Often times what makes a good photograph is the underlying structure of it; the elements, how the elements are placed and in what order. Order, unity, and harmony are the stuff that makes almost everything pleasing. Be it photography, music, dance, or even mathematics. Here I have a few good stills I captured from two Tarkovsky films that serve as great examples for a breakdown.
Here’s the analysis:
Triangles really signifies connection, and unity. Here the elements are sitting on a structure which makes it visually interesting. When three points are displaced in space, it yearns to be connected, the viewer mentally connects them without any conscious effort, and this process brings completeness and meaning to the image, like what we see above. Also note the placement of the horse right at the center. The white horse may resemble something noble or elevated hence it’s placement.
Frames or rectangles that’s close to the ratio 1.6:1 tends to be aesthetic for reasons beyond the scope of this post. Here we have an image that was shot on a 4:3 frame originally, but intelligently composed so that it creates an apparent frame of ratio 1.6:1 inside the 4:3 frame. This was done by capturing the excess roof on top. Below the green line is our superficial frame of ratio 1.6:1. This technique makes the frame spacious, and makes it possible to arrange elements on-screen in a way that was not possible before.
Secondly, the triangle that’s yearning to be connected between contrasting points. The burning house in the far end can be geometrically simplified as a rectangle, and the two people as points in space. At this level of simplicity, the points can be connected to the corners of the rectangle to create a triangle; hence unity. Creating imaginary geometric shapes that lies between the negative spaces of elements is really powerful to bring structure and meaning to images.
Introduce another contrasting element (the child) and the previous unity is broken, but by creating a new one. The placement of elements in this picture is really artful. It’s from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (Zerkalo), be sure to check it out.
Here’s another way to see the underlying structure. As planes extended in space in a zig-zag pattern.
The elements are arranged in such a way that it forms a right angled triangle, and further more it’s placed right on the two thirds line of the image. The green dashed line marks the 2nd third line or two thirds of the image. The feet of the actress aligns with the lower third’s point on the two third’s line.
Here’s a beautiful shot from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror. I’d like to say that there’s a harmony created by the placement of the images in diagonals that run almost parallel to one another. The open book’s edges creates the horizontal and vertical components of the diagonal, you may call this over-analysis, but still it adds a lot to the image.