In all things, the Way does not want to be obstructed, for if there is obstruction, there is choking; if the choking does not cease, there is disorder, and disorder harms the life of all creatures ~Chuang-Tzu*

linesandshapes (4)

When I chisel a wheel, if the blows of the mallet are too gentle, the chisel slides and won’t take hold. But if they’re too hard, it bites in and won’t budge. Not too gentle, not too hard–you can get it in your hand and feel it in your mind.  You can’t put it into words, and yet, there’s a knack to it somehow. I can’t teach it to my son, and he can’t learn it from me. ~Wheelwright P’ien*

*cited in:

Tao of Photography Seeing Beyond Seeing

Philippe L. Gross & S.I. Shapiro

initially posted on September 21, 2013

winter’s greeting

Nikon D750 f/4.5 1/3200s 85mm 800 ISO

I often find myself whining during this time of the year as winter’s dormant colors…its various hues of yellows and browns…stir up a visual yearning for the greens of spring.

This impatience with Mother Earth’s slumber…this “gaikan“…this outward judgmental direction upon the external world that feeds a delusional belief, “life would be better only if you change…” has been silenced with an acceptance that it is not Mother Earth’s nature to bend to my will and an intention to open myself to the various elements of photo composition she offers to my wandering eye.

My eyes first were attracted to the repeating patterns of the building and then to the repeating patterns of the yellow strips within the curve of the trail. Then a gift…a runner whose figure completed the image. Her greeting and smile were icing on the cake.

To join in the fun of learning and applying various elements of photography hop on over to Travel’s Words and “Shoot from a different perspective. Look up, look down or shoot from a distance.”

contemplative photography 8

This year-long project seems to be drawing upon composition elements that were covered at the beginning of this study.  Recently, I revisited the post which explored the elements of simplicity as part of this series on contemplative photography.

Today, I find myself going back and re-reading the two separate post about rhythm.  Rhythm involves the same or similar elements repeating at regular intervals.  Repetition is easy to find…all around us are shape that are pretty basic and similar to each other.  We see them repeating at regular intervals within nature, design, works of art, architecture, and photography.

 The origin of repetition is from the French repeticion or Latin repetitio(n-), from repetere – repeat.  

When you repeat a certain size or shape or color you add strength to the overall image of a photograph.  If you want to make a statement, you repeat certain elements again and again. If you repeat something once or twice it becomes more interesting. If you repeat something many times it becomes a pattern and takes on a life of its own.

Patterns give us order in an otherwise chaotic world. 

A Karr and M Wood (The Practice of Contemplative Photography) invites photographers to  “see patterns of light–not things that are illuminated, or shadows cast by objects that block the light.”

I found that this exercise “seeing patterns of light” was a bit of a challenge for as I was more drawn towards patterns created by shadows.  Therefore, while on a photo walk, I found that when I connected with light, I had to actually stop and question, “is this a light pattern or a shadow pattern?”

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I challenge you to open yourself to seeing light…patterns of light. I would enjoy seeing your creations and reading about your experiences and thoughts about light patterns. Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

Visual Rhythm brings to mind that moment in elementary school during a lecture on diagramming sentences in which I found myself totally confused. It was as if I had missed school for an extended period of time and now being back I am way, way behind the rest of the class…their eyes shining with understanding, their quick responses to questions…expanding the abyss between grammar and I.


Then there were those nightmares where I suddenly found myself wandering the school halls, lost and unable to locate my classroom, no one apparently seeing or hearing me, the anxiety intensifying because there is an exam scheduled on a topic that I had either totally forgot to study or simply couldn’t understand.  All of this begs the question, “how does one study what one cannot understand?”


This past week my “focus” on rhythm has had me revisit those school memories of struggling to understand, to perceive, to apply…I have come to equate visual rhythm with English grammar and Mathematical imaginary numbers. And to even muddy my comprehension even more, my research through various websites found variations on this theme:

1) Sae Alumi  notes that we always search for rhythm, balance, and harmony in photography and that the effort to master these three will make us more conscious and aid in creating more appealing images.

