel Adams. eventually doing his own shoots for French Vogue. his work pushes magazine photography toward a classic pinup aesthetic. He was recognized after photographing Gertrude Lawrence. Ruth Bernhard (American. You can research them by searching the Internet or the “Reader’s Links” on page 112. snow geese. no doubt influenced by Munkácsi. After moving to California to work with Edward Weston. Bernhard bought her first camera after being fired from Delineator magazine. When analyzing your work. showcasing the body for a mostly collegiate audience. Studying masters by methodical copying forces you to notice the composition. Inspiring Photographers Richard Avedon (American. Brandt was famous for his socially relevant material. Horst P. Germaine Krull (German. particularly with the work of Martin Munkácsi. born 1950) Freytag photographed scores of Playboy centerfolds. paint. studying painting. and photography. Bill Brandt (British. 1905—2006) Born in Berlin. In 1961. which led to further successful celebrity portraits. graphic design. and ammunition belts. what is the immediate impression? What do you see in the first few seconds of viewing? An image that holds your attention for only a few seconds without inviting further study is said to lack depth of information. by exploring a broad range of work. Scan the composition carefully and leave no spot unexamined. He broke away from convention with the mannerisms of his models. He left Harper magazine for Vogue. vantage point. born 1945) Burns has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and her images are in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. spanning several styles and generations. Try to forget that it is your photography. who were photographed laughing and dancing. and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. ask if it fits into a larger body of work that you are creating. You can learn a lot by looking at the composition of inspirational photographers and the poses of inspirational models. Some of these names can be found in the finest museums and others are more obscure. his interests changed and he became Huene’s assistant. as well as dramatic landscapes and nudes. that may influence your outlook and style. Another trick is to look at it upside down or in mirror image. 1904—1983) Though born in Germany. Turn the photo upside-down if it helps. Artists learning to paint partake in an exercise where they study (directly copy) the work of well-known painters. His photographs tend to be black and white with strong contrast. Whether famous or just students. the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This will reduce it to its basic design elements. and canvas. and Wynn Bullock. Brandt is known as a British photographer. The following brief biographies feature a few inspiring photographers and models. until eventually switching to indoor studio photography. Her photography can be found in many museum collections worldwide. After meeting the fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene. She moved to New York to pursue photography. which add context to her nude compositions. He was prone to outdoor motion photography. 1923—2004) Avedon was impressed by fashion at an early age. One trick for analyzing the basic composition of your work is to view it in thumbnail size. There are hundreds of great photographers and thousands of stellar models. Imogen Cunningham. devoid of subtleties such as texture and detail. He attended Chicago Academy of Fine Art. but. This is easy to do with software or a rotating monitor. Her nude photographs were published in a monograph entitled The Eternal Body. Look at your work with fresh eyes. however. She settled in Paris and became a Inspiration Never stop looking at the work of others. with Man Ray as his primary influence. He later became involved in the Surrealist movement. Minor White. Each practitioner has a style that is narrow in scope. he compiled a collection of images he called Perspectives of Nudes. Arny Freytag (American. 1897—1985) Krull studied photography at the Bavarian State Photography School in Munich and later published a book on nude photography. 1906—1999) Horst originally started as a furniture designer at an art school in Frankfurt. Horst (Bohrmann) (American. perspective. a publication that largely promotes her success as a photographer of the nude. Following World War II. Nevertheless. A series of visual presentations by an individual artist that are stylistically identifiable as the work of the specific artist is called a body of work. He further developed as a photographer under Huene. Brandt developed a distinct style marked by distorted effects and wide-angle lens shots. Wait a week or longer after the shoot before you revisit it. look at it with the critical eye that you use with the work of others. Bernhard worked beside other artists in San Francisco. like guns. Marsha Burns (American. Burns uses iconic props.Self-Expression and Style 101 Analyzing Your Work When looking at your work. Forget what you like about it and try not to think about what you were doing when you shot the image.
For a stretch of time. The book Work contains a full range of his work from fashion. He took up the pseudonym Man Ray. such as Vogue. Decades later. He was an apprentice to fashion and nude photographer Yva. born 1945) A highly influential photographer. Before his death from AIDS. published several books. she also gained recognition as a filmmaker and video director. she also produced portraits and engineering images. His more famous nude images have fetched five-figure (USD) prices at auctions. Claudio Marra. aiming to create “cameraless” pictures. 1952—2002) Famous for his black and white portraits. Joyce Tenneson (American. the most famous being Violon d'Ingres. Irving Penn (American. A master of the chemical darkroom. and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto. 1944—2011) Lindbergh is widely known for his contribution to the fashion industry. She eventually moved to New York in the 1980s. whom he photographed in 1988 and again in 1998. including Big Nudes. this photographer incorporates the female form into his manufactured compositions with the utmost skill. Penn developed a style of gentle. Princess Caroline of Monaco appointed him Officer des Arts. Banana Republic. born 1954) Unwerth began her career as a fashion model and translated her experience into her own fashion shoots. She worked as an art instructor for fifteen years. He has also produced nudes of Stephanie Seymour in 1992. and was named “Photographer of the Year” by Women in Photography. 1920—2004) Newton attended the Heinrich-von-Treitschke-Realgymnasium and the American School in Berlin. Vanity Fair. The two artists formed the New York Dada group and became involved in Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles. Mapplethorpe's 1990 “not-guilty” verdict on obscenity charges for displaying erotic male nudes was a reaffirmation of First Amendment freedoms. saying that it took as much effort as traditional photographic illusion. he chose full-bodied models that were the antithesis of the fashion models of his day job. His composite images are in museums throughout the world. pictorial styles. the German government awarded him Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz for his contribution to German culture. he became acquainted with the artist Marcel Duchamp.102 Exquisite Curves contributor to several illustrated magazines. He also received several awards for his fashion photography. He started his work as a freelance photographer in 1973 and soon became popular for his fashion photographs. Lettres et Sciences. She created campaigns for several well-known companies. On the weekends. Ellen von Unwerth (German. He has photographed for the famed Pirelli Calendar. Uelsmann was also a fan of digital technology. He attained a Master’s degree in Fine Art from Indiana University and his work is fine art in every sense. 1917—2009) At an early age. His interest in the taboo resulted in controversial and provocative photographs that were exhibited in major museums. he studied art and became a painter. 