Module 7: Principles of Composition

0 Posted by - June 15, 2014 - Courses, Photography Appreciation
Lee Friedlander, Father Duffy. Times Square, New York City, 1974

Lee Friedlander, Father Duffy. Times Square, New York City, 1974

In Module 6 I described the elements of art and design as the vocabulary of a visual image. To continue that grammatical analogy, composition is the sentence structure. Composition is the organization and ordering of all the possible graphic elements in the frame. When you create a composition, you are choosing an arrangement that elicits a response derived from human perception.

The foundation of composition is balance. Balance is the relationship of visual weight in the frame. The most important physical and psychological condition in human perception is a sense of balance. In order to stay upright humans are continuously adjusting their physical position to remain balanced. As such visual equilibrium is our strongest visual reference. We experience this whenever we look at an image that is not balanced; we will immediately cant our head in oder to achieve equilibrium in relation to the image. The type of balance the photographer chooses determines the feeling that will be perceived by the viewer.

The different visual weight of objects in the frame creates an inherent visual tension. Through composition the photographer resolves that tension in a way that furthers his/her creative intent. Two key concepts for resolving visual tension are leveling and sharpening. Leveling is moving a composition toward harmony and away from tension. Sharpening is turning the image toward greater tension. The two photographs above are both cityscapes but they resolve the visual tensions in the city in different ways. Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn Bridge at top is a more level composition that decreases the visual tension, while Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy is a sharpened composition that emphasizes the visual tension.

Question: What are the different feelings and ideas created by Kenna’s and Friedlander’s choice of leveling and sharpening? Please compare the two photographs in the comments below.

In short, the take-way thought for this module is that good composition and design leads the viewer to perceive the intent of the creator. Examine how that works as you explore the content materials.

Module Content

The readings outline types of balance and different forms of compositional structure.

The Photographer’s Vision, pp. 156 – 180

“Design Basics” (PDF)

Featured Photographer: Josef Sudek

Josef Sudek, Morning Tram, 1924

Josef Sudek, Morning Tram, 1924

A former bookbinder who lost his right arm in The First World War, Josef Sudek is known as the “Poet of Prague” for how he transformed ordinary objects into lyric contemplations. Read an introduction and links about the photographer and his work here. As you view his work think about how he uses the aspects of photography we have studied to produce poetic images.


Read the Featured Photographer links and research photographs by Josef Sudek. Then find and add your favorite photograph by the photographer to the featured photographer collection, and write a photographic analysis of the photograph. Begin by stating the subject you see in the photograph, followed by an explanation of how the photographer captured the subject matter in a way that conveys that subject using principles of composition. Use terms and concepts from the course in your analysis. Full Directions

Discussion Topic

Using the gallery links provided below, select a photographer/photograph that uses principles of composition in a creative and effective way. Identify two principles of design from the module readings in the photograph, explain how they are used, and describe how they affect what the photograph expresses or communicates.

Randall Scott Projects, Washington, D.C. 
Jen Bekman Gallery, New York 
Robert Klein Gallery, Boston 
Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, Dallas
Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco 

Full Directions

Top Image: Michael Kenna, Brooklyn Bridge, Study 2, New York, New York, USA, 2006
  • Kinsey Mace

    When looking at the two photographs above, you can immediately see the difference in the visual weight. In Michael Kenna’s photo Brooklyn Bridge, the intense leveling of the shadow of the bride right in the center of the photo makes it seem like a mirrored image on either side. It almost makes it peaceful that there is a center of the photo, where the two sides meet. On the other hand, Lee Friedlander’s photo Father Duffy is a sharper, and full of tension between the subject matters in the photo. It is almost like they are all fighting for the attention, and want to be seen. They are competing to be the main focus of the picture, which causes strain and tension on this photo. The images don’t seem to be working together to make the picture whole.

  • MacKenzie Kush

    In Michael Kenna’s photo Brooklyn Bridge, I definitely get a feeling of harmony and less tension, because there is less going on. The bridge takes up less space in the photograph compared to everything in the Father Duffy photograph, and there is also a lot of free/open space. While in Lee Friedlander’s photo, there is a lot going on so I feel more tension.

