Architectural Balance in Photography

My intentions were to use images from other photographers for today’s post. I figured it would be easier to locate and  exhibit good examples of balance, but then I got too lazy to search for those photos and to copy the website or Facebook address’s of the photographers, so here we I am exhibiting my own images again.

When most architecture is built (and designed), there are various forms of symmetry or balance built into the object that will be built. Partially because the designers, builders and future inhabitants will want it to stand, and to stay standing. 

The other primary purposes are for the building (or any manmade object)  to be visually pleasing, and to be comfortable to inhabit or use.

Function and visual merit are two of life’s most common aspirations.  Photography is partially about visual merit, but man‘s desire for functionality can at times be in photos as well.

While I find some of the steel and glass buildings of the 1960s and 1970s interesting enough in their “shiny-ness” and oblique angles, my favorite buildings are old, an historic. They seem to me to have more heart and soul if you will.

Balance, does not always need to be synonymous with symmetry.  Sometimes objects and photos which are even on all sides, and have everything at the same distances, can be boring. Balance can mean a lot of uneven sides that “balance out” when they are in the context of the entire object or photo. Such as two small sides that balance out with one long side.

The first two images of historic lighthouses that you see below, are of the same building.

Framing, is a compositional technique as old as painting or carving on the walls of caves. Silhouetting came into its own with photography.

Balance is as important in the photo as it is in the actual lighthouse. Notice the craggy but perfect opening for the lighthouse tower. The fact that those trees are silhouettes, absent of detail keep the focus on the lighthouse tower. Also notice the color of light on the tower which was created courtesy of the setting sun.

This is a late morning image but I called upon the still rising sun to create a lack of front light because of the backlight. A silhouette.

Both images are somewhat representational in so far as there is not a lot of the building to see. Representationalism can still be obvious and balanced without of of of the subject showing.  Notice, I attempted to interpret those lines and colors in an interesting, but balanced fashion.

This Door County, Wisconsin light house ceased to be such to me. It was no longer a lighthouse when I peered through my camera lens. It was a series of angles and colors. Once again, low light (late this time) provided some drama and some very vivid color contrasts.

While I doubt the creator of the LH intended for some photographer to come along and do this to their architecture, I imagine they might appreciate my interpretation of it none the less.

This building is the office for a private nature sanctuary.  It was originally a horse barn. The dramatic shadow filled light, does not detract from the architectural theme of the building, and it adds mood.  That of course, is my opinion.

The old Mormon barn you see below, is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Those are Wyoming’s Grand Tetons in the background. I shot this scene much like thousands have before me. That is not generally my aim, but it is hard to fix perfection.

The design of the barn, somewhat mimics God’s design of the Teton Mountains behind it.

This 19th Century Wisconsin farmhouse is quite typical and what you might expect to find at an historic site. I tried to show an honest but attractive depiction of the farmstead. It is sort of a “neat” image. By that I mean, everything in place and ordered. That’s what I saw when I looked at the house, so I attempted to carry on that theme of tidiness and balance.

Interiors of old buildings (another old farmhouse) are as important as exteriors. They were simple buildings in simpler times, and this image reflects that.

This is 100% natural light and the camera was handheld with old Kodachrome 64 transparency film. I was steadier back then.

Below you will find two very different renditions of the same location. It is the 1700s built, San Xavier Mission in Arizona.

This first photo is more piecework. I love visually dissecting architecture.  My intentions were to maintain a sense of balance, while not making everything symmetrical.

Photographing buildings does not mean you have to show the entire building. It also doesn’t mean you need to make a close-up portrait, so to speak.

San Xavier at sunrise.

Ships, especially the masts of rare old sailing ships, make great silhouettes.

As walked up in the darkness to the river where the boats were being displayed, I knew immediately what my first picture would be.

The one true architect.

God is the architect of nature and nothing has made me happier than creating images of what I find.

Both the landform, and the gorgeous light were put in front of me, courtesy of God.  Natural formations may not contain the perfectly level and straight lines that man uses in his buildings, but there is a “natural order” to them. It is well, indescribable.

Made of mostly sandstone, and sculpted by wind and rain which are provided
by God. He was the first and best architect.

A scene like this needs to be “ordered” by any photographer. It might be seem a mishmash when first viewed, but once again, the wind and rain know the business of balance. This will not be falling over anytime soon.

God can create with color, texture, and form.  Below are some of planet earth’s most architecturally beautiful formations. They may seem broken at first, until you view them in the contest of their environment, and in relationship to each other. Photographers just need to “see” it, and capture it in an image.

Balance and structural integrity, whether it comes naturally from God, or is designed and built into an object by man, demonstrates both intelligence and artistry.

Happy Trails,

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1 Response to Architectural Balance in Photography

  1. Geri Lawhon says:

    Your photos are so very well done. Great post.

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