Friday, November 4, 2016

Ming Thein on Visual Weight

I direct your attention to this post over here and remark that Ming is, as usual, simply not bothering to look up the standard definitions of things and instead is just making stuff up. It's like reading Arnheim, if the latter had spent five minutes pulling nonsense out of his ass instead of years doing and reading research. Visual weight is something not quite completely different, but definitely different from what Ming appears to be talking about. In particular this nonsense about "pulling the eye" is utter rot, err, I mean, non-standard usage.

For a fellow who professes to be interested in education, his unwillingness to look anything at all up continues to be startling.

However, there's one remark worth noting in there, after a fashion. Right at the end, Ming says this:

I’ve always thought of a frame this way: it’s a flat sheet balanced on one point, which is your subject; in order for the eyes of your audience not to exit the frame – the sheet imbalances itself falls off the subject – all of the other objects must be distributed about the frame just so to be balanced [...]

which is indeed how he constructs his pictures, and which is surely the neatest and simplest explanation for them. Consider what kinds of pictures it rules out.

Anything which is imbalanced is out.

Anything in which there is more than one point of interest is ruled out. A picture of two people in conversation? No.



  1. All this "eyes exiting the frame" stuff which gets landscape photogs so excited (and Ming is definitely a landscape photographer, whatever he says) is only second Ye Holy Foreground Interest in stuff that gets me fuming.

    What if my whole point is to convey some question of what lies outside of the frame? What is it with these people who make up all their little rules, and then decide if some other photo, about which they know precisely zilch, is Not A Good Photograph because it doesn't fit in their tiny unimaginative mindset? That's why Ming looks nothing up - he has zero sense of imagination and cannot conceive that something exists beyond his safe little precision engineered constructs.

    Phew. That's better.

    1. My brother in huffiness! Welcome!

    2. Indeed the whole 'eye leading' thing is bogus. Any specific directional references are conceptual rather than physiological. The eye, in fact, wanders erratically between fairly predictable interesting things without reference to any of the BS photographers love to imagine direct 'the eye'.

      It turns out that our seeing apparatus finds interesting points and then looks at them. Imagine!

  2. I will upset you, and tell you that we people, look at other people first, animals second, then everything else. Then we look at what's biggest in the frame, then the color red, then high contrast areas, then what's sharp, warm, cool, small, out of focus.
    What if there ARE rules? Because our brain is a machine? And likes to do the same things over and over?
    Just joking. Sort of, the first half of what I wrote is true (for me).