Odd vs Even



In my last post I dealt with negative space, white space or the “rule of space” as it is also called. It was well received, and I though why not leading it into more posts about compositions.

Our eyes sees for us, but our brain lies to us

I am going to try to elaborate on a technique I that I find really difficult, a composition rule with the odd name the “rule of odds”. Lines and groups lead our eye. Our mind is built in such a way that certain patterns are more appealing to us. The reason is that our eyes seek towards the center of a group. This is pleasingly simple when the number is three, but when the number is even, our focus ends up at the negative space in center.

How odd is odd

So our brains like odd groups because it easily finds the center of the focus and the center of an image with elements of three. But what about five and beyond counts of odd numbers. Three is optimal for our perception; five will work as well, but not equally well. As soon as the number becomes more than 5 then it is hard for the eye to delineate how “many” there is. To counter and avoid this confusion, simply group the elements in groups matching 3 or 5 again making the image more pleasing for the eye.

Henri Cartier Bresson “Coronation of King George VI London 1937”

Composing down to the number of three

Simplification goes really well hand in hand with both Negative Space, and Rule of Odds. It has to do with removing what is not essential for the photography. And it can help us achieving a well balance photo where motive and surrounds balance out, but also makes us rethink out photo and striving for the rule of odds. In painting it is much easier to implement, than it is in photography. While you simply do not paint the elements that do not contribute to the painting, in photography it requires a lot more leg work, cropping and controlling your perspective.

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