  • Ashlin Hake

    The photo Brooklyn Bridge uses more leveling to create harmony, there is not a lot going on and it is very spaced out. Due to the method used it creates a sort of calming feeling because it is not a busy photograph with a lot going on. The Father Duffy photograph uses sharpening to create more tension. There is a lot going on in the picture and it is not very spaced out so it creates a more active feeling, sort of the opposite effect and feeling of the Brooklyn Bridge photo.

  • Amy Sailer

    In Michael Kenna’s photo, Brooklyn Bridge, he uses more leveling than sharpening to create more of a harmony feeling. He achieves the harmony feeling by how calm the water is and the straight line of underneath the bridge. I think getting a picture with the top of a bridge could have caused the picture to have more of a sharpening feeling because there would most likely be a lot of cars going by, which would give more of a sharpening feeling. In Lee Friedlander’s photo, Father Duffy it expresses more of a sharpening feeling because there is so much to look at and your eyes don’t stop wandering.

  • Danielle Evert

    Photographers can change a viewers perception of a photograph because of the displayed balance. In Brooklyn Bridge by Michael Kenna, the artist uses a leveling balance, which creates a softer feel. This leveling technique creates almost a fog effect, which can create a mysterious or calm perception. Lee Friedlander used the opposite technique in his photograph, Father Duffy. Friedlander used a sharpening balance, which increases tension throughout the photo. Sharpening enhances the details in a photograph and creates a more distinct line between colors or shadows. Because Brooklyn Bridge used the leveling effect, the different shades of black and white are blurred and not distinct. Father Duffy is much sharper, which eliminates any blurriness between the different shades.

  • Joe Rys

    I think that the leveling of the first image is great because the light provides a certain softness to the image. The dark thick line of the bridge also leads the eye into the the leveled off part of the image. The second image is very sharp because there is so much happening in the picture. The statue is surrounded by so many things in the background that it makes it very difficult to focus on the statue that is the object of the image. The image of Father Duffy is very sharp because it has very little to no balance in it at all, it is just a statue surrounded by advertisements.

  • Tasha Toombs

    I think that for me personally, the top picture (Brooklyn Bridge, by Michael Kenna) makes me feel happy. I love the big city and this photograph really captures the beauty of the skyline. I also feel calm while looking at it because the amount of leveling used creates that harmony and peace. The photograph is very still and the line of the bridge does a good job of leading your eye where to go.

    In Lee Friedlander’s photograph, there are so many different things that the sharpening causes tension and confuses the viewer of where they should be looking. I do believe that Friedlander did this on purpose though. Since the photograph is of Times Square, Friedlander was probably trying to create the fast pace, busy-ness of the location in his still photograph.

  • Heather Torkelson

    In ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ by Michael Kenna, there is a soft appeal due to a leveled balance in the photo. Photographers will use balance to alter perceptions and views of their photo. This photo’s balance makes me feel calm and serene, and perhaps even still like the water. There is a blur to the image which makes it very easy on my eyes. However, I feel the opposite towards the photograph ‘Father Duffy’ by Lee Friedlander. Friedlander used different technique with his image. It is sharp, in focus, and makes me feel crazy. The sharpness creates a heavy distinction in lights and darks, and space between objects. The balance doesn’t feel quite so level. It makes me feel very cluttered.

  • Lincoln Kirchoff

    Between these two photographs, I believe that the amount of sharpening has a profound effect on the feelings produced with the viewer from each respective photo. The first photograph, by Friedlander, is very sharp and in focus, which leads to a very busy and almost confusing. Because there is so much in focus, there are many parts of the photograph that could be interpreted as the “center”. The second photo, by Sudek, has a very different composure as far as leveling is concerned. Because this photo is almost “softened” by the focus, it makes for a much simpler and much more mysterious photograph.

