Part of what can make an image both visually appealing and conceptually interesting is the connection between its different parts. An image is a whole made of differentiable elements, and these elements can either be separate or have a variety of relations between them. To make an image which is indeed a whole and not just different layers on top of each other, a photographer needs to make the layers (or elements) communicate with each other. But how? One way, which I will detail here, is parallelism.
|A softly-lit iceberg resembles the contour of Mount Uummannaq, Greenland. An example of simple, low-level parallelism.|
When pre-visualizing an image, especially its composition, one needs to take into account the possible similarities, or parallelisms, that the environment offers. For example, it’s very often that there is a lack of connection between the sky and the earth in a landscape shot. But a bold red-colored flower on the ground can parallel a setting sun in the sky, thus strengthening the connection between them and bonding heaven and earth in the image, which has clear philosophical and visual implications.
But it’s not only color – shapes, lines and textures can also parallel each other – light rays in the clouds with lines in the sand, lenticular clouds with rounded pools, the options are endless. The important thing to keep in mind is to make these parallelisms stand out, making the viewer realize our intention in including them in the image.
Parallelism can serve its goals even better if it is of a higher level: more than two parts of the image being parallel to each other in the same way or in different ways, or the same part being parallel in more than one way.
See for example the second image shown here. There are two parallelisms: firstly there’s the one made by the architects who chose to make the famous lighthouse of Kalfshamarsvik, Iceland resemble the basalt columns in the area it was built on. Secondly, the yellow patch in the midst of the dark: on the ground – the yellow vegetation. On top – the light coming out of the lighthouse. Both share color and both stand out of their dark, gloomy, lava-column-shaped surroundings. The choice of dark exposure made these elements stand out even more, strengthening the bond between them and the image’s integrity.
|'Light in the Dark', Kalfshamarsvik, Iceland|
Another good example can be seen in the third image. The parallelism between the shadow cast by the center tree and the flare caused by the sun bonds the ground and the sky, which are in turn both bonded to the main subject – the tree – in different ways: the flare touches and intersects the tree, while the shadow is caused by the tree. The three layers of the image are thus intimately connected, and the image is more interesting and appealing because of this connection.
|'The Valley of the Shadow of Death', Deadvlei, Namibia|
Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez's work on Instagram, Facebook and 500px, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates.
If you'd like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your guide, you're welcome to take a look at his unique photography workshops around the world:
Land of Ice - Southern Iceland
Winter Paradise - Northern Iceland
Northern Spirits - The Lofoten Islands
Giants of the Andes and Fitz Roy Hiking Annex - Patagonia
Tales of Arctic Nights - Greenland
Earth, Wind and Fire - Ethiopia
Selected articles by Erez Marom:
- Behind the Shot: Dark Matter
- Mountain Magic: Shooting in the Lofoten Islands
- Behind the Shot: Nautilus
- Behind the Shot: Lost in Space
- Behind the Shot: Spot the Shark
- Quick Look: The Art of the Unforeground
- Behind the Shot: Watery Grave
- Whatever it Doesn't Take
- Winds of Change: Shooting changing landscapes
- On the Importance of Naming Images
- Hell on Earth: Shooting in the Danakil Depression
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