Thursday, July 19, 2012

Out of kilter?

Can something be "in kilter", as opposed to "out of kilter"? We tend to look for symmetry in many circumstances. The human body is pretty close to bilateral symmetry on the outside (though many of our internal organs are not). We are generally attracted to bodies and faces that exhibit good symmetry (undoubtedly because there is a degree of correlation with health and reproductive fitness), although subtle variation, that slight quirk of one side or the other, can be beguiling in itself.

The search for symmetry in flowers is similar (often rotational symmetry, in this case), but when you think about it, a flower that showed perfect symmetry and absolutely no blemishes would look like a fake, and probably be thought less beautiful than a real one by most of us.

These thoughts flitted through my mind as I looked at a photo of a house plant that I made this afternoon. Its bloom is sort of roughly symmetric, but what I find striking is the degree to which it is out of kilter, out of whack, totally askew, really off. Usually, I would tend to place my subject a bit away from the center of the frame, unless it was a perfectly symmetrical pattern of some sort. Without thinking about it until after I pressed the shutter, I intuitively framed this image with the subject almost in the center of the field of view. Something about its lopsided nature made it seem strongest there.

(200 mm, f/7.1, shot from minimum focus distance of 1.2 meters)

On the other hand, with a vertical aspect ratio, I preferred it a little more off center. Do you?


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