  • Ryan Emanuelson

    When I look at the two different photos I get a more relaxed feeling with Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn Bridge and the level composition that is in the photograph. I think it makes things look a lot more smooth. The bridge brings you right to the skyline of Brooklyn which is what attracts me because that looks like it would be fun to be there. Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy photograph seems to be much more chaotic which would make sense because of the sharpening that goes on in the photo. It creates visual tension in the photo. I personally like the top photo a little bit better because of the relaxed feeling that you get in the photo.

  • Shannon Grossman

    Times Square, New York City, is much more “sharpened” and has greater tension. The top photograph is much more “leveled” and calm. The Times Square photo is very busy and makes the viewer anxious.

  • Bailey

    In the time square picture there is more sharpening, there
    is a lot going on in the background and I believe that the Friedlander’s intent
    was to make the person viewing this feel uncomfortable as they have to look at
    a monument of some kind and in the background all that you can see are advertisements.
    The picture Morning Tram involves leveling and seems to portray a much less hectic
    environment and has a more relaxed feel when you view it.

  • Jessica Dorman

    Well sharpening is moving a picture away from harmony and
    towards tension and Friedlanders photo is filled with tension. Lee Friedlander,
    Father Duffy. Times Square, New York City, 1974 makes me feel uneasy and not
    quite at rest. New York is not known for its R&R so just the though of the
    traffic and high stress situations make me feel a little nervous. Whereas Leveling
    is moving a picture away from tension and towards harmony so Kenna’s choice of focusing
    on the bridge made me feel at ease even though it was still in New York! Michael
    Kenna, Brooklyn Bridge, Study 2, New York, New York, USA, 2006 it is so much
    calmer and I feel like I am just sitting there in the moonlight listening to
    the sounds of crickets! It is so interesting that the two are in the same city
    yet both give off completely different feels!

  • Megan Rudie

    The leveling in the first photograph soothes me. It makes the city look so calm at night an almost inviting. While in the second photograph it makes me uneasy due to the sharpening. It is the opposite of the first picture. It’s uninviting. There is just too much going on in that photograph.

  • Brian Osowski

    Kenna’s picture is a good example of leveling. The photograph gives a sense of serenity and placidity. I am not a fan of big cities, but this picture gives an almost inviting atmosphere to the city. Friedlander’s picture is good example of sharpening. His picture is chaotic and unnerving to me. It looks like an unwelcoming place that I would gladly avoid.

  • Victoria Langhans

    Friedlander’s picture is a great example of sharpening. It’s very sporadic, there’s so much to look at and nothing to really keep your eye set on. The photograph isn’t very appealing to the eye and in order to get a good sense of the photo, you have to think very hard. In contrast to him, Kenna’s picture is a much better example of the leveling technique. It’s very calming and welcoming. It’s much more of a friendly photograph to examine.

  • Trevor Lucking

    The top photo is very calm and relaxing with the use of leveling. The sharpening in the second photo gives me an uneasy feeling. It’s a very busy photograph and actually stresses me out a bit when I look at it.

  • Jackson Collins

    Krenna’s Brooklyn Bridge shows us a sense of unity and everything is smooth and equal which shows that life can be simple as well as beuatiful. While Friedlander’s Father Duffy is a very hectic picture that shows a statue of a man surrounded by advertisements which have no symmetry. This shows the over saturation of ads in the world which ultimately have no symmetry and no meaning.

  • Jason Straub

    There is an obvious difference in both photos. “brooklyn Bridge” is so smooth. The texture of the water looks calm and so relaxed. I think this pic really shows how there can be a peace and calm setting in a place that is known for being busy and chaotic all the time.
    Times Square is a different situation. It’s very busy. The saturation brings out a lot of the texture in the buildings and design, that makes everything look busy. Kind of stressful just to look at the picture.

  • Patrick Allen Christner

    In both of those photos they both have achieved a sense of balance. The first photo being split into two by the bridge and having two halves of the skyline. In contrast the Duffy photo uses much more sharpening to make the subject matter much more busy but like the first photo it’s balanced with the statue helping to split the photo up into equal halves.

