A couple of posts back we talked about the concept of grounding as it related to relationships between earth and sky. You can catch up on that by reading here.
Today we are talking about a different aspect of grounding. Specifically, I am interested in exploring the amount of ground needed beneath a person to keep them from floating in space or standing upon the margin of the image boundaries.
Here is a capture from the latest Worldesigns Photo Costa Rica tour. A combination of limited lens choice and a fleeting moment directed the in-camera framing you see here. In balancing between the figures and the setting sun, I was forced to center my horizon. This image has two options for exploration, removing sky or removing ground. In today’s installment, I am going to remove ground. How much ground can we remove before the silhouetted figures look unnatural?
Consider these progressively tighter crops:
At a certain point, the figures become too close to the edge of the frame. The bottom image is clearly over the edge. While a sliver of beach exists between the figure’s feet and the image boundary, they look like they are literally, standing on the edge.
Working our way back up the second-from-the-bottom image clearly shows separation from the edge. Is it enough? Probably not?
The second image down is starting to look better, primarily due to the two-tones in the beach sand beneath the level of the feet. This gives us an illusion of depth that helps the placement It is tight to be sure but it seems to be becoming more reasonable.
The top crop is closest to original camera framing. It places the feet midway between the frame edge and the wet reflective sand. This works. Our sensibilities are satisfied that the figures are well-contained within the frame but it also allows us a little compositional freedom from our original in-camera framing.
If your looking for a rule of thumb for people, generally, I like to start at the height of the ankle bone to the sole of the foot distance below the bottom of the foot. Since we have two people of disparate height in the image, I use the taller person as my guide. Ankle bone to sole distance below the foot minimum and our sensibilities are usually satisfied. Sometimes that varies due to image content and other factors but it works as a good starting point.
Now the sun? How much sky is needed to hold that glowing orb? We will tackle that next time.
Rikk Flohr © 2011