This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Pulling Power Of Picture Space. Each and every part of the picture has a certain amount of pulling power; that is, each and every section claims attention, and might be termed a magnet - each one having a certain amount of attraction for the eye, and in obtaining attention for itself weakening to a greater or less extent some other point of attraction in the picture.
Illustration No. 31
219. "On the principle of the steelyard (see Illustration 31), the farther from the center and more isolated an object is, the greater its weight or attraction. Therefore, in the balance of a picture it will be found that a very important object placed but a short distance from the center may be balanced by a very small object on the other side of the center and further removed from it. The whole of the pictorial interest may be on one side of a picture and the other side be practically useless as far as picturesqueness or storytelling opportunity is concerned, but which finds its reason for existing in the balance, and that alone.
220. "In the emptiness of the opposing half such a picture, when completely in balance, will have some bit of detail or accent which the eye in its circular symmetrical inspection will catch, unconsciously, and weave into its calculation of balance; or if not an object or accent or line of attraction, then some technical quality, or spiritual quality, such, for example, as a strong feeling of gloom, or depth for penetration, light or dark, a place in fact, for the eye to dwell upon as an important part in connection with the subject proper, and recognized as such.
AUGUST SHOWERS Study No. 10 - See Page 311 By Dr. A. R. BENEDICT.
" FAST FALLS THE EVENTIDE " Study No. 11 - See Page 312 By Geo. H. Paine.
221. " 'But,' the querist demands, 'if all the subject is on one side of the center and the other side depends for its existence on a balancing space or accent only, why not cut it off?' Do so. Then you will have the entire subject in one-half the space to be sure, but its harmony or balance will depend on the equipoise when pivoted on the new center."
222. "It is not maintained that every good picture can show this complete balance; but the claim is made that the striving on the part of its designer has been in the direction of this balance, and that, had it been secured, the picture would have been that much better."
223. "It is easy to recognize a good composition; to tell why it is good may be difficult; to tell how it could be made better is what the art worker desires to know. Let the student when in doubt weigh out his picture in the balances mindful that the principle of the steelyard covers the items in the depth as well as across the breadth of the picture."
224. Another rule which you should bear in mind is: "Where the subject is on one side of the center it must exist close to the center, or, in that degree in which it departs from the center show positive anchorage to the other side." Frequently, where the subject matter appears to one side of the center and the opposite side contains practically nothing of importance, there should be in this space some detail or unit of attraction which the eye will catch when viewing the picture as a whole.
225. Referring to Study No. 13, "Calling the Ferryman," by Nancy F. Cones, we have the strongest items, or masses of interest located very near the center, these being the two children. If the larger child did not appear in the picture the smaller one would occupy the undesirable central position, but as the picture now stands these two subjects could not have been better placed. Notice that they occupy a position in the left-hand side of the picture. The small item of interest or weight on the opposite side is the ferryman in his boat. Observe further, that this item, although very small, balances the two items in the foreground, carrying out two principles of balance; the first being, that an object located near the margin of a picture has a greater weight than one near the center; and second, an item or object in the distance has greater weight than one in the foreground. This picture is an excellent example of the steelyard principle of balance. (See page 130.) on the side opposite the principle item of interest, the artist having left a stretch of space which in itself balances the mass on the opposite side. The technical quality on this practically blank side of the picture may be expressed in various ways. For example, it may express a strong feeling of gloom, depth of penetration, light or dark, something at least upon which the eye can rest, if only for a moment.
Illustration No. 32 The simplest of pictures may have practically no detail.