a photo study: shape

This week my topic of study was shape.  Shape, the basic two-dimensional element within composition, is defined by line, space, color, and contrast of differing light areas. There are three basic shapes – square, triangle, circle.  There are also combinations of basic shapes, organic – leaves, trees, people, flowers – and abstract configuations.

Ted Forbes noted that abstract shapes can often have

…phycological associations with the viewer on various levels of depth. At their most obvious they tend to be object identification. A silhouette of a chair can be identified as a chair because its an object just about everyone can identify. Same with any other subject or shape of familiarity. Shapes that are abstracted either by blur, shadow, distance or scale begin to have a more dramatic effect as they might hit the viewer on a more subconscious level. In other words they might not be the first thing the viewer sees or recognizes on first glance. This can often create interest and a stronger visual impact.

Shapes can be made more dominant by placing them against a plain contrasting background. The greater emphasis of shape is achieved when the shape is silhouetted thus eliminating other qualities of the shape, such as texture and roundness, or the illusion of form.


Shape is the foundation of  form.


Form is the three-dimensional counterpart to shape. Shape is to form as a square is to a cube.  Form is shape with dimension or volume. To change a shape to a form, dimension must be created by the addition of tone or color transitions within the shape. This results is the illusion of three-dimensions in a two-dimensional space. With the proper application of light and tonal range, shape will transform into a three-dimensional quality of form. Lightening can also subdue or even destroy form by causing dark shadows that cause several shapes to merge into one.


To apply this understanding of shapes and form in composition, I set out to complete an assignment outlined by Ted Forbes creating images in a studio type environment with oranges as a subject and using the techniques of: cropping, scale, fragmentation, focus, lightening, metaphor, and implied.

I found that this assignment to create images in a studio type environment to be a challenge as I tend to be more “improvisational” and thus the use of flames and goslings within the last two images (metaphor and implied).

Thank you for visiting.  As I noted before I would love to have you join me in this learning journey and to read your thoughts.  I hope you find this Ted Forbes Youtube video informative:


  1. Another great post, Brenda. I came here 3 times now 😉
    Since reading your first post in this series, I have a strong desire to join you. I even took some photos for previous posts, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with them, so I didn’t post any ;-( What I am trying to say is I really enjoy reading this, and appreciate it a lot. And I am still working on joining 😉
    Have a great day.

    1. Great hearing from you! It seems that you have joined me on this journey…we are just on different paths…you in real life, me in the blogging world. 😊 I’m grateful you have found it informative. Even though I just began this project, I’m finding a bit of changes in my photography. Hopefully you will soon create images to share🙂

Comments are closed.