Composition Principles: Hierarchy and Gradation

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Gradation is a  gradual change, an increase or decrease in the strength of  visual elements such as value (brightness or darkness), color, saturation, clarity, texture or sharpness. Gradation can add a feeling of depth to an image and direct the eye to the subject.

Intimate landscape...mushrooms on the trail up to the Cavell meadows, Mt. Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park.

Gradation by sharpness. Cavell meadows, Jasper National Park.

 

Sunrise behind lone pine, Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Gradation by colour in the sky. Sunrise behind lone pine, Cypress Hills Provincial Park

 

Gradation by clarity. Dawn in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.

Gradation by clarity. Dawn in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.

The hills in the foreground are relatively clear. but the clarity for the hills that are further back gradually decreases as the distance increases, due to the misty conditions at the time.

ortrait of Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach, Three Deuces, New York,

Gradation by brightness and size. Portrait of Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1947. Photographer William P Gottlieb, William. Library of Congress.

A gradation of changes can create a hierarchy, with a dominant element drawing the eye and appearing most important, with other elements attracting to a lesser and descending amount.

thenny feliciano Follow modern family 3

Hierarchy by focus. Modern Family 3 by Thenny Feliciano, Indonesia 2014 (Public Domain, Flickr)

Hierarchy creates a scanning pattern., with the eyes following the dominant feature, to the secondary and then further elements. Gradation can add a feeling of depth to an image and sometimes help direct the eye to the main subject.

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This entry was posted in Abstract, Alberta, Black and white, Canada, Composition, History, Inspiration, Intimate landscape, Landscape, National Park, Nature, Photographic Composition Online Course, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , .

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