Formal elements

  • Created by: Cat91
  • Created on: 26-02-20 10:09


The picture has different values within the shot. The lighter areas have a positive value whereas the darker areas have a more negative value. These values can be used to make the viewer form an opinion on the focus of the picture. If you put the focus in a dark light and give it a negative value, you are likely to give the viewer a negative impression of the focus. This can be used to give the viewer an impression of something, even if it’s not something they’ve ever seen before or know anything about. On the other hand, if the focus is in light and has a positive value then it can encourage the viewer to have a positive impression of the focus and they could begin to associate the focus with positivity. This can be used in a good way or a bad way to get people to pre-judge something based on a picture.

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A lot of photographers have light as a back thought. Most of them don’t worry about light as much, but those that do are often complimented on their use of light. Light can be used to bring the focus to the attention of the viewer. All photos have an element of light to them, the trick is exploiting the light to get the most desirable results. The lighting in a picture may be natural light from the sun or the moon, or it can be artificial. There are different ways for lighting to be artificial, the first one if through man made lights. Overhead lights in rooms, stage lights for performances, street lights and torches are all examples of man-made lights that can affect someone’s pictures.

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The shapes within a photograph can be used to signify different themes and ideas. Shapes can be used to create a pattern or to build the focus. Abstract art often uses shapes to define their work. Photography can work in a similar way. The focus could be made up of seemingly random objects that create interesting shapes, it could also be used in black and white pictures to have interesting silhouettes and shadows. Shapes can also be in the background for patterns that make the photograph more aesthetically pleasing. The focus itself is a shape, and the shape it takes should be used as a focus point for the rest of the image.

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When looking at a picture you can often imagine how the object being photographed would feel if you could reach inside of the picture and touch it. Photographers often use this to make the viewer feel more immersed with their picture. It can also give the viewer a better understanding of the picture taken. Sometimes, the artist may want to make the viewer have to think about the picture, and the texture is a way for them to convey that. The artists in this case often want to make the viewer feel a certain way about something, so they make them think, how would this feel if I could touch it? Which then leads to; how should I feel about this message? However, texture can also be used to show the viewer a glimpse of something unknown to them and allows them to familiarise themselves with something they wouldn’t usually see, usually through the ground as that can be applied to almost any place.

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In any given picture there is colour, even if the colours are black and white. In a lot of photos, the colour wheel is used to create a nice range of aesthetically pleasing colours. However, some photos are more chaotic and include random and often bright colours to cause a sense of confusion. Despite the real world’s lack of colour coordination most people expect to see colour coordination in pictures so having loads of colours that clash with each other makes the overall photo look crazy. If you choose to make a picture black and white or grayscale, it makes the photo seem more serious and professional which is likely due to the old-fashioned feel given to these photos as we now have the option to take colour photos and the world has gotten less serious with photography following along. This means that any modern photo taken in black and white presents itself as a serious event, just as any photo taken before colour was developed (or at least the ones taught about) would have been. You can also combine the two to emphasise the focus of a picture. For example, you could take a picture of a person standing and wearing a scarf. You could take this photo into photoshop and make everything black and white except for the scarf, this technique would make the viewer focus on the scarf before anything else. 

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In a picture lines can be used to create a sense of direction and focus. They can ‘lead’ the viewer to the main focus of a photograph and direct them to exactly where you want them to look. The most common example of lines is by roads as they form lines and literally take you to your destination. When put into the context of a picture, they can be used to figuratively take the viewer to the destination, the focus, of the photograph so they can see the point the artist is trying to make. The lines in the picture don’t always have to be straight either, they can curve or zigzag and still have a similar effect. With zigzags, however, they are commonly used in the background of a picture to create an aesthetically pleasing image, though this is not always the case. In some cases, the lines are used as a way of making a pattern that distract from the focus, or in the case of abstract art are the focus, to give the viewer something else to look at as a way of capturing attention.

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The focus of a picture is the main point that the artist wants you to look at. It’s often in the centre of the photograph and there isn’t usually much else in the background. There are some pictures that make the whole picture the focus and these are often made to show chaos in some way, usually the chaos of life in this world. They can be very effective at getting a message across however they are often more difficult to look at as the viewer doesn’t have an exact thing to see and as a human they will look for something that draws their attention and is clear and obvious. Another reason an artist might choose not to have a focus is because they are capturing something as a whole instead of one thing. This is most common in pictures of woodland however it can be effective in other places.

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