1890—1976) Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in New York City. in 1992. Mapplethorpe established a foundation named after himself to promote photography and to help fund research for AIDS. In 1950. Helmut Newton (German. Herb Ritts (American. The son of a Jewish factory owner. He later changed his camera type and began shooting his friends and acquaintances. Newton became a hugely influential fashion photographer who became famous while working for French Vogue. He was also prevalent in the fashion and portrait photography. as well as working for fashion designers like Prada. which featured strong nude women. He has published several pictorial books. She was a highly influential figure of her time and was associated with “New Vision” photography and the Bauhaus art movement. In addition to being a model and photographer. he produced figure studies. the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the Grand Prix National for photography. where her career launched. including pornographic film actors and other members of New York dissident culture. continuous tonality in his subjects. he fled Nazi Germany as a teenager. the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Tenneson began photographing self-portraits in her 20s. He experimented with photography. and Ulrich Pohlmann. authored by Peter Weiermair. and various others. to erotic nudes. such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. a model whom he frequently photo- graphed. Her work was not limited to nudes. His preference for models of Amazonian proportions became a hallmark of his work. In 1915. and Rolling Stone. His photographs were experimental and often involved female nudes. to Africa. Jerry N. Penn designed covers for Vogue magazine. Victoria’s Secret. and had many international exhibitions. He worked for many major fashion magazines. His interest in photography began with experimental Polaroids in 1970. shooting celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s. Ritts is also known for his nude photographs of supermodel Cindy Crawford. also in 1992. Uelsmann (American. He became famous for celebrity portraits against a bare backdrop in marathon sessions to explore their personality. Her work has been shown in over 150 exhibitions. such as the International Fashion Award in 1995 and in 1997. Her work tends to be sexual and playful . His work also appears in The Nude: Ideal and Reality. such as Baccardi. Man Ray (American. 1946—1989) Robert Mapplethorpe Mapplethorpe began his career as an artist at Pratt Institute and was influenced by Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp. (American. Ritts has produced nudes of both male and female subjects. Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. he married Lisa Fonssagrives. born 1934) Though not widely known for his nudes. a book featuring multiple photographers. has won the International Center of Photography's Infinity Award. He has photographed supermodels like Helena Christensen and Kate Moss in the nude. which were reactions to traditional. which he called rayographs. whether they were unorthodox nudes or unlikely still lifes composed of cigarette butts. Peter Lindbergh (Polish. In 1990.
She is muslim and speaks six languages. She began to appear in more movies in the 1950s and earned a reputation as a “blond bombshell. Edward Weston (American. born 1963) Nielson quit school at 16 to take up modeling. allowing her to pay her way through college. Grace Jones (Jamaican. In April of 2008. Carla Bruni (Italian. Dolce & Gabbana. born 1966) Famous model. Milla Jovovich (Russian. Madonna Ciccone (American. Here is a sampling of just a few inspiring models who have contributed to the world of nude photography. Balenciaga. von Teese challenges the norm with images ranging from pinup to bondage. born 1958) The pop-singer and onetime nude model is better known by just her first name. musician David Bowie. born 1948) Jones studied theatre at Syracuse University and quickly became a top model in Europe. which were part of the Kefauver Hearings on obscenity in 1957. She retains a legendary status as the 1950s queen of pinup. Brigitte Nielsen (Danish.000 at auction. born 1974) Moss has been photographed nude by Albert Watson in 1993 and Chuck Close in 2003. once in July of 1988 and again in October of 1998. Aside from her trademark mole. and several others. born 1955) Better known as just Iman. Photographer Tom Kelley photographed Monroe in 1950. this daughter of an ambassador began modeling at age 18. Harkening back to burlesque shows. She was featured partially nude in a campaign for Calvin Klein in 1993. Bettie Page (American. Bruni shows that nude modeling is not off-limits to those in high society. She has posed for the Pirelli calendar in 1998 and 2012. 1886—1958) Weston developed an interest in photography at the age of 16. born 1972) Dita von Teese was originally born Heather Sweet. Marilyn Monroe (American. including erotic nudes. she was the first black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue and quickly rose to supermodel status. film. born 1967) As the granddaughter of a wealthy Italian tire magnate and the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Iman Abdulmajid (Somalian. Inspiring Models It is not just photographers who contribute spirit to a body of work. Nudi. Lisa Lyon (American. 1923—2008) Bettie Page is an iconic figure in modeling and nude photography.Self-Expression and Style 103 in nature. she defied the modeling norm. Naomi Campbell (British. including full-length nude shots that appeared in a calendar. Mick Jagger. and appeared in Paolo Roversi’s 1999 book. Cindy Crawford (American. His work was eventually published in magazines like American Photography and Photo Era. Campbell began modeling at 15. before gaining fame in America. The fashion world quickly embraced her Somali looks. such as nudes and monumental closeups. both times by photographer Herb Ritts. While studying dance at the University of Michigan. as well as a controversial figure after her appearance in bondage photographs. In 2003. a series of works. Some models bring so much talent that they overshadow the photographers with whom they work. She has dated celebrities such as Donald Trump. Weston eventually became an icon of American photography. He began by shooting landscapes in his hometown of Chicago. An Amazonian six feet in height. famous for his renderings of natural forms. The alliance with Mapplethorpe produced the book. It was at this time that she worked as an art model. particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Moss’ slight. In 2010. Cindy Crawford was among the first to establish a “supermodel” status. actress and model Marilyn Monroe is one of the most famous and everlasting sex symbols in history. as a sexual icon. She went on to a flourishing career in modeling and acting. Weston trained at the Illinois College of Photography and then moved to California. and Eric Clapton. Dita von Teese (American. A regular in fashion circles. and modeling careers. where he worked in different studios until opening his own portrait studio. as well as many others. she received the Fashion Icon award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. 1926—1962) Born Norma Jeane Mortenson. Gisele Bündchen (Brazilian. She posed twice for Playboy. boyish figure is an archetype of one end of the range of body types that are admired in nude photography. such as Christian Dior. The Amazonian and sometimes androgynous Jones was known for her musical. Bruni began modeling at age 19 and eventually worked for major designers and fashion houses like Christian Dior. was published as a photographic story in the book Revenge. By the time she was 18. She appeared nude in Madonna’s 1992 book Sex. Madonna earned a scholarship that took her to New York. She worked as an actress as well and married actor Sylvester Stallone. Lisa Lyon. born 1953) World champion bodybuilder turned model. and he won several salon and professional awards for his pictorial.” Kate Moss (British. Paco Rabanne. One of her more iconic nudes includes her husband. She was featured in several pinup calendars and later appeared in the January’s Playboy centerfold in the year 1955.000 in 1993. von Teese straddles the line between fetish model and mainstream celebrity. A nude photograph of Bruni taken when she was a model was auctioned for $91. Lyon posed for photographic greats Helmut Newton and Robert Mapplethorpe. Crawford was also recognized . Lady. photographer Irving Penn photographed her nude in a black and white image that was sold for $193. born 1970) Trained in acting. born 1975) Jovovich was photographed by Richard Avedon when she was 11. soft-focus style. She worked with photographers Bunny Yeager and Irving Klaw. Givenchy. born 1980) Bündchen is a supermodel who has been featured in several popular campaigns.
