Figure and Ground?

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by Doc W, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    I have heard some photographers talking about the concept of figure and ground in photographs. I have tried to find some more information on this but it seems a little nebulous. I can't really nail down what they are talking about. Have any of you heard of this idea and can anyone direct me to a site or book that discusses it fully?
     
  2. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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  3. Sirius Glass

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    I can recommend two books that were recommended to me by my supervisor when I started at Kodak on perception:
    Art and Visual Perception, A Psychology of the Creative Eye, The New Version, 50th Anniversary Printing, 1974, Rudolf Arnheim, University of California Press Berkley, ISBN-13: 9780-520-24383-5, ISBN-10: 0-520-24383-8
    Perception & Imaging, Second Edition, Richard D. Zakia, 2002, Focal Press, Boston et al, ISBN: 0-240-80466-X
    I hope these help you, they helped me.
     
  4. rpavich

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    This is a video that includes the concept, it's really really worth watching over and over. This has been a very valuable video for me on so very many levels. It includes much more than figure to ground.

    But, specifically the figure to ground idea is discussed starting here:


    Here is a link to the entire video

     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Thank you I learned things and enjoyed it.
     
  6. Julie McLeod

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    Thank you. I'm getting a lot out of this video.
     
  7. rpavich

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    You're welcome. I've watched it 10 times and still get things out of it. If I only could retain it all :smile:


    You're welcome. In my opinion, Adam Marelli is a very underrated photographer and educator. He's very sharp. He's also got a Udemy course that's much longer than this.
     
  8. Nodda Duma

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    Thank ypu for posting about this.
     
  9. Julie McLeod

    Julie McLeod Subscriber

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    Thanks for the Udemy suggestion too. I'm going to take a couple of his courses. :smile:
     
  10. rpavich

    rpavich Subscriber

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    You are very welcome!
     
  11. pentaxuser

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    Yes,it became clear after about 1 minute that this person knew what he was talking about, how to make it relevant and most importantly how to impart his knowledge to an audience. Alas something that can be stated for few presenters on You Tube

    pentaxuser
     
  12. Sirius Glass

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    Well it looks like the OP gets rave reviews for this thread! Kudos!
     
  13. SJacPhoto

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    the figure to ground in Photography describes the contrast between the foreground and the background. When subjects are separated and clearly visible it is easier for the viewer to comprehend the scene. The way books have mostly white pages with black letters, we as photographers can arrange a scene that it becomes easier to observe.

    You can also see more here: https://streetbounty.com/2016/06/24/figure-to-ground/
     
  14. Theo Sulphate

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    Intersection of walls in my house:

    IMAG6178-1.jpg

    (photo made at night with steam-powered phone, sorry)
     
  15. jtk

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    Most people think photos are "of something." Of a duck, of a bride, of lunch" etc. Those are figures. I think photographers often fail to understand that their cameras don't work that way...cameras don't know or care what they're photographing.

    IMO concern about figure/ground is old-fashioned analytic and might sometimes best be put aside by photographers. What does the viewer notice on second viewing?
     
  16. jtk

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    For example, the OT has a tagline that says ""The beauty and profundity of God is more real than any mere calculation."

    That's not true for anybody with eyes open, or for their cameras. It's inferred intellectually but not often experienced...therefore not often beautiful or profound.

    God seems usually to be insisted-upon as "Figure." That can distract us from "ground." What is more "beautiful or profound" than the everyday reality we photograph?
     
  17. cliveh

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  18. OP
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    Doc W

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    I just came back here after a 2-3 month hiatus to find all of these wonderful responses. Thanks so much, you guys. Much appreciated.

    jtk, I didn't completely grasp what you were saying. Try me again in PM if you like.
     
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