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The Art Of Image Design ~ I

I’ve Got Rhythm

Photography, as with most things creative, is a multiplicity of infinities. Every pixel can have one of 16 million colors, and for modest 24" x 30" print at 300 pixels per inch we get about 3 trillion possibilities, so there must be a selection process. Fortunately nature provides a process based on the laws of physics. But we still have a job to do.

An artist has his or her own goals for whatever reasons. I look for whatever gives me butterflys, a sort of tinkling in my tummy. Why it happens I cannot say, but often it keeps recurring in the same place so over the years I settled a bit on half a dozen locations, plus the surprises in between. It seems that they usually had swashes of detail with which I made a composition.

One of my favorites was Upper Hadlock Pond in Maine. The part of the pond I like to photograph has a relatively small number of elements: reeds of various colors and color patterns, water, sky reflected in the water, wind, a smattering of water lilies and that is about it. So I have begun the process of whittling down the possibilities just by restricting myself to this patch of reeds, but despite the whittling there are still infinite possibilities.

I choose this as an example because, although it is in a very famous national park, it is a very ordinary pond by the side of an ordinary road. There is nothing to draw you there and I found it as I was driving toward the ocean. A great description is Upper Hadlock Pond.


I love the image below, and it almost didn’t make it into the collection. It was just a year or so ago, 27 years after it was taken, during a review of images from Acadia that I noticed it and I couldn't begin to guess how I overlooked it. A bit subtle and complicated perhaps? It was taken between 1987.

Now imagine a horizontal line that starts at the top and moves down in small increments. Let’s try.

This line of stripes is two 1 pixel selections a few pixels apart takin from the left side of the picture. You can see the rhythms and the differences between top and bottom. The larger areas repeat but the smaller ones are showing changes.

What strikes me is the rhythms of the reeds and the waves. But how to decide if it is a good image? That’s easy. So many groups of dancers doing the same dance, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. It makes me laugh. It could also be a musical composition that combines styles from the baroque and impressionism. That is interesting, but you must pay attention and know a little about music.


It does have rhythm, or rather a bunch of them with the water carrying one bunch and the reeds another. The lily pads are some other instruments, perhps tympani, beating out their own message when it is time. The image of black and white keys was made from two rows of pixels a small distance apart. You can see some of the rhythms and the changes as you move lower.

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