the very best printers are exorbitantly expensive. there is still more to be done. Unless you are doing brisk business selling prints. you should invest in archival printing. You are not done with composition because nobody has seen the work.104 Exquisite Curves Presenting Your Work Once you have created your images with carefully crafted composition and have tediously tweaked the technical details. If you have chosen a frame well. glazed. whether in your own home or an art gallery. Occasionally. A colored mat can easily detract. Frames can be metal or wood and will need glass or acrylic to protect the print. but this. . an order of ink or paper in bulk will set you back more than the price that a shop will charge for a single print. and they will undoubtedly render one about your creations. but beware that high-resolution files allow people to print your work or otherwise appropriate it. We regularly exercise the judgment to let only our best work be seen. it is best to have a print shop create the output for you. But it would be a tragedy to produce interesting photography. The last step in a well-composed photograph is to make sure it is suitably presented.nudephotoguides. Art printers use pigmented ink that is applied in multiple layers and is more like paint than the watery inks found in consumer inkjet printers. an archival-quality or museum-quality print should not fade within your lifetime. No matter what size you post. The mat is the fiber-based border that separates the print from the glass. remember that having the middle of the photo at the average viewer's eye level is what is important. only to leave it permanently hidden from view. In a gallery setting. and properly lit.com/resources. The photographs should be printed large enough that the important details can be seen. and under constant temperature and humidity. You should select one that says it is made of archival materials. especially on a small print. A good distance between pieces is at least half the width of the framed print. If you are especially short or tall. work well with a photograph that features the same bright color as its main visual theme. framed. When displaying work online. where images are stacked vertically as well as horizontally. paired with a neutral mat. but not beyond the size limit imposed by the resolution of your file. they should be matted. The glass or acrylic is generically referred to as glazing. Everyone has an opinion. You want people to be able to see the details in your work. I have seen a brightly colored frame. what drives us to improve is to serve an audience. Artwork should be lit from above with lights that are angled at about forty-five degrees to avoid glare. The mat and frame should be chosen for how they complement the image. so they do not look like they are crowding the floorboards. out of direct sunlight. If you want your work to last. so make sure that any ornate or bright frames serve to draw the viewer to the artwork. there should be careful consideration given to reflections caused by other lights in the room. A list of print shops that produce archivalquality prints from nudes appears at www. The frame and mat should not overpower the work. If you are presenting prints. But do not shy away from exhibiting your work. take the same degree of care in producing the files. If you are presenting your images digitally. a colorful frame will work well with an image. evenly spaced in a single row at eye level. There are some compositional decisions to be made when hanging photographs. that is. not the frame. too. hung. discarding the weak. Ultimately. A larger mat border typically looks better than a narrow one. the viewer should notice the artwork. Glass is recommended for sizes of up to 30 inches and acrylic for larger sizes. A conscientiously-hung gallery exhibit has similarly sized work. consider that some people may be viewing your online work on very small devices. I recommend you publish files that are no larger than 1800x1200 pixels. Pieces that are several feet tall can be hung higher. or black mat. Adequately displayed. Once you have culled your images down to the very best. whether that audience is the world or a single viewer. gray. Non-glare glass tends to reduce visibility of the work and is not my preferred way of dealing with a poorly lit exhibit. so most images receive a neutral off-white. the lifeless. a blazing white mat looks out of place. Matting and framing photographs serves to protect them and provide a neutral or slightly enhancing border around the image. That size would still allow someone to print a high-quality post-card from your image. For one thing. Try to avoid having your work hung salon style. Putting your work on display can be intimidating. can compete with the image. Work should be at eye level and not hung too close together. The idea is to separate the photo from the wall. and the unimaginative ones. With some images. you are still not done.
You will need to consider what additional elements your composition needs to balance your offcenter subject. and in a sense. or she can be the dominant subject with the landscape serving as mere backdrop. when original.” A. such as special body wash. not just non-toxic paint. meaning you will explore various ways to approach a subject. though these ideas have been overplayed. shape.105 Shooting Assignments his selection of assignments is intended to challenge and educate you in the ways of nude composition. and supplies. but requires some research and planning. Nude in Landscape Putting the nude figure into a landscape requires the photographer to address issues of scale. which are also useful exercises. various widths of foam brushes. Make sure the model does not have allergies to the paint. or one that resembles tribal designs. Those that require doing something special with your equipment are grouped under the heading “experimental techniques. especially if you are using latex paint for which allergies are common. Think about what kind of cleanup will be required. body painting. Also. You can choose a body paint theme that is representational. Cleanup will require time. water. B. Some purists will argue that body painting does not count as nudity. Off-Center Subject This is a framing exercise. Buy some bona fide body paint. These shooting assignments are the counterpart to the section on postprocessing effects. A bit more interesting is to camouflage the model to blend in with a scene. Body Paint Body painting (B) can be a fascinating departure from the everyday nude. such as making a nude model look like a robot or an animal. Do not overdo the negative space. arrangement of elements. Consider collaborating with another artist to perform the actual painting if you lack the skill to pull it off. Place the subject as far from the center as possible (see Figure A). Gesture and line draws the viewer into the left half of the image. With the multitude of organic shapes in nature. Some of the assignments deal with visual themes. space. Nevertheless. Another idea is to create a design that relates to the shape of the body. Latex body paint can be applied using . Body paint. and visual pathway. can complement the lines of the body to create fascinating images. be aware of the issues of personal space that may be involved in the painting process. Visual Themes Each of the following themes is open to your interpretation as you develop and explore your style. there is ample opportunity to work with shapes to form repetition and to fit positive and negative space together in a fascinating way. These include setting. and lighting. Avoid a merger of the subject with the edge of the image. they are correct. If shooting a vast landscape. This subject is so off center that it is completely in the right half of the frame. and towels. both for your studio and for the model. such as geometric shapes. Each photographer will unquestionably arrive at his/her own results. you will want to use a wide or ultra wide-angle lens. The nude can be placed as a minor element in a larger tableau of a beautiful landscape (A). so there are no right answers.
