Sun-stars for balance

August 13, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I was having a hard time creating a composition on the beach which was balanced. It seems no matter how I composed the scene, the one side was always heavier than the other. Object have visual weight. If all the objects are on one side of the image that side will weigh more and the image will not be balanced. There are a few things we can do to create balance:

  • Place another object closer to you on the opposite side of the other objects. Such objects do not have to be the same size as the other objects on the other side of the image to create balance. Objects closer to you visually weigh more than more distant objects. So even a small object close to you can bring balance to larger object on the opposite side of your image.

  • You can use a person, such as a jogger to bring balance. Yes, a bird in the right position can do it too. You can use just about anything to bring about the balance you seek. Fellow photographers are often willing to be used in your images in this way to bring about balance.

  • If you don't have access to anyone or anything to place on the empty side of you image and the bird do not obey your commands, you can always use light to try to create balance.

  • You can always create sun-stars as your bright section of the image to bring about some balance.

The dark rocks on the left of the image are visually very heavy. Since no joggers came along and no bird cooperated with me, I attempted to draw attention to the opposite side of the image by placing a sun-star there. Here is another example of the same scene.

So how do you create a sun-star? You simply position yourself so that the sun is halfway behind a hard surface like a horizon, a tree, a person, or like in this case, the rock. Then you use a small aperture, and voila, you have a sun-star. Most people wait for the sun to reach the horizon before they take their shot. They think that they need the horizon to make the sun-star. But the problem with that is that you only have a few moments as the sun dips below the horizon and the opportunity is gone. Why take that change? What if a group of people walking into your shot just as the sun reaches the horizon? So remember, that any sharp surface will work to create sun-stars. Vertical surfaces works the same.

          In this scene, you can use the entire height of that rock to create your sun-star with. Thus you have ten or so minutes available to you, as the sun makes it way down the rock, rather than just a few fleeting moments once the sun hits the horizon.

          So remember to thing about the balance of the objects in your image. Create balance by positioning objects to cancel each other's weight out or if that does not work, use something that is brighter.


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