The Devil is in the Details, they say. I have to ask: Why is it that only the Devil is concerned about details? Details are everything in photography. They may not be the focus of your photo, but a composition lacking a certain level of detail leaves the viewer empty. But what about when the subject is the detail? The result could be an incredible photograph. Photographer and Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group member, Murli Agarwal, is a detail guy. He is the creator of this interesting untitled photograph shown here, and he was kind enough to share it with the group. The result is stunning.
Details aren’t always subtle and minuscule. In the case of Murli’s photo, I suspect that this is a dome of some sort of structure or building. The nearby tree clues us into the relative size of the structure – and it appears to be quite large. It also features a number of our favorite compositional building blocks: Form (the structure is obviously dome shaped), Texture (the discs across the surface of the dome), Pattern (in this case, the texture is also the pattern), and Color. But the part that makes this shot so appealing to me is what isn’t shown. We aren’t sure, for certain, what this is exactly. Despite the odd shapes and qualities of the dome, our minds tell us it’s a building. But is it really? That’s a question for Murli. If we were shown a door, or a window or even the foundation, we could confirm to our minds that this is a building.
In the absence of such information, our minds are left to make speculative guesses. But isn’t that the beauty of a shot like this? The photographer is given the ability to mess with our minds. Photography can be a game. And when shooting details, it’s a fun game to play.
I want to point out the lighting in this shot. The shot appears to be lit with natural light. Even with these gold plates, the light will reflect light with a color temperature very close to white at it’s brightest point. It is slightly warmer (more yellow) than true white light, but that just shows the effect of a gold reflector on the quality of the light. Keep that in mind when you’re working with reflected light. You have control over the color of the light.
The light is also a source of another optical illusion. Take a look at the 7 brightest disks that form into the rough shape of a hexagon. These are much brighter than those surrounding them, so they seem to pop from the shot. Additionally, if you ignore the other discs, you might be inclined to think that the discs are convex because of the way the light reflects.
When I see a shot like this, I try to envision the shot if it were composed differently. What if we provided more context – the doors or other architectural indicators that I mentioned earlier? Would this be as strong compositionally as it is now? What if Murli took the shot earlier or later where the sun was in a different spot? Well, the answer to both questions can be answered by another photo of Murli’s, Matri Mandir. While both are good photos, the framing of the shot above limits our view, and therefore creates a much more interesting shot.
To see more of Murli’s work, please check out his photosream.