and other parts of her body will not exhibit the normal pull of gravity. she could be next to. It is challenging for both model and photographer. Motion does not need to be high-speed. so maintain an awareness of that. Dry skin and other undesirable details become more apparent the closer you get.106 Exquisite Curves Implied Motion Create an image that gives the viewer a feeling of motion. try a subject that merges with two sides (B). Remember that a photograph of her observing the camera may not be the strongest reaction. There can also be issues of personal space if you are positioning the lens very close to the model. The exposure should be made at the end of the model’s movement upward. or behind it. Get Close This is another framing exercise. Have the model mimic the shape with her body. and motion that may occur. Focus can be a challenge with close subjects. Merge with Edges Make an exposure where the subject merges with (touches) one side of the frame. Levitation Have the model jump in the air and try to create a photograph that looks like levitation (B). with a shallow depth of field. It is better to have your model resting on a platform or furniture and your camera on a tripod. Frame the composition to emphasize the way the model fits into the shape. These types of motion can be achieved in separate images or in the same image. Next. She could be stuffed inside a rectangular box or doorway. motion that is imminent. . but there are more subtle cues about movement here. Shoot from as low as possible and as high as possible. This exercise can yield some interesting visual results. tire. The model does not need to be in contact with the shape. the image below (A) shows slow but obvious movement. body as you position the camera as low to the ground as possible. With low shots. because her hair. consider having her gaze in the same direction as the camera view. She could be wrapped around a pipe. very close to your subject. especially if model and photographer are both standing. she will not have enough time to assume a natural posture and the impression of gravity will be exaggerated by her jump. backdrop. The water splash is an obvious sign of motion that has just transpired. Multiple Vantage Points Pick a subject and scene and explore every possible vantage point. Your model will need to consider each vantage point when posing. Fit a Shape A. A model captured in mid leap would show motion that has occurred (her ascent) and is imminent (her descent). and then try a three-sided merger (C). or environment that provides a strong visual shape. The angle of the model’s body shows she is performing an athletic feat. You can use foam padding to cushion your B. For some vantage points. Choose a prop. If you make the exposure as she is traveling upward. We also know that she will soon come up for air. or barrel. At close distance. You may need to stand on a ladder for the high shots. in front of. If you make the exposure during her downward travel. The potential for motion could be suggested by a model holding an object that is poised to be dropped or a subject that looks to be contemplating action. It can be beneficial to let the model examine the captured poses every few shots. you may need a wide-angle focal length in order to capture the entire subject. Fill the frame or get so close that the subject seems larger than life (B). it will be apparent that she is falling. Try to achieve the following: motion that has just occurred. Get very. slight movements translate to out-of-focus images. before her travel stops and reverses direction. Your model also needs to have exceptional skin for a close-up. breasts.
C. A figure merged with the edges of the frame.
D. The background is a round softbox (umbrella box). Place the
To create a silhouette (D, E), you need a lit background and an unlit model. This assignment forces you to consider only the contour of your model. Recall the sections about subject/ground relationships (positive/ negative space), as well as shapes in general. There are some poses that lend themselves well to this and some that do not. Avoid mergers with other objects in the scene. You want a clean visual outline of the model. Putting the face in profile can help, as can tying up a long hairstyle. When calculating your exposure, remember that the model is supposed to be dark. It’s okay if you can see detail in the shadows, around her edges, and perhaps a few small areas of the body, but the majority of her should be murky. Even though the model will have few if any details, you will generally want to focus on her. However, there may be instances where having some other interesting part of the scene in focus can be effective. Experiment with silhouettes now and again when you see an opportunity. Translucent objects, such as fabrics, can add a captivating touch to a silhouette. Some interest-
light off-axis to the lens to avoid flare, ghosting, and other problems associated with shining light directly into the lens.
This silhouette was created with a single light on a boom, aimed down at the background.
and manually focus. Mirrors and Windows Photographs featuring mirrors and windows create a frame within a frame. B. Multiple Exposures with a Hand-Held Light For this assignment. bright area and a way to keep the light off your model. Multiple exposures with a hand-held light. or it can consist of abstract shapes. a large body of water. have an undetermined outcome. Typical times would be between four and sixty seconds. to see what else you can produce. It may also be helpful to have some manner of limiter on the light. The strobe needs to be significantly brighter than the available light. even after initial successes. You will need to experiment with the exposure and decide what works best. compose the scene. the task is the same: to juxtapose this interior frame with the other elements in an interesting composition. Catching the reflection of the sun in a body of water or the bright part of any surface can increase the contrast effect. You can achieve a lower-contrast effect by using a piece of netting. facing into the sun is quite helpful. keep trying. so that you can make a long exposure with multiple flash bursts. barn doors. lace or similar cloth to cast the shadows. and a window. You can also use a commercially available device called a gobo projector to create cast shadows. but the improvised methods usually look more interesting. or a grid. you will need a tripod and a strobe or flash that can be hand-held. . produce some degree of frustration. such as a snoot. Regardless of the contents. a fire. I tend to prefer images with the lit areas properly exposed and the shadow areas nearly black. If you are outdoors. Sunlight filtering through tree leaves or venetian blinds would be a conventional way to produce this effect.108 Exquisite Curves ing backgrounds for a silhouette include a large softbox. a cave opening. The exposure needs to be long enough for you to fire the flash between two and five times. Experimental processes. Projected Shadows Experiment with casting shadows on your subject. All you need is a large. by definition. Activate the timer and move into position with the A. Meter the ambient light and meter your flash. This kind of lighting is typically very high contrast. Projected shadows. and hopefully end with at least one shot that stands well above what you could have achieved with a less daring approach. Set for an exposure that will be adequately exposed for the flash and underexposed by at least two stops with the ambient light. an open doorway. Experimental Techniques The following will require more effort. So. Set the camera on selftimer mode. a sunset. The mirror or the window can contain a separate scene. a cloudy sky.