  • Megan Robson

    In the photo “Brooklyn Bridge” by Michael Kenna, he uses a good example of leveling. This is when you move a picture away from tension and toward harmony. Leveling makes the picture seem calmer and leaves me feeling at ease. It is very soothing and beautiful too look at. In Lee Friedlanders photo, “Father Duffy, Times Square, New York City”, he uses sharpening. This is when you move a picture from harmony toward tension. Sharpening makes the picture seem very chaotic.Because it is so sharp it’s hard to just focus on one thing. It’s very busy and leaves me feeling uneasy trying to figure out what to look at.

  • Katie Elberson

    In Michael Kenna’s, “Brooklyn Bridge”, there seems to be a good use of leveling- that being when a photo’s composition is moved towards harmony and away from tension. This image is very smooth and is easy on your eyes. You are able to causally able to glimpse at this photograph and not feel distracted.

    The second photograph, “Father Duffy”, done by Lee Friedlander, is a good example of sharpening. Sharpening in photography is when you turn the image towards greater tension. In this photo everything bold and emphasized. This can make it difficult to focus on one single object in the photograph.

  • Nikita Fetter

    The photo “Brooklyn Bridge”by Michael Kenna, is a good example of leveling. There is a great emphasis on harmony and away from tension. You are able to look at the picture and depict what the photographer felt was important. The photographer also made it a very smooth picture which makes it easy to look at.
    The next photo, “Father Duffy,” done by Lee Friedlander is a good example of sharpening. The image is turned toward a greater tension. It is a stunning photo but not one thing is the main focus, all of it is meant to be seen, creating a tension for the eyes.

  • Isaac Keller

    After looking at both of the photographs I got a much different feeling from both of them. In the first photo “Brooklyn Bridge” by Michael Kenna I immediately noticed the bridge which then drove my eyes to focus on the city in the background. This photo seemed to be calming to me and it did not have a lot of things going on at once. The second photo titled “Father Duffy” by Lee Friedlander was much different. I was immediately draw to many different things at once from the man in the middle of the picture to the coca cola sign to all the different buildings. This photo gave me an anxious feeling because I was trying to view all the different things at once.

  • Rebekah Frederick

    Kenna’s leveled photograph is not only balanced nearly symmetrically, but it provides a calming sense of distance from the activity and chaos of urban areas. The smooth but blurred reflection of the city lights on tranquil water combined with the darkened, uninterrupted underside of the bridge brings forth a harmonious feeling between the image’s elements. The scene is a step back, a breather if you will, of the intensity usually found between those tall buildings and crowded streets in the far background.

    Friedlander on the other hand, with his sharpened, deep-focused work, is jarring and exuberant. The balance of the piece is immediately upset by the tilted framing and asymmetry of the background content, and though the statue for which the photograph is named is centered, it has to fight for dominance with what’s behind it. It reflects the competitive and active nature of city living and the corporate business scene.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    The images above show a great example between leveling and sharpening. We see an image of the same place, which is New York City. Yet both photographers have shown us different emotions of the city. Kenna’s photo is level. The decrease in tension gives the viewer a calmer sense of the city. The nice lighting and the calmness of the water add to this balance. it almost seems like everything is exactly in place. Friedlander’s photo captures the chaos of the city. The quantity of subject matter and how it seems crowded and out of place adds tension to the image. This may better represent the busyness of the city.

  • Jessica Holmberg

    In Kenna’s photograph has a sense of calm and simplicity. The way he levels the bridge at an angle, causes the viewers eye to move along the bridge to the city skyline. It isn’t too sharp of a photo so there is a calm mood about it, even though it is a photo of a city.

    Friedlander’s photo has the direct opposite effect. The photo is extremely sharpened which causes slight tension for the viewer. There is a lot going on in the photo, with no one object set as the main focus. It creates a more chaotic feeling.

  • Tawonda Burks

    After viewing both of the photos above Kenna’s photo gives me a sense of peace and calmness while Friedlander’s photo gives me a sense of urgency in the city. The bridge gives a perfect example of leveling While both pictures are city skylines they both give a different effect visually. Friedlander’s photo stresses the visual and Kenna’s is more level.

