Order and Balance in Photography

An ornately decorated pathway leads to a beautiful entrance to a Hindu Shrine in Bali, Indonesia.

This photo, and the structure it depicts, is all about order and balance. I remember taking quite a bit of time setting up my camera and tripod to emphasize the symmetry of design within this lovely Hindu shrine entrance in rural Bali, Indonesia.

Order and Chaos in Photography

This is actually quite a busy scene and I’ve employed composition to quieten the image down and make it easier to navigate. Overly complex images rarely engage viewer attention.

Color and Composition

The dominant color is orange, a symbolically important color in Hindu religion. You may notice how the little splash of orange in the foreground motif ties in with the rich orange color of the main structure. The cool green color of the grass and surrounding foliage provides a nice color contrast which further enhances the vibrant nature of the orange structure.

Symmetry, Pattern and Repetition

This is a very symmetrical scene. Notice the pattern on the foreground motif and the steps that lead to the shrine door. The repetition of black against white helps lead the eye, and the pilgrim, upwards towards the shrine.

Message and Meaning 

Notice also the individual decorative elements around the shrine. They are in sets of two that serve to mirror each other. No doubt there is some esoteric reason for this. While I’ve long had an interest in the concept of dualities (i.e., opposites), this structure seems to deal more with the notion of pairs, perhaps even of sameness. As I take the time to deconstruct the image, I’m wondering why that seems to be the case.

Making the Photo

This photo is very much about detail and information. I employed a 28mm focal length on a full frame Canon 5D Mark II camera to both include the foreground motif and also to extend the sense of the journey, both physical and metaphorical, between it and the doorway. To ensure critical sharpness I employed my Really Right Stuff tripod, critical focusing and an aperture of f11.

It’s always important to pay attention to composition when making photos. This fact is, perhaps, particularly important in Architectural Photography and when the very nature of what you’re exploring revolves around notions of symmetry, order and balance.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru