Curves, an expression of sensuality

In my last post I touched briefly on S-Curves, and it got me thinking further about curves and how curves has similarities with organic shapes. Like organic shapes is curves very communicative, by bringing them into our composition they create a very pleasing dynamic and aesthetically emotion for our audience. And a great thing, once you start looking for them, you will find them everywhere.

What curves does for our eye

Curves are graceful and energetic they bring rhythmic and dynamic to an image. Photos with curves makes it easy for the audience to connect with the picture, they can give perspective, and they can connect, separate objects or just create a balance in the frame. Curves lead the viewer’s eye through the picture, he is simply compelled to follow the lines.

Our love of Curves

There is different kind of curves, from almost semi-circles to more gentle curves. We find them everywhere: the curves of a women body, a road s-curving through a scene, a bridge arching over a river, a shoreline stretching into the horizon. The arched curve, the s-curve, the c-curve all interesting curves, but with different abilities.

S Curves, the line of beauty.

S Curve is a little tricky to find, but once you start getting the eye for them then they are here there and everywhere. Photographers and painters alike, is attached to this line. We admire properties, its perfect grace and balance. It is truly the line of beauty. What I love most about it, is its ability to create perspective. It leads the audience through the frame and at the same time combines Charm and Strength.

This photo is a really story teller. The s-curved road creates a visual journey from one part of the image to another. It tells a story about depth and perspective. Because the cars is placed where lines converge, they are given more importance in the frame and draw the viewer’s attention directly to them. The alarming red color enhances the attention further, at that point in time I hated my own car utterly.

The directions of the slopes of the hills, provides an impression of depth. Even though the S isn’t spelled out of the viewer it still leads his eye. One misconception is that S-curves is to be smooth, and be exactly s-shaped, where the lines flow from one end to another, in one single continuous shape. This is far from the case, edges can be more Z-shaped, and it is very seldom proportional. It can be abrupt, where part of the s shape is implied or end up as a part of an organic shape.

What levitates a photo from being a random snap to a deliberate photo, is a composition where the viewer is thought into the photo. How our viewer’s eyes enters the image, studies it, and exits at the point where the lines end. This path is generally known as the eye flow. This example breaks the rules a little, while it is essential to keep the lines simple and clean. As the river The S curve its way through the forest, it creates a very dynamic image. The entry point is the dominant foreground and the eye will naturally follow it to its end. 

In the next example by Claus Møller, is there is a very identifiable subject, a Heron in flight.  It makes a distinct motive, with a huge amount of negative space I the simple background.  The focus of the composition is to direct your eye to the subject and to separate it from the background so that it is made as non-distracting as possible.

The S shape do not have to be very pronounced before it add greatly to the tranquility and perspective.

Catenary, the C Curve.

If who look at C Curves then they are much, much easier to find than S Curves, they are practically to be found everywhere. Suspension bridges, cables hanging between poles, bridges, Seashores often have a C curve, a women hips. Besides from being obviously pleasing to look at and has great potentials. They very relaxing to look at, the bridge or further the distance of what seems apart, they are incredible elegant and sensual, and lead our eyes around obstacles, they call for attention and suggest for a possible balance.

In this example from the Island of San Giulio. It features a Romanesque basilica and the monastery of the Benedictine order. The island is to be fund in lake Orta San Giulio, Italy, which lies enclosed by wooded mountainside and encircled by shores rich in history and art, it is undoubtable one of the most fascinating locations in in Italy. This is taken from a path, which leads us around the Basilica. It is not one of my most interesting pictures, nor sharpest, yet does it show the mental effect of the curve. Our eyes is lead into the pictures, and onwards to the leading lines of the track. At the same time is the curve giving us a pleasing feeling of tranquility.

Implied Curves, spot them and use them

For me the most effective curves the subtle ones, sadly they are also the most difficult ones to identify and use. Implied curves, is when objects in the frame imply the shape. Implied curves works much stronger on us than the outlined curves of a road snaking its way through the landscape.

Though implied you can still look at the s-curve as a dividing line, it forces us to pay attention to what is divided. I am sure many of you recall the Iconic Photos of three dead Americans which lies on a beach at Buna. Implied lines leads us through a scene of hopeless horror, we are compelled to ask ourselves why they are lying there, what is the story behind the photo.


To be continued….

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