Move the strobe to a second position.0 should be sufficient. foreground elements. you will need to also open up the f-stop. then experiment with out-of-focus areas. and immediately. D. The soft halo effect is achieved in-camera with an out-of-focus period of exposure after the in-focus flash exposure. or increasing your shutter speed in the case of natural light. For a brief video tutorial of this technique. Something between f1. See “Focus” on page 55. You may prefer an intricate background instead of a plain surface. Unlike in the previous variation. Each area should have distinguishable elements. Variation 3 If you are ready for something a little unusual and demanding. The tricky part of this is to achieve correct exposure for both the strobe and the continuous lighting. There should be a gradual transition from sharp to soft in the image (C). gel the background lights. Trip the shutter. Unless your continuous lights are very bright. For additional interest. fire it again. each with one of the following variations: Variation 1 To produce selective focus (shallow depth of field). you can achieve an effect of mixed sharpness and unsharpness (See figure D on this page.4 and f4. Set up a studio lighting situation where your model is lit by a strobe that does not illuminate the background. Next. Examine the image of the model. Attempt to create a series of images along this theme. Notice the softbox in the example (B). Variation 2 Create a significant dichotomy with an unsharp area that contrasts with a sharp area. throw the focus to the minimum distance. after the flash fires. depth of field. The result will be a crisp Creative Unsharpness Re-read the section on focus. This generally means dialing down the power for studio strobes. though the elements in the unsharp C. and when it has recycled. light the background with continuous lighting. Use a light meter to make separate measurements of the strobe output and the continuous lighting. and Bokeh. fire the strobe. area do not need to be representational. try to achieve an abrupt contrast between sharp and soft areas. . Set your camera to manual focus. Take note of any undesirable effects. Then place your subject(s). visit the “Reader’s Links” on page 112. Repeat until the shutter closes. notice if you accidentally silhouette yourself against the background. Try this exercise several times. Focus on your model and keep your hand on the focus knob. examining the result after each attempt. Unsharpness created with a large aperture and varying subject distances. such as capturing your own image in the bounced light when you are too close to the model. When the shutter opens. and background element at varying distances. overlapping flashes will produce varying degrees of desirability in the effect. Also. and A on the next page) through the following in-camera technique.Shooting Assignments 109 strobe. choose a lighting arrangement that allows a large aperture (small f-stop).
Depending on how much the model moves during the extending exposure. you should see some interesting edges between her and the background. If the mixture is too thick for your taste. If you are lucky enough to find a deserted section of beach.110 Exquisite Curves A. This effect should work at just about any f-stop because it does not rely on depth of field. The resulting images may look like they are done in Photoshop. you can use half water and half glycerin. You can do several things to enhance texture. but the entire effect is created during a single exposure. image of your model and a very out-of-focus background. you can explore what naturally exists. A mix of a long exposure of a busy background and flash exposure of the foreground. This is one of those processes that is not entirely predictable. but if you get close enough. but that is part of the enjoyment. Explore Texture Try some techniques to alter the texture of skin or some other part of the model. C. emphasize the texture of your subject. • Have the model roll in the sand (C). B. During the 8-second exposure. Here are some ideas: • Use stage sweat (B). It does not evaporate as quickly as water and creates beads that are easier to see. Glycerin can be found at drug stores and discount retailers. Sand used to create texture. You do not need to include the whole model in the frame or even half of her. . the lens was focused to one foot and the aperture changed to f/4 from the f/16 setting used for the flash. Stage sweat is two parts glycerin to one part water. Remember to get close when shooting texture. It is used as a skin protectant and is relatively inexpensive. Apply the stage sweat with a spray bottle. or place a texture near your subject. a dip in the water and a roll in powdery sand will quickly alter the texture of skin. The formula is two parts glycerin to one part water.
Do not despair as you struggle. If your tools are limiting. Others might dismiss opera because they cannot understand the words or because the music does not hold their interest. If you have decent equipment. The same thing goes for cluttering up your photo with everything that comes to mind. whether it be painting. not what you think will amaze others. to “wow” the viewer. can evoke powerful emotions. Thank you for reading this guide.nudephotoguides. An art instructor once told me that if you are going to be an artist. Visual images are full of enigma. This is not to say that you have to acquire large volumes of tools or break the bank on a single . Sketch out your ideas. As you are assembling your knowledge of the fundamentals. An erotic nude in an art gallery or museum may be more accepted by viewers than a more modest nude confronting them when they least expect it. you are working towards a state where you operate off of instinct and impulse. Nude images. that influence opinions. Rule bending should fall somewhere between a continuum of monotony and utter chaos. but they may recognize and appreciate its artistic merits. photography. or to draw them in more deeply? In addition. No longer will you be thinking in terms of following rules. Composition does not have to be about dramatic photographic effects or stunning concepts. including research. I sincerely hope what I have written helps you to become more satisfied with your photography. Create photographs that express your ideas. execution. architecture.111 Closing y planning your compositions. Although a creatively composed photograph may result from careful planning. Spend more time looking at your work than you do creating it. it is not a contest to see how many lights you can use in one shot. Even the context in which an image is seen can influence how it is interpreted. Not everyone is interested in dramatic effects. Feel free to send feedback via the reader’s section on my web site (www. other than your house or car. Nobody improves without paying dues by enduring his/her share of setbacks. you should prepare yourself for occasional obstacles as you practice. you will find yourself spending more money on art supplies than any other category in your life. alcohol. There is no guarantee that people will view and interpret your images in the way you would like. especially. composition can suffer from being overly simple or overly cluttered. One might not like opera. There is no right or wrong answer. Collect interesting images. This is similar to something I tell people about lighting.com/readers). Although the camera does not lie. but it gets at what drives your style. A thematic approach helps build a consistent body of work. there is no reason you cannot strive for both. And spend as much time looking at the compositions of others. Aesthetic appreciation is a little like musical taste. Oversimplification can be caused by thoughtless framing and posing. they will define your composition. This is not to say that dramatic effects are invalid. Taking your composition to the next level does not necessarily mean adding more stuff to your images. planning. Brief Words about Equipment What does equipment have to do with composition? You can only attempt that for which you have adequate tools to create. Are you looking for immediate impact. Ask yourself what you want out of your images and why you are making them. Do not add compositional elements without a reason. both favorable and unfavorable. even draw over your own photographs to create notes for your next shoot. After reading the lessons in this book. your vision will dictate. You will spend more on your tools and materials than you will on food. it does not have to look planned or posed. Another way of thinking about it: if you have a successful compositional concept. I recommend you take a structured approach to design photographs. it can tell selective truths. but there are informed opinions. as you do looking at your own work. But you should also expect a degree of joy as you discover new methods and observe a shift in your style. At the extremes. This is not to say that spontaneity is not an essential element. for example. you invigorate your photography. What would make you feel more fulfilled: to have someone say your photograph is amazing after looking at it for ten seconds? Or to have someone tell you that they spent ten minutes studying it and still do not know what to make of it? There is no right answer to this question. so you can refer to them when planning your shoots. You are following that inner vision that guides you to design your images. and evaluation in a systematic process. just as movies with car chases and explosions may fascinate some audiences but not others. or nature. and entertainment. Everyone finds composition difficult. adding anything else will probably create distraction or confusion. just that they are only one of many styles you could choose.