  • Nicole Remer

    Both photos are taken in a urban area, but portray two different feelings and ideas. Kenna’s photo is taken underneath a bridge, seemingly away from the the city. It creates a feeling a calmness, because it’s very uncluttered, yet balanced throughout. In Friedlander’s photo of the direct city atmosphere, you get the feeling of the hustle and bustle of the city. The photo arrangement is very cluttered, but is an accurate portrayal of the city and still contains a sense of balance throughout.

  • Wycliff Onyango

    The photographs have different setting making them very unique from each other. The first photograph by Kenna’s taken by the bridge shows sense of tranquility since the water is not wavy. Also since its taken at night when most people are either sleeping or relaxing in the homes gives it a sense of equilibrium. The photograph is leveled and balanced which can be shown by how the bridge is divided in the middle and the sharpening is low.
    The second photography by Friedlander’s is very dense in context and images.The uniqueness of the photograph is that they are all artificial structures. This can create sense of calmness since the structures cannot “move”. There is balance and level in the photograph but the sharpening is great.

  • Samantha Stetzer

    The two photographs show a different way of showing the city life through different photographic methods. Lee Friedlander’s photo is very sharp and creates a much more tense photo. The sharpness of the photo allows the viewer to see even the most minute details of the photo. It creates for a very accurate and detailed photo. Michael Keena’s photo utilizes leveling more, and therefore it is a more abstract photo. It’s images blur together the perfect amount, so that you can still see what the image is, but it is not so harsh. It is much softer and calls out to the more emotional side of the person, while Friedlander’s photo calls to the more analytical and obersvant side of a viewer.

  • Samantha Scholler

    I would say that in Micheal Kenna’s picture, Brooklyn
    Bridge, he uses more leveling than sharpening to create a more harmonizing
    feeling. He makes this picture look harmonized by how calm the water is, and
    the use of the straight line underneath the bridge. If he would’ve taken the
    picture on top of the bridge instead, it would’ve been much sharper because of
    the amount of cars going by. In Lee Friedlander’s picture, Father Duffy, it
    expresses more of a sharper feeling. There is so much to look at in the
    picture, that your eyes don’t want to stay in one spot.

  • Jonathan Moore

    Lee Friedlanders’s Mr. Duffy, creates a much more busy and chaotic image, while the statue abppears to be the focal point and main subject of the photo, your eyes can not help but wander to all of the other large and “loud” objects in the frame; such as the Coca-cola board and the multiple “tkts” boards as well. On the other hand Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn, has a more balanced and calming effect on the psyche. The bridge forms a central dividing line in the image and the calm waters helps to focus the attention on the bridge, further emphasized by the evenly split city in the distance background.

  • Kayla Severson

    What are the different feelings and ideas created by Kenna’s and Friedlander’s choice of leveling and sharpening? Please compare the two photographs in the comments below. The two photos are very different when it comes to leveling and sharpening. Micheal Kenna’s photo, Brooklyn Bridge, uses more leveling and Lee Friedlander’s photo, Father Duffy, uses more sharpening. Kenna’s photo the lighting of the skyline and the bridge direct the eye towards the center of the photo and the skyline. The water is smooth and blends into the skyline well giving the photo a softer feel. Friedlander’s photo is the opposite. “Father Duffy” and the buildings all stand out and they appear hard. It is hard for the eye to focus on one thing.

  • Karisa Hanson

    In the photo titled Brooklyn Bridge taken by Michael Kenna he used more leveling in the photograph to make the photograph more calm and peaceful. He does this by choosing a frame the gets just the smooth of the water and the bridge in it rather than a spot with all the rushing cars on the bridge. In Lee Friedlander’s photograph titled Father Duffy he uses a lot more sharpening in the image. There is a lot going on in the photograph making it seem more chaotic which expresses the use of more sharpening in the image.

