2014—Dynamic Tension

Dynamic Tension, most notably a term coined by Charles Atlas (the former 98 pound weakling) almost 100 years ago to describe an exercise method that uses muscles in opposition, is also a term used in photographic composition. I just learned this through my Flickr challenge group and, you guessed it, “dynamic tension” is a recent topic. After a little research, I learned that dynamic tension is used to create visual tension in photographs by using diagonal lines to lead the eye outward from the center of the picture.

I can see this technique used in architectural photography and most of the examples I looked at did feature architecture so finding something structural to photograph was my original plan for this challenge. But when I followed the hummer at midday to her favorite perch high above the yard with the feeder in view, I realized that the diagonal lines created by the bare twigs and branches might serve to create the dynamic tension I was after. I think this shot, with the hummer looking in the opposite direction from the diagonals of the twigs, coupled with the branch in the foreground cutting through its body and casting a dark shadow across it, creates some dynamic tension. I’m really not certain that this translates to photographic dynamic tension but the diagonal twigs criss crossing at angles leading over, under, around, and through (almost), everywhere but to the subject made me tense!

Focal Length 400mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/400

Day 190-17