I was looking through several of my favorite images from the past 6 months and I noticed a pattern. Many of them have a visual flow I find interesting. Visual flow is the natural way your eye will move through an image. Some compositions will have obvious elements that direct your eye like a path, or river. Other compositions create visual flow with receding layers, successive points of interest, leading lines and other similar concepts. I thought I would share some recent images that demonstrate different types of visual flow.
McKenzie River Sunset
Using the movement of flowing water is one of the easiest ways to create visual flow, it also helps to create a three dimensional feel. In this image of the McKenzie river, I was using the movement of the water, the shape of the cascades, the shoreline and receding river to draw the eye up and through the image. The backlit trees and reflecting light of sunset are nice points of interest that help pull the eye though the image as well.
Smith Rock Sunset
This is my favorite image from this year so far. I found this composition years ago, it’s one of my favorites from Smith Rock State Park, but I was never able to capture this kind of light until this past winter. One of the reasons I like this composition so much is how my eye travels through the image. The first thing that attracts me to the image is sunset and corresponding light on the rocks, but I love how my eye then wanders along the river and around the bend and then back into the sky and on the rocks. It’s this visual flow that helps create a sense of three dimensions and makes this so visually interesting for me.
The Land of Dr Seuss
I used overlapping layers in this image to create depth and visual flow. I walked all around this scene to find a spot with interesting foreground trees and a tantalizing view through the trees. It’s this little peek through the trees that draws my eye through the middle ground and into the background. I also think the lean of the foreground trees helps direct the eye toward the opening in the trees helping the visual flow of the image. I think it all comes together to create a visually interesting image that directs the eye through the frame.
Walking With Giants
Sean Bagshaw was showing me some of his favorite locations in Redwood National Park this spring. This particular location attracted me with the natural visual flow created by the converging pathways through the oxalis, ferns and redwoods. I walked the scene extensively to find a vantage point that accentuated this visual flow. This was my favorite spot. I love how the spacing of the sword ferns helps create depth, you feel as if you could walk right into the frame and on the path. My eye delights in bouncing from one fern to the next until it rests on the fallen trees in the background.
Visual flow is is a compositional concept I look for more and more. I appreciate images with good visual flow, that encourage my eye to explore the scene. I encourage everyone to try to incorporate the concept of visual flow into your own photography. I find it to be a great exercise when trying to find compelling compositions in the field.
To learn more about me, my photography and post processing tutorials, visit my website: https://www.zschnepf.com
Location: Bend, OR
Zack is an award winning photographer specializing in fine art landscape photography and post processing. “Art is in my blood. My father is a well known poster artist and painter. My mom was a painter, and print maker and my brother is an art director at Facebook. Art is a way of life for my family, and I will hopefully pass it on to my children as well.”
“The love of nature is also something that my family and I are passionate about. I’ve been hiking, biking, rock climbing and backpacking since I was little. From an early age, I learned to appreciate the beauty in nature.”