The repetition of forms is easy to find … Everything around us is built out of shapes that are pretty basic and often similar to each other. Look at trees: their forms could be closed in imaginary triangles, rectangles or circles. Start to observe shapes repeating in nature and the city space, within your body. Photograph structures of windows in skyscrapers or lines painted on a road.


2) APN

The primary characteristic of rhythm is its predictability and order. For example, day and night and the pattern of seasons are predictable and follow a particular movement along a connected path to exhibit a sense of rhythm. Rhythm is as important in photography as it is in music. Music when not in rhythm can be categorized as noise. But when it attains a timed beat at regular intervals, it turns pleasant to the ears. … Similarly, rhythm in photography renders a pleasant sensation to the eyes.



3. Sophia

Repetition refers to one object or shape repeated; pattern is a combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement; rhythm is a combination of elements repeated but with variations.

Rhythm is like pattern, in that the same elements (i.e. shape, line) are repeated; however, with rhythm there are slight variations in the pattern. Rhythm is easily perceived but complex and subtle. Think of  water on a beach; it  continually breaks on the shore in lines that are repeated,  yet each one is different.



Rhythm is a repeating pattern through time (in music) or in space (more useful for our purposes). Whether you have a repeating individual element, such as the lines in the sand…or repeating groups such as the rows of magnets… (and remember, our brains will create groups, even if we didn’t intend them to be there), it’s important to think about the energy that this repetition adds to an image. Rhythm can be used to add peace and regularity to an image, and it can also be used to help a subject that interrupts the rhythm stand out



5. Vanseo design

Rhythm is a regular and repeated pattern, usually of sound or movement. …How do we define rhythm visually? As a design principle we can say rhythm is the patterned repetition of elements in space. We place elements on the page and experience the intervals between them. Time enters as our eye moves from one element to the next and through this rhythm in space and time we can create a sense of organized movement similar to a musical beat.

There are a variety of places where you can find rhythm.
• music — patterns of sound over timed intervals
• dance — patterns of movement and gesture through physical space
• speech — patterns of cadence in spoken words
• writing — patterns of cadence written words
• painting — patterns of brush stroke, color, shape, on a canvas

Notice the repetition of the word “patterns” in the list above. Pattern is essential to rhythm. So is repetition. The list above creates a rhythm though repetition. Visually each list item begins with a bullet. The bullet is then followed by a single bolded word, an mdash, and the words “patterns of.” Were I to add another item to the list you would expect it to follow the same predictable pattern.

Notice too, the slight variations created with the length of each line and by the links in a couple of the list items. These variations help break the monotony and add surprise and interest to the rhythm.


To add to this conversation there are different types of rhythm:

regular rhythm

alternating rhythm

flowing rhythm

random rhythm

progressive rhythm

symmetry rhythm

undulating rhythm, and (breaking this repetition)

rhythm sensation


Now I have a clearer understanding as to why, despite my continued efforts, I could never draw random v-shaped birds in my childhood drawings. While I may stumble in my attempts to comprehend rhythm, I have come to understand that all of us are hard wired to see and create patterns.

I would love to hear your thoughts about visual rhythm and to see how you incorporate this composition element within your own photography.   Also…does anyone know of an elementary article about visual rhythm?


when i awake

i wonder

if the color i saw

in my dream

was real 

or imaginary

winterbckofford-abstract20154dsc_2139jan-27-2017was it red?

i turn back

towards the word red

but the color is gone

what i thought was 

being alive 

is only various colors

reflected and


in my mind

sun setting

turned the windowpane orange

shower spray

was a diamond color

so i thought

now only the memory 

of color remains

the window 

and the shower spray

have vanished.

~Yoshihara Sachiko

I found this video, The Pattern behind Self-deception, at by Michael Shermer interesting as well as entertaining.  Hope you find your self smiling.