I was recently asked to judge a year-end photo competition for a local and longstanding (79 years) photography club, The Springfield Photography Society. I was judging the event with two other individuals. There were, I believe, over 160 images for us to view. After viewing all the images, we agreed very quickly on Best in Show. Lady Sewing by Firelight by Barbara Krawczyk.
There were many excellent photos to view and judge, however, the winning piece was clearly evident to us. After the judging I wondered myself what was it about that particular image that made it easy to pick out as Best in Show? I realized there were several factors about the work that were not just appealing but were exemplary of certain artistic and photographic techniques. Lady Sewing by Firelight used several time-proven artistic procedures.
The first photographic technique (what some writers refer to as Photo 101) is the use of the rule of thirds. This rule is reflected in the crop tool in Photoshop. Some camera display screens are gridded in the rule of thirds.. The rule of thirds breaks the image up by two evenly spaced horizontal lines and two evenly spaced vertical lines. This divides the image space into nine even sections. The four points where the vertical and horizontal lines cross is usually considered the spot in which to place the points of interest. For more information on rule of thirds click here.
The winning photograph lines up nicely based on the rule of thirds.
Long used in art as well as found throughout nature is the spiral formed by the Fibonacci Sequence. For an article about Fibonacci in photography click here. Sometimes it is referred to as the Fibonacci ratio. The ratio is often found in natural elements from spirals in flower petals to the inside of shells. The spiral has been called the Devine ratio because of its universal use in nature. This piece exemplifies this artistic concept.
The artistic term, Chiaroscuro, use of strong contrast between light and dark with use of lighting, can be applied to this photograph. Use of chiaroscuro dates back to the renaissance period and has long been an important technique for depicting form and volume. In Lady Sewing by Firelight, the warm natural lighting evokes emotion from the viewer.
All of these elements together are important to a composition and the viewers reaction to it. Many other photographs in the competition also utilized these rules and techniques. So what makes this image special?
When looking at an image it is, of course, subject matter that captures a viewer. How the photographer is able to convey a mood or feeling in her work often needs to be carried by the subject. In this case, the subject appears unposed, almost unaware of the photographer. Her absorption in her work is evident and lends the work a sense of authenticity. Along with the character, her setting is authentic as are the clothing and tools the character uses. It is this authenticity that allows the viewer to accept that this is an other worldly (or other time) place and person. We, the viewers, are given a peek into another world; a world captured by a masterful artist.
Photo used by permission of Barbara Krawczyk. All rights belong to the Artist.