Point, Line, Plane: Sample Post by Kristin Becker

Here the same building block (a cement cinderblock from an outdoor patio) is used to illustrate point, line, plane, and volume.

I think it’s fascinating how the same component of a composition can function as point, line, or plane, depending on how it is pictured, including how it is framed by the camera and how it relates to other compositional elements. In my first photograph, the cinderblock, which I photographed in my backyard, functions as point, marking a position in space. In this case, it does seem at least somewhat significant because it looks different from—or stands in contrast to—its surroundings, a textured surface of dry grass, leaves, and dirt.

Here I primarily see a line.

In the second image, the positioning of the individual cinderblocks makes the viewer perceive them primarily as a line. Lines may be implied or obvious, and in this case the form is quite apparent because the line is bold and thick, as well as very straight. It draws the eye upward, toward the top of picture frame, because it tapers, becoming thinner, and also seems to recede in space as it moves upward, or backward. The viewer can still tell that the line is made of individual blocks, or points, but the dominant form is a line.

 

 

 

Here I see two planes that almost touch.

In the third image, my goal was to make the two cinderblocks appear primarily as planes, large flat surfaces with specific outlines and shapes. Attention is draw to angled edges of each shape, as well as their straight top and bottom edges. This view of the cinderblocks is encouraged by the tightly cropped camera frame: Only a small amount of negative space (grass and leaves and dirt) is visible around the blocks, and the left and right edges of the frame even crop out parts of the shapes. This encourages the viewer’s understanding that they extend into space. (There is also some interesting interplay between positive and negative space in this image, since the negative space between the cinderblocks may also be perceived as a positive shape: A long, skinny triangle.)

Here I see a 3-dimensional shape.

The last image draws attention to the fact that the cinderblock is actually a 3-dimensional object: it has volume, including height, width, and depth. In this case the camera angle allows the viewer to perceive linear perspective. The viewer can also finally see how the cinderblocks may be stacked to build a 