but it doesn’t hurt. It is okay if you have to wait a few seconds for the image to load or for a filter to be processed. If you want to make enormous. One monitor is for viewing the image you are editing. Investments other than equipment can be the key to achieving superior results. Think outside the box when it comes to spending on your photography. including Photoshop files. but the other can be an economy model. with your spending being in line with your means. and the other one is for your tools and other software panels. These will help you understand and experiment with the concepts in this book. camera order to produce good work. But when you are using a brush tool. Other factors being equal. One good quality lens is better than a dozen mediocre ones. You can download these files for your personal use by going to http://www.112 Exquisite Curves tools. Aside from model fees. I advise against storing your images on the same hard drive as your program files. With a sharp lens. but it does not dictate the quality of your ideas or your ability to use the Reader’s Links There are many images. You can tell the degree to which someone is serious about photography by its place in his or her life. but you cannot make a sharp image with a soft lens. other good uses for your money are traveling to an inspiring location. Serious artists spend as much or more on their tools as they do for their own survival. camera files get larger and so does the capacity of available hard drives. you will need enough so that you can edit full resolution images without delay. they would rather shoot than socialize. expands the range of techniques you could choose to attempt. you can choose to make a soft image. I have never believed that it takes tons of money to produce a good image. More equipment. on my website. For the enthusiast. Physical size is supreme when it comes to digital sensors. then enter the login information: username: curves password: thinkwell . Your primary monitor should be the highest quality you can afford. I recommend you purchase two different grades of monitors in the same size. photography occupies a notch or two lower on the priority list. For example. unique props. When it comes to computing power. The megapixel count should be matched to your intended use for the photographs. Many photographers prefer a two-monitor set-up. some photographers produce outstanding work by shooting with a single lens. the computer must respond in real time. Your equipment need only be a high priority. you may need a large sensor size. Use the top-quality monitor to check color and sharpness while postprocessing and the other monitor just to extend your screen for browsing files and organizing editing tools. working its way into their lives when it can. Having a separate data drive will increase processing performance and make it easy to archive folders. The one place you do not want to underestimate is the amount of hard drive space you can fill. Over time. a large image sensor will outperform. and they spend their off time thinking about what and how they are going to shoot next. I typically buy a new hard drive for each year of shooting. This is especially true when it comes to edited Photoshop files. I am not saying you need to be obsessed. You need to create a situation to photograph in order to take advantage of equipment.com/reader/ Click on the title of this book. and materials for creating sets and effects. With it said that sacrificing equipment is sacrificing photography’s place in your life. and better equipment.nudephotoguides. but there are many shots they cannot attempt. sharp prints.
gray. A term that designates sensual ideas but is not synonymous with pornography. rule of thirds. See diagonal armature. or black. To divide into two equal or nearly equal parts. atmospheric perspective The effect that causes distant objects to appear hazy.113 Glossary achromatic A color without hue: white. her hair. Verb: to compose. dimorphism Male/female differences. see SLR. alignment (Gestalt) Lining up elements along their edges or centers. active space The space in front of a moving subject that he/she appears to be traveling toward. between compositional depth of field The area in front and behind the main subject that is in focus. stair-step effect on curved or diagonal lines due to the limits of resolution. comprised of cyan. from Japanese). an object in the background. Used in this book to mean any single identifiable part or subpart of a photographic scene: the model. pattern) within a visual presentation. closure (Gestalt) The Gestalt phenomenon by which the mind completes the missing pieces implied by a design. aliasing A jagged. magenta. erotic false color A use of color that does not approximate reality. color scheme A set of colors combined for a purpose. harmonic armature. anti-aliasing A system of various techniques for minimizing the distortion artifacts known as aliasing . the floor. to create a sense of order and purpose. . armature The fundamental lines of direction of flow that connect the main compositional movement to the picture plane. constancy (Gestalt) The perceptual phenomenon in which an object appears to remain the same size regardless of its distance from the observer. the sky. composition The arrangement of elements (line. Also see ground and negative space. especially contrasting halves. Equilibrium elements. following a vertical or horizontal axis. ambient light Indirect light existing due to bounce off of surfaces in the scene. DSLR element Digital Single Lens Reflex. aerial perspective See atmospheric perspective. (der. and narrative of a visual presentation (vs. the model’s hand. information. content contour The subject. differential focus See selective focus. figure General usage: the body. A defined edge (line) between two distinct colors or tones. Bokeh may be described as attractive or unattractive for a particular lens. common contour Where two shapes share the same edge. background Parts of an image that are behind the main subject and not considered additional subject. etc. and black. a wall. design Noun: a composition. a prop. meaning. Bokeh (or Boke) The aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photograph. backlit balance bisect Subject illuminated from behind. dichotomy A division into two halves. bodyscape An abstraction of the body composed to resemble a landscape (typically faceless). CMYK Color mode used in printing. shape. yellow. form). bounced light Indirect light that is reflected off a surface and onto the subject. muted in color and contrast. Figure/ground relationship: the subject of a composition.
