Visual Weight – Exploring With A Camera

Once again, Kat Sloma has invited us to Explore a topic with our cameras, and this time is all about visual weight in images.  I like to think of this as “what-is-it-about-that-photo-that-gets-my-attention?”  She has another excellent article here that explains the topic, encouraging us to look at our archived images, challenging us to keep visual weight in mind as we take more images.  

From my archives I have found a few to share with you, some you have seen before, but I’m looking at them in a new light and invite you to do the same.

In photos with dull subdued colors as well as bright colors, the brighter colors carry more visual weight. In early spring there are still a lot of dull browns in the landscape, even though evidence of new growth is showing up everywhere.  This photo of yellow flowers against a drab background illustrates the visual weight of brighter colors.

Items that are brightly illuminated carry more visual weight in a photo than things that are in the shadows.  All the elements in this photo work together to tell the story of a place to play checkers in the corner of an old gas station.  The part that draws us in is that brightly lit checkerboard and the window filled with light.  

The objects around the edge of an image draw more attention than what is in the center, which is one of the reasons why it’s good to place your subject off center.  When I look at this one I keep noticing the trees in the top edge of the image, as well as the team of horses plowing the ground.  There is also that expanse of plowed dirt, but the visual weight is in the team of horses.

We notice a break in a pattern more than we notice the pattern itself.  The opened mail box draws us in, making us wonder why it was left open when all the others appear to be closed.  

Then there are human faces.  They carry more visual weight than inanimate objects.  I’m sure you notice the cute little grin, the sparkle in those eyes… more than you notice the blueberry yogurt in the hair, on the hands and essentially everywhere else.  You don’t really “see” the high chair or the background because how can you resist that cute little face????   

Oh, but I digress.  Sometimes looking through archives can be very distracting.

Be sure to visit Kat’s blog and read more about visual weight.  As always, her posts are informative and worth your time.  

7 Replies to “Visual Weight – Exploring With A Camera”

  1. I never get over to Kat's blog as much as I should. Thanks for the reminder. Your work is awesome as always. Hope you had a lovely mother's day.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, you have clearly explained elements which draw our attention in a photo, beautifully illustrated with your photos. Wonderful use of black and white too.

  3. You nailed it, Deborah!! Great images of visual weight! I love the gas station shot. I wonder how many stories were told around the game board!! The last one…adorable!!

  4. Deb – what fantastic examples! That mailbox shot has always been one of my favorites. You BW treatment really shows off the visual weight idea – without the distraction of color, we can really see the patterns and lines that draw our attention. And yes, who can resist that face?

  5. You did find some great examples for this exploration. The farm image coild have been taken 100 years ago! What a great shot of your grandson –adorable!

  6. Fantastic images Deb! These are great examples of the points we're discussing with Visual Weight. I agree with Brenda, using black and white is an excellent way to show how Visual Weight works without the distraction of color, which is so powerful. Thank you so much for joining in with Exploring with a Camera!

  7. Love your images, so beautiful. And great examples of visual weight. Love the splash of yellow in the first shot – really says spring! Especially love your pattern shot and illuminated shot too. And that is one cute little grandson….:)

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