Archive for May, 2018

In some ways photography is one of the hardest forms of art in which to display principles of design. While many artists are able to maniuplate their meterials in multiple ways, photographers don’t always have the same control over their subjects or canvases.

bokeh outdoor tap by Dave Meier Depth of Field

This first photograph is called Bokeh Outdoor Tap and it, along with all the photographs in this post, was taken by Dave Meier. This photograph is a perfect example of depth of field, as the subject of this picture is in focus, while the background is not. The sharpness of the subject, the water, gives it a sense of purity and life against the mundane life that goes on around it. Everyone loves nice, clear water.

bokeh outdoor tap by Dave Meier Depth of Field edit

In order to apply this principal in my own photography, I like to turn to macro-photography.


I took this shot using the first little toy I saw after I grabbed my camera. I used the florescent lighting setting on my camera so that my horribly dirty carpet wouldn’t look so yellow. I also had to mess around with the ISO settings to find one that didn’t wash out my “subject”. I like how there’s a kind of swath of carpet that’s in focus.


The next principle of design we’re going to look at today is the rule of thirds. This is probably one of the best known principles of design that is used in photography.

clear-night-sky by Dave Meier Rule of Thirds

This photo is called Clear Night Sky of course by Dave Meier. This photo drew me in because I was once obsessed with photographing the sky and horizons.

clear-night-sky by Dave Meier Rule of Thirds edit

The wonderful thing about this photo is that there are two different elements on two different thirds of the photo. The bottom third contains a silhouette, tree-line that frames the sky on one side. The right third of the photo contains the trail of an airplane. The diagonal line also adds some movement to the photo.


This variation on the rule of thirds principle is my cat Luna. Here she is, sitting atop her cat tree, looking down on the world.


Putting Luna at the top right of the frame not only lets her look out over the rest of the photo, it makes her seem like she towers over everything.

Cyclist Mountains by Dave Meier Leading Lines


This last photograph by Dave Meier is called Cyclist Mountains. I chose this photo to display the concept of leading lines. This is the most difficult principle to capture out of the three. Most of the time, it requires a discerning eye, but sometimes it requires luck, expert staging, and excellent timing. While I don’t think that the cyclist in this photo was actually in motion at the time, getting the angle for this photo just right couldn’t have been easy or for that matter, comfortable.

Cyclist Mountains by Dave Meier Leading Lines edit

The soft decline of the mountain lines intersects with the subject and draws the eye to him while framing the beautiful sky in the background.


My own pathetic attempt is in no way masterfully accomplished, but the principle is shown. Because it was dark outside, I couldn’t really venture forth to find some naturally occurring lines, so I had to improvise. I used the pencils as my lines and placed them asymmetrically in order t make them seem at least slightly less staged.


As you can see, the subject (in this case, Frodo Baggins) sits at the top of this almost pyramid of pencils, elevating his importance.

In the end, having a beautiful subject can create a beautiful photo, but for the less than perfect subject, using these principles of design can take your photographs from ordinary to memorable. It’s important to take time to think about what you’re trying to say about the subject of your photo before you take it because you might be able to say it better with one of these design principles.

The Filet-O-Fish


On the one hand, the ability of a food to be turned into a sandwich could be seen as an advantage, but in the words of my father, “A sandwich is what you eat when you can’t find anything else for lunch.” Whether or not you like sandwiches, you have to admit that this ad from McDonald’s is breathtaking (


One of the most striking things about this ad is the contrast between the blues and the oranges. The choice of fish in the bowl is one made to provide contrast. The fish that actually resides in the Filet-o-fish is the magnificent Alaska pollock. This fish is pretty much all grey. You put that in a sandwich shaped fishbowl and it’s going to be pretty hard to see what’s going on. Not to mention the most common fish you would see as a pet is a gold-fish.


The next most interesting next to the fish is the glass sandwich. Though a normal sandwich would have many different textures and colors, creating this sandwich out of glass makes the sandwich a single object rather than an amalgamation of ingredients. The only critique I have is that I would have made the words look like they were glass as well, but without seeing it, I can’t be sure it would work.


The centering of these to elements places them at the focal point of the ad. They’re big and central, which means that the viewers eyes are kept in the center of the piece; they don’t have to search around for the main elements. The odd man out, however, is the McDonald’s logo, which is aligned to the right edge of the picture. This contrast of alignment allows the viewer to know that McDonald’s is related to the photo, but that it’s not the main focus.


The two main elements are quite close together, signifying their relationship to each other, but they’re far enough apart that they’re easily identifiable and don’t look crowded. Putting the logo out of alignment with the other elements distinguishes it as separate, creating further contrast.


While most of the piece is using the same tone, the subtle differences help create a template for the viewer as to where they should look. The background of the piece is a gradient going from dark to light and then back to dark. This nudges the viewer to look to the center of the ad where the main elements are. The colors of the fish and the logo create contrast in the piece.

All of these elements work together to give the ad dimension. The depth of the piece pulls the viewer in and makes them feel a part of the world the ad exists in. The contrast then allows the viewer to feel like what is being advertised is not ordinary. This sandwich isn’t complicated or too diversely portrayed to make the viewer feel overwhelmed, instead intrigued. The piece is elegant and leaves me hungry for more.