  • Stuart Schindler

    In the first photograph Brooklyn Bridge by Michael Kenna the photograph has little visual tension through Kenna’s use of leveling. Leveling makes the visual experience of the viewer much more relaxed and calm. The image portrays a very still and quite mood, even the water is almost as smooth as glass. Even though there is a large chaotic noisy city in the background this image seems removed from the chaos separating the viewer from the city with this pristine water.

    The second photo Time Square by Lee Friedlander portrays a much different mood by containing much more visual tension achieved through sharpening. This image is very visually busy giving the viewer a possible feeling of anxiety due to the chaos of everything contained in this photo. Time Square is a very busy place with a lot to look at and take in as portrayed by this image.

  • Chi En Leow

    Kenna’s choice of leveling is moving the composition toward
    harmony and away from tension. It creates a more relaxing feeling while looking
    at the picture full of skyscrapers. It feels like there is fog blocking the view,
    gives the viewer a sense of gazing the beauty of the night view from a further
    distance. Whereas Friedlander’s choice of sharpening is turning the image
    toward greater tension. It creates more tension in the photo, it makes every
    single item in the photograph were being focused.

  • McKenna Larsen

    In the first photograph, Kenna used more leveling because of
    how the composition is moving toward harmony. The image gives you a relax and
    laid back feeing because of the city skyline and the calm water. Because of this, the mood is set as very peaceful,
    even though city’s can be hectic. In the second photograph, the visual tension
    is the exact opposite. The image is sharpening because it is leaning more
    towards greater tension. The composition is busy and there is no space for
    harmony. Times Square in NYC is a very busy place and this picture by
    Friedlander describes it very well.

  • Leah Youngblood

    Both of these images contain different feelings and ideas about urban areas. Brooklyn Bridge by Kenna has a very calm feeling and the level is even where the viewer can relax and take in the view of the photo. This photo is very relaxed since the water is calm and the photo is uncluttered. Father Duffy by Friedlander shows a picture that is lot level and it is very cluttered with context. There is a feeling of hustle and commotion. It’s amazing that photos of the same idea can contain different feelings based on content and level.

  • Jessica McCoy

    There are many different feelings and ideas that are created through the different choices in leveling and sharpening. In the first photograph, Brooklyn Bridge, the leveling is so that the viewer sees the water at an eye level view. The photo feels as if the viewer should be looking at the same level as the water. The buildings in the background also appear blurry compared to the sharpness on the water. In the second photograph, Father Duty, the level appears to have the viewer looking up at the buildings and higher points. It is from more of a ground level view. The photograph is very sharp and does not have any other parts that appear to be blurry.

  • kacey brausen

    In the first photograph, Brooklyn Bridge, is a more level composition that decreases the visual stress or chaos. The leveling is so that the viewer sees the water at eye level, and this makes it feel calm and a sense of relaxation.The buildings in the back are blurry which puts the water as the focal point because of sharpness. in the second photograph, Father Duty, the vantage point appears to have to viewer looking up towards the buildings. So it must be from the ground level, the whole photo is very sharp and feels stressed or busy.

  • Nicole Haedtke

    Michael Kenna’s “Brooklyn Bridge” is at eye level for the viewer to look straight out. This is leveling which makes it much easier for the viewer to easily see the subject by decreasing the tensions. On the other hand, Lee Friedlander’s “Father Duffy” is full of tension. First the viewer must up to see the subject, making it not as easy or nice to look at as the bridge. Also there is a lot going on in the background and that is really distracting. This photo is sharper whereas the other gave off a hint of a blur which just shows the second uses sharpening.

  • Samantha Schierman

    Lee Friedlander’s photograph “Father Duffy” uses high tension which is more difficult to look at in comparison to Michael Kenna’s photograph “Brooklyn Bridge.” Friedlander’s photo places the main subject in the center but due to the busy background also being in clear focus, it makes it hard to focus on everything going on in the photograph. Kenna’s photograph does the opposite because the background is blurred which helps the audience focus mainly on the bridge but understanding the background to be there just not as in focus.

