Shapes and Contours


Look for Shapes

Go beyond what the subject or object appears to be. Instead of seeing the scene simply as flowers in a garden or a woman walking on a bridge, you can try and visualise the same scene in various shapes. The garden can be a spacious rectangule with smaller circular and oval shapes.

Our mind has a preconceived way of seeing and identifying an object. Therefore, viewing a scene entirely in shapes needs a lot practice. Try visualising human figures, faces and sceneries around you as squares, circles, triangles and so on.

The shapes of the landscape are made evident through different colours and the aerial vantage point. Photograph/Anand Murali

Move in Closer or Try a Different Perspective

The best way to draw the attention of the viewer to a particular shape or a pattern is to zoom in completely and fill the frame with it. Moreover, an extreme close-up or a macro image of a shape will appear to be more abstract. Besides this, you can create shapes simply by changing your vantage point. Courtyards can become squares and ponds can become circular shapes.

Clever framing has enabled the triangle to be more prominent in the picture. Photograph/Ankit Gulati

Find One Dominant Shape

If there are multiple shapes in your frame, then choose the shape that will be the main subject of your picture. Will it be the large square yellow wall of the building? Or the rectangular green bench in front of it? Having one dominant shape allows you to lead the viewer through the frame. It is always better to compare the size and weight of different shapes in the overall composition to decide which object will be the dominant figure.

Having said that, you can include multiple shapes in your frame and try playing with the resulting patterns.

Combine Contrasting

Colours Shapes are an important visual element that can help convey structure and order. For instance, circles, squares, triangles, diamonds are easily recognisable as structured, geometric elements. Curves or free fl owing shapes like the ones in clouds tend to appear pleasing and comforting. Ovals and skewed shapes can add a sense of motion or movement, or even help you create interesting abstracts.

This article originally appeared in the January 2o14 issue of Better Photograpy.