Rhythm and Pattern

In the final exercise of Part 2 – Elements of Design, I was to approach the subject of rhythm and pattern. I needed to produce only two photographs, one for rhythm and one for pattern. Distinguishing between rhythm and pattern sounds fairly simple on the face of it. Pattern is a number of repeating themes or points within a frame, often with regularity and remain fairly static without the need for the eye to move over them time again to gain an understanding of the image. Rhythm on the other hand is again a repetition within the frame but requires the viewer’s eye to travel over it, usually from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, to gain an understanding. As has been the case in various other exercises in this project, such is the nature of the interaction of all these design elements; the final execution is never as clear cut as one might hope. I decided that I would use architecture as my muse as it offers so many opportunities for both elements. Once I started looking objectively (having brainstormed some ideas beforehand), the two subjects started to come closer together than I expected. For example, upon finding some spiral staircases, I started to take some photographs. I found myself unable to really distinguish whether, in the frame, they were forming pattern or rhythm or indeed were they creating both?

Spiral staircase

Spiral staircase

I’m not certain the final image is particularly well defined as I couldn’t get the angle I wanted but it did leave me in a quandary about which of the subjects I was actually taking. There is certainly rhythm as the eye follows from left to right and along the curves of the staircases. On the other hand, the repetition gives a distinct pattern, especially when viewed as a diagonal using the sky as an opposing, neutral line. I would err towards rhythm but the overriding factor became clear early on; the two subjects are not mutually exclusive. I stopped while on the shoot to redefine what I was after from my final images and check my list. As I continued, my mind became clearer about what type of subject I needed to find. To describe rhythm I needed to find a repetitious flow, pattern needed to be a static repetition that was aesthetically pleasing to my eye.

So, the photographs below became my final images.



This very tall building is quite eye-catching and when I viewed the balustrades as an abstract rather than a whole there existed some clear rhythm. The rounded balustrades, dropping in height by increments from left to right; the dark areas between the walls decreasing in width from left to right; the evenly spaced walls at a slight diagonal to the frame. I have given the image height by cropping it fairly tightly across its width and increasing the length for the viewer’s eye to follow. The tight cropping also gives the impression of the building continuing outside these boundaries.



The repetitious nature of this image, a car park, plus the heavy contrast serves well as a chequered pattern. The cars that are visible add to the context and interest of the image, which would have made no sense to the viewer otherwise. Here I can see the use of horizontal lines, which give the impression of the continuation of the car park outside of the frame.

As this project has continued I have found myself more and more drawn in to the intricacies of the design elements of photography and look forward to putting them all to good use in the final assignment for this section. I have also enjoyed photographing in black and white as it really concentrates the mind on the graphical nature of the image. To begin with I was just shooting and half forgetting the format which it would need to take in the final exercise but, as the project has progressed, I have found myself being able to more easily visualise the scene I want to shoot and then understand whether it will make a good black and white image.

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