  • Pang Carter

    In the first photo of the Brooklyn Bridge the first thing you notice is the huge bridge running across the photo. Then you see the New York City in the background that amplifies the bridge. In the second photo of “Father Duffy” it’s harder to see the subject. There is the huge statue in the middle but also so many other things going on in the photo. So in the brooklyn bridge i feel a sense of calmness and in father duffy there is more noise.

  • Kylie Bridwell

    The “Father Duffy” has a lot of sharpening as it has high tension and makes me feel almost anxious and energetic. This gives the idea of the city being a busy place and constantly hustling and bustling. The bridge photo engages in more leveling which allows for a more calm feeling and ease to look at. This give the idea of moving away from the city there is some calmness and areas of relaxation.

  • Ashley

    Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn Bridge at top is a more level composition that decreases the visual tension, while Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy is a sharpened composition that emphasizes the visual tension. I love Brooklyn. To me its the right side of the river. This photo does the Brooklyn vibes right. No tension and no worries. Surrounded by the busier part of the greatest city in the world. This burrow is a calm, cool, developing place to come, just be. Call me a hipster, but it’s true. The framing in this photo does justice to the strength of Brooklyn, the bridge is beautiful and large and focused amongst the city. Father Duffy is a great representation of the city, the sharp tension shows the tight, full grind of Midtown. As much as we can, as clear as possible all at the same time. These photo do justice to the location and time that they were taken and represent the true definitions of leveling and sharping – very cool photos.

  • Alex Plank

    These photographs are both interesting. They both have very different vibes to them, which can appeal to differing viewers. “Brooklyn Bridge” by Michael Kenna is a much simpler, relaxed photograph. The picture was taken at eye-level, and has a lot less tension in it. However, “Father Duffy” by Lee Friedlander looks to have been taken at ground level – and gives off a much busier vibe than “Brooklyn Bridge” and has a lot more tension involved in the photograph itself.

  • Sarah

    The “Father Duffy” photo is a very sharpened photo and creates a lot of tension. I am not quite sure what to focus on and my eyes dart from one photo to another never really finding a resting place. It makes me feel anxious. Kenna’s photograph is more leveled and calming. The bridge leads your eyes down the middle of the picture and to the city. You know where Kenna wants your eyes to go and where he wants your eyes to rest. You aren’t constantly trying to find a the subject.

  • Kylynn Wolfe

    The photograph “Father Duffy” by Lee Friedlander seems to look much more busy than the “Brooklyn Bridge” by Michael Kenna. Because of the increased overall tension of the photograph, my eye struggles to find the entire main subject because much of the structures in the background are in sharp focus as well. Kenna’s photograph is much more calming and it is easy to see where the photographer intended the eye to be drawn.

  • ejemen aimienwauu

    The two images are both brilliant piece but different. The
    Father Duffy photograph is very sharp compared to the Brooklyn Bridge image.
    The father Duffy image uses more sharpening to turn the image towards greater
    tension. I feel like the main idea was to show the composition of the area in
    New York City. In the Brooklyn Bridge image more leveling is applied. The image
    has a more relaxed and calm sense toit as it is taken away from tension.

  • Tyler Mohr

    Kenna’s use of leveling makes the picture much more serene and relaxed whereas I would go as far to say that Freidlander creates an almost haunting portrayal with his use of little sharpening and interesting view point.

  • Breanna Huening

    In Michael Kenna’s use of leveling in his photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge it gives the viewer a more relaxed and calm visual and emotion. However when you look at the other image of Father Duffy, the technique of sharpening is used. This photograph has a lot more going on and is more intense visually.

  • Bader Albalawi

    Kenna’s photograph elements create an impression that the photo is divided into two halves. The element that is mostly giving that impression is the bridge. The photograph gives a calming feeling when I look at it. The other photograph by Lee Friedlander made me confused because I cannot see a relationship among its elements.

  • Hannah McGlone

    Kenna’s photograph has more of leveling, It is a much more harmonic photograph than the done shot by Friedlander’s has more tension. Meaning it is a sharper image.

  • Rachel Boehmke

    Kenna’s photograph has more leveling. It creates more balance and harmony and elicits a calmer more organized response. Freidlander’s photo is made up of tension, because it is a sharper image. It elicits a chaotic feeling in the viewer and causes you to step back and look again.