gamut GIMP grayscale ground hue isolation The entire range of a color space. yellow. Recommended capture format to preserve all information before editing with software. In figure/ground relationship. pixel The smallest element of an image that can be individually processed on a monitor. depth). picture plane The proportion and scale of your image. A lighting modifier used to bounce light onto a subject. pan To move the camera laterally while making an exposure. Also see: Mach effect. saturation The intensity of a color. An image composed of shades of gray.). green. it can include the background. Also leading line or guiding line. Important in establishing balance. framing element Parts of a composition that serve to frame the subject. RGB Red. vertical. Verb: The act of deciding what elements are included and omitted in the field of view. The structure of a visual presentation. Mach effect A visual effect (optical illusion) where a band of gradation is seen where two contrasting tones or colors meet. penumbra A narrow gradation at the margin between a shadow and a lit area. and other elements. through physical or electronic means. pre-visualize The process of visualizing an artistic goal before beginning an imaging project. The ratio of the picture plane sets the stage for the composition. negative space The space around or between subjects. etc. A monochromatic image with a neutral hue is called grayscale. photomontage The combination of images. perspective The depiction of spatial relationships (e. horizontal. For example. rectangle. to form a new image. everything that is not the main subject. portrait lens A lens of sufficient focal length to minimize distortion and shallow depth of field to be suitable for portraits. perspective compression The effect of a narrow field of view created by a long lens. including physical and theoretical concepts. The process of removing the background from an image to isolate the subject. scale The sense of size and proportion as used in a composition. Green. Also called chroma. foreground. orange. rotational symmetry Symmetry around a point. leading line See line of force. lens. line of force A dominant line that guides the viewer to a point of interest. representational content Parts of a visual presentation that give a literal meaning. reflector reification See closure (Gestalt). selective focus Using limited depth of field for compositional purposes. as seen in YinYang or a playing card. a model may be framed by standing in an open doorway. distinguished by hard edges. An image with a single hue is said to be tinted. Noun: The outer borders of an image. square. . Free alternative to Photoshop photo editing and retouching software.g. The classification of color by wavelength (red.114 Exquisite Curves flare form frame Non-image forming light entering the lens. RAW file Unprocessed image capture. monochromatic Having only one hue. Blue—the three primary colors of additive color used in monitor and photo sensors. juxtaposition The placement of elements near each other for purposeful contrast or balance. that de-emphasizes the feeling of depth. blue. answering “What is this a photograph of?” resolution The ability of a monitor. or imaging sensor to render fine detail. Does not have a color space or white balance associated with it. Negative space should not be confused with background. created by linear and atmospheric effects.
Sperry.Glossary 115 selective vision A mental lapse of not seeing details due to concentration or distraction. Krages. 17.doi:10. George. A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience”. 1980. symmetry The correspondence in size. 6-7.” The History Channel website. Mathematical Association of America. Regarded as a critical measure of flash duration for stop-action photography. Hirstein. t0. Nead. 17 April 2010. Dualism. The Negative. 2011. stop down To select a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number). Zeigarnik effect The psychological tendency for unfinished tasks to occupy the mind. A measure of lightness or darkness. R. Charles. An idea or motif for a work of art or series of works. pp.” Neuroscience 5: 195-206. “Symmetry and Sexual Dimorphism in Human Faces”. Doubleday Anchor Books. Elsevier.org. 2008. form. 2002. t0. The A-Z of Creative Photography. steep perspective Emphasizing spatial separation by including close and far objects in the same image. www. A shadow without its penumbra. Perrett DI “Skin Blood Perfusion and Oxygenation Colour Affect Perceived Human Health. Galer. Kenneth. Little. visual pathway The sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices.5. The main part of a shadow. The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography.1371/journal. Keith. John.D. Mark. Crown Publishing Group. Devlin. 2009.. Focal Press. Chris. Hess. http:// www. Photography Foundations for art and design. Anthony C. Coetzee V..5 theme tone translucent transparent umbra vantage point The location from which a photo is taken. Journal of Consciousness Studies. subject against a lighter background. 1992. The Golden Ratio: the Story of PHI. Typically if not specified. SLR Single Lens Reflex (camera). 1980. Ansel. “Mind-Brain Interaction: Mentalism. Comon. Penguin Books Ltd. Obscenity.history. Johnson. Berger. Fundamentals of Photo Composition. No. Frost. No. Lee. The Nude. “Leonardo da Vinci. and arrangement of elements on opposite sides of a design. 2011. 1999. mostly two-dimensional. Web.com/topics/leonardo-da-vinci (accessed Sept. Mario. Lark Books. “Misconceptions about the Golden Ratio.” Devlin’s Angle. 2008.” The College Mathematics Journal 23. E. “The Science of Art. Bouleau. Markowsky. Yes. and Sexuality. 2005. The time it takes for 50% of the total power of a studio flash to dissipate. Bert.. Photography the Art of Composition. t0.1093/beheco/arn049. Blue. visual statement See visual presentation. Fier. Lynda. John Wiley and Sons. Bibliography Adams. “The Myth That Will Not Go Away. Paul R. visual presentation A collection of elements assembled for the purpose of expression. April 1965. 2012. Permitting light to pass through but diffusing it so that people and objects on the opposite side are not clearly visible. Often about three times as long as t0.0005083.5 is assumed. Permitting light to pass enough that people and objects on the opposite side are distinctly seen.W. 17 April 2010. “Attitude and Pupil Size. 4th edition.pone.. W.” Scientific American.1 The time it takes for 90% of the total power of a studio flash to dissipate. Law Smith M.mma. 2010. Ways of Seeing. Clark. Ramachandran. the World’s Most Astonishing Number. Livio. Behavioral Ecology doi:10. 15-51. Psychology Press. V. The Female Nude: Art. Hacker Art Books. New York Graphic Society. 6. 2003. silhouette A dark. Random House. Composition Photo Workshop. Stephen I. 2007. 2011). . 1959. The painter's secret geometry: a study of composition in art. Skyhorse Publishing Inc.” PLoS ONE 4(4): 5083.1(1992): 2-19.
