“Study in Balance” by Kurt Golgart

Like most people, I enjoy the popular attractions anywhere I go. But sometimes, I fall for the mundane, those things only an individual decides to take notice of.

This shot is taken from a water taxi in Venice, Italy. Venice is a wonderland for any photographer – the ancient, decomposing architecture adorned with peeling paint (I swear, they must buy paint that is designed to peel away quickly to maintain that “old world European feel”), the reflective canals, the brick or cobblestone streets, gondolas, and the unending wonders around every corner.

The decision to take this photograph initially came from the feeling of two very different structures, the chimney, and the tree, moving upwards and taking up space, but each in their own unique way. If you look closely, the tree has flowers or small leaves at its top, the chimney is also adorned at its top. The smoothly textured walls compositionally contrast with the tile roof above and the bricks below. The upper windows, smooth and bright, are open, balanced against the closed, dark, and rough shutters of the lower windows. The featureless sky contains no distractions and allows the eye to stay within the frame created by the structure.

While the majority of elements in the frame contain straight or intersecting lines, the weight of the tree brings compositional balance to these manmade structures in its own chaotic way. The framing is square and achieves a sort of equal weight (i.e., balance) from the left and right of the frame perspective. The eye is drawn equally to the chimney and the tree; once each of these is experienced, the shot delivers many other elements to explore. To include color would have served no purpose, thus black and white was the obvious choice. Plenty of local contrast provides structure and tonal depth, with the tonal distribution well-balanced with no particular area overshadowing any other. This helps to give the entire shot an old-world feel.

What are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The first impactful feature is the similarities yet contrasts of the two main elements – the chimney and the tree. The next impactful element is the informal symmetry of the entire frame. Split into two photographs with a vertical line placed between the chimney and tree produces two images that can stand on their own.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

My tastes have changed over the years, and it’s likely that I would make this shot brighter by ensuring the whites stood out more.

Kurt Golgart shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Kurt Golgart, Reno, Nevada, USA


Equipment and settings

Nikon D300S, Nikon 18-200mm
60mm, f/11, 1/60 sec., ISO 100

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Comments (1):

  1. Manfred Laner

    February 1, 2024 at 13:36

    Good comp. I like the use of B/W also. Thanks


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