  • sydney croft

    Kenna’s photograph is more level. It has a lot more balance and harmony, and in general is more calm. Freidlander’s photo has tension, it is a shaper image and has a more congested feeling to it.

  • Noah Loos

    Kenna’s photograph is a lot easier on the eye in my opinion. Because he chose to level his photo instead of sharpen it, there is less clutter and visual tension in the photo. The photo, in return, looks a lot more open, calm, and balanced. You can tell he was aiming at taking a photo that captured the calmness and serenity of that city. Friedlander’s photo, on the other hand, looks a lot more cluttered with more visual tension because he chose to sharpen his photo. He was trying to capture the busyness and cluttered feeling of a big city.

  • Jade Spaulding

    While looking at Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn Bridge my eye is immediately drawn to the bridge and then starts to focus on because the photograph is so balanced. Visually this photograph is very pleasing and easy to look it. While looking at Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy my eyes cannot focus on just one aspect of the photograph and it seems very clustered. I am having a hard to concentrating on it because there is so much to look at.

  • Doug Simons

    In Friedlander’s Father Duffy my attention is first drawn to the statue at the center of the photo but immediately begin to bounce all over the place not focusing or concentrating on one thing while in the other picture my attention starts at the bridge but my concentration is immediately drawn towards the skyline where it stays.

  • Taylor Nyman

    I feel that Kenna’s Photograph keeps you on track as to making sure your eye ends up on the city in the end. Her leading line of the bridge help you eye to do that automatically. On the other hand Friedlander’s image is very busy, much like inside the city. Which is where this photo is taken. i feel that the tone of having lots of things in focus and clear make it distracting to know the real subject line as I look at the photo. I do think that both share an interesting aspect to city life.

  • Eric Frazier

    Michael Kenna’s Brooklyn Bridge has
    much less tension than Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy. Kenna’s uses leveling
    and the frame is balanced and the gradient of light gives a sense of calm.
    However, Friedlander’s sharping of the image creates a chaotic scene. The frame
    and subject matter has balance, it is filled with chaotic subject matter.

  • Melody Vang

    When looking at Kenna’s photograph, my attention goes straight to the bridge in the middle, this bridge balances out the photograph with the city buildings and lights from behind. It gives off a very calm and mellow feeling as the texture of the photograph seems to be very smoothed out. The second photograph taken by Friedlander is more detailed, it has a lot more going on from behind the statue that seems to be balancing out the photo. There is a greater level of sharpening in this photo compared to Kenna’s where as it is more leveled.

  • Cassandra Koscianski

    While Freidlander went with sharpness, Kenna went with a more level picture. While they both show a city, I think Kenna’s is a picture that can contain a busy scene, but moderates it by pairing it with a scene that gives a feeling of serene and calmness. It’s easier to look at because while you do have a big city in front of you, your eyes come at ease with the body of water. In Friedlander’s picture, its so busy that you find yourself trying to find a place to rest albeit failing because it’s just another unknown object that you’re stuck trying to figure out.

  • Marissa Williams

    Kenna was more level with his photographs, while Friedlander was more sharp. Kenna’s picture was more harmonious, while Friedlander’s picture had more for the viewer to look at. Kenna’s picture easily let’s the viewer know what they should be looking at. Friedlander had more going on, so there was more to look at.

  • Ben Barner

    I think that Kenna’s photograph is more visually pleasing. It is much more level than Friedlander’s photograph which is greater tension and is sharper. In “Brooklyn Bridge” Kenna gives the viewer a clear subject matter. In “Father Duffy” Friedlander leaves the viewer to search through multiple areas of detail before identifying the subject of the photograph.

  • Evan Tangen

    Friedlander and Kenna’s photographs both elicit very different feelings. Friedlander’s work is sharp, angular and in focus. it communicates power and a dynamic element. Kenna’s work is softer and seems almost dreamlike- something that is aided heavily by the calm water pictured under the bridge and the softer angles. It has a nice level element to it.

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