116 Exquisite Curves .
55 automatic 29 out-of. 27 pinup 98. 40. 32 categories of 32 color 19 controlling 63 successive 23 curves 11. 103 medium format 46. 48 illustration 51 L T texture 6. 56. 47. Edward 44. 109 M U D V vanishing point 39 illustration 25. 40. 18. 101. 68.Index abstraction 5. 20. 14. 107. 68 focal length 56 focus 24. 41. 106 Gestalt 39. 53. 62. 3. 60 to the right 66 face 36. 34 black and white. 30. 67. 73. 105. 109 shadows 24. 101 alignment 8. 103. 38 ambiguity 12. 103 point of interest 32. 60 illusion 11. 103 wide-angle lens 26. 51. 77 depth of field 26. 103 Newton. 57. See Fibonacci spiral steep perspective 26 illustration 26 G R H I high key 22. 52 scale 24. 24. 107 unsharpness 27. 55. 25. 108 umbrella 59. 55. 30. 101. 26. 46. 95. 55. 46. 102. 71. 111 exposure 16. 61 histogram 16. 63. See unsharpness foreshortening 27. See ambiguity negative space 11. 67. 48. 59 Weston. 74. 32. 99 assignment 105 S C chiaroscuro 25 color primary 14. 65 monochrome 17. 99 Props 72 props 93. backlight 61. 12 emotion 2. 53. 3. 46 atmospheric 25. 69. 77. 101 RAW mode 16. 102 isolation 35. 29 assignment 108 mystery. Robert 98. 56 assignment 105. 37 normal lens 57 nude in landscape 24. 5. 102. 25. 77 foveal vision 5 framing 57. 33. 50. 55. 101 assignment 106 vignette 63 visual pathway 40. 100. 34. 7. 27. 99 background 11. 33. 60. 99 bokeh 56 assignment 109 brain hemispheres 5 A B film 34. 65. 63. 107 Newton. 33. 70. 53 Also see negative space. 20 Mapplethorpe. 102 motion 27 assignment 106 multiple exposure 28. 50 dichotomy 33 dimorphism 73 drawing 2. 43 vantage point 26. 106. 33. Isaac 15. See focus silhouette 61 assignment 107 skin tones 18 softbox 59. 76. 46 lighting 59. 38. Helmut 102. 108 golden mean 44 P peripheral vision 5 perspective 24. 17 temperature 18. 57 minor key 60. 108 spiral 42 Fibonacci. 33. 61 Mach effect 11. 32 color space 15 color wheel RGB 15 warm/cool 17 common contour 11 contrast 17. 97 gobo 62. 20. 42. 101. 77 Leonardo Da Vinci 12. 17. 70. 48 arms 10. 106. 22 retouching 18. 36. 38 perspective 43 low key 22. 111 armature 45. 6. 107 balance 30. 101. 59. 40 false color 64 Fibonacci spiral 45. 73. 22 warm/cool 17. Ansel 4. 49. 4. 62. 60. 42. 27. 65 montage 32. 87. 52. See monochrome body of work 101 body painting assignment 105 bodyscape 58. 65 assignment 108 sharpness. 109 false 69 diagonals 9. 54 assignment 110 tripod 29. 12. 26. 97. 27. 95. 66 legs 10. 99. 33. 25. 50. 106 E N W Z F zone system 65 117 . 37 portrait lens 56 portraiture 72. 108 assignment 106 furniture 72. 65. 69 rule of thirds 44 illustration 48. 101 Adams. 105 selective focus 56. 69. 64. 98 erotic 3. 34. 63. 43. See lines of force oblique 10 of force 8. 75. 30. 12. 62 illustration 61 lines 8 irregular 10 leading.
His methods are straightforward and not difficult to learn. These proven methods are rooted in the science of psychology. studio to location. posing.. with additional images. there was little prudishness. you will learn what can be achieved and how to make it work for you. expanded and updated. From indoor to outdoor. articles. In the Middle East. as well as frank discussions of techniques and pitfalls in the days and weeks leading up to making a nude image. stock agencies. Learn the art and skill of using light and controlling shadows. His exhibit work consists mainly of photomontage.nudephotoguides. From just one light in a small room to elaborate creative setups. including museum visits and other cultural experiences. a long stint as a freelance artist. From the plainspoken to the artistic.118 Exquisite Curves Other Books by A. The first book by this author. From finding your first nude model to selling your first nude photo. Additional information at www. pro per etiquette. each lighting configuration is diagramed in painstaking detail. K. sometimes printed life-sized. th e ability to h arness Internet technology. Nude! A Guide to Lighting the Female Nude for Photography This guide shows you how to use light to photograph nude female models and create various moods and effects. and a career as a professional photographer. photographing nudes. and Build Working Relationships.. His background includes an art degree. His first nude shoot was a complete surprise to him when a classmate in college assumed that his invitation to model meant for her to be nude. and photographing many hundreds of nude sessions. ISBN-13: 978-1463684365 Lights. including how to avoid some common mistakes and to encourage your creativity. There is no brain surgery here. These techniques are suitable for anyone who is serious about finding models and building long-term working relationships. and an understanding of professional relationship building. this follow-up book concentrates purely on Nicholas’ nude lighting style. More than just studio lighting. as framed prints. For those who loved the lighting section in the first book and want even more. and postprocessing images (and maybe even getting paid to do it). and diagrams. He is happiest when working on creative projects and devotes as much time as possible to new ideas. Nicholas is an American photographer with a passion for collaborating with models and sharing knowledge. This tome is born from decades of experience screening countless applications from aspiring models. He writes to help you learn from his experience. fully revised. ISBN-13: 978-1456390075 About the Author A. you will see full lighting diagrams. in most of Europe. K. His first camera was hand-made from an oatmeal box for a middle-school project. ISBN-13: 978-0-9850264-1-7 Up to My Eyeballs in Nude Women Techniques to Recruit and Direct Models.com . text. A range of processes are explained step-by-step. Nicholas True Confessions of Nude Photography (Second Edition) A step-by-step guide to recruiting beautiful models. he put in his dues clerking and staffing the darkroom of a camera store. when he picks up a camera. and postprocessing with Photoshop. and gallery exhibits. just knowing what to do and what not to do through the benefit of the author’s experience. These days. You will find more than just a selection of photographs and a dissection of each. Camera. interviewing thousands. concise instruction on lighting. Th i s b oo k of f er s cl e a r a nd effective techniques on how to approach women and recruit them as nude models. In his youth. In the decades since then. he has photographed hundreds of nude models for publication in books. His second favorite thing is helping others further their artistic endeavors. it is to fulfill a personal calling and not the agenda of a client. everything is described. lighting. he observed how women's bodies were hidden from public view. product advertisements. the guide presents complete. His vision is colored by being raised abroad and traveling to dozens of countries.
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