Real and Implied Triangles

The implications of using triangles in design are clear. They are dynamic (due in part to the diagonals formed), they force the viewer to look in a certain direction as they form an arrowhead to point, they are clean and futuristic looking angles. Triangles can form a basis of many graphic and geometric drawings by connecting a few or many together. It is a strong shape visually as it appears readily to the human eye. The photographer can also use them in their compositions for the same reasons. They are easy to find in everyday objects occurring both naturally (any three points will imply a triangle that the eye can connect together) and man-made (architecture makes full use of the natural strength and dynamism of triangles).
The object of this exercise was to demonstrate some of the many appearances of triangles in everyday features as both implied and real shapes. First I shall show and describe the ‘real’ triangles.

Triangle detail

Triangle detail

This triangle is formed as part of a wood carved totem pole and I have taken a close-up shot to appreciate the detail. The angles of the wood are accentuated by the lighting (which arrives from top left) and the cracks form a series of triangles all the way along these angles. I haven chosen to crop the image as a square to further suggest the triangular nature of this frame.

Vertical convergence

Vertical convergence

The tall office towers converge towards the top of the frame to create a triangle. The clean corners and edges of the buildings literally point in to the sky leaving an easy eye-line to follow for the viewer. It creates a dramatic view, leading the viewer’s eye from the bottom to the top of the frame.

Inverted triangle from perspective

Inverted triangle from perspective

The reflection of these very tall buildings creates an inverted triangle. The angle I have taken the photograph at serves to foreshorten the reflection and enhance the effect of the perspective. I have also made sure that the edge of the image points to the top corners of the frame. This has the effect of extending the lines outside of the frame, again accentuating the effect of the triangle. Having the apex at the bottom of this triangle creates an uneasy sense of balance, as usually the viewer will see the base of the triangle at the bottom of the frame. Gravity normally dictates the a wide base supports the load on top of it. In this case that is literally turned on it head. Note that I have had to use a reflection to achieve this. I could have done the same with a shadow. But in each case I need to invert an existing object that has the characteristics of the image described above.

The next three images are implied as the eye has to make the connection between the points shown within the frame.

Apex at top

Apex at top

Lightning McQueen tops this still-life triangle with the apex at the top. This is a very solid looking, traditional triangle. The eyes fill the gaps with ease to form a perceived or implied solid shape.

Inverted triangle

Inverted triangle

Unfortunately these cigarette ends were all too easy to find to make this implied inverted triangle. I used a shallow depth-of-focus to see whether the eye would still find it easy to complete the shape. The answer is yes although not as quickly as with a deep depth-of-focus. The eye initially fixes on the focused stub then completes the triangle more gradually than in the previous image. This is due in part to the focus but also to the eye naturally expecting the apex to be at the top of the frame.

Bodies in triangle

Bodies in triangle

The exercise here was to show three bodies creating a triangle by implication. I took a high angle above an area, which I knew contained existing triangles and was busy with people. The three women create an implied triangle. This shape is strengthened by the line and direction of their travel as the two women on the left mimic the lines in the floor tiles.

Having taken this series of photographs I think I would like to concentrate a bit harder on finding the inverted triangles as they are a lot less abundant and give a sense of instability which in turn creates unease in the viewers mind forcing them to have to work harder to reconcile the image.

Michael Freeman gives a good example of this on page 87 of his book ‘The Photographer’s Eye’. The image is taken from above with a wide-angle lens to strengthen the triangle and give the sense, almost, of voyeurism. The implied triangle is not that obvious but is enough to create a slight sense of unease upset the natural balance for the viewer as they try to make sense of the image. The strong red of the subject’s dress also helps to point the viewer’s eye from top downwards along an implied triangle.

Michael Freeman - Two seated figures

Michael Freeman – Two seated figures

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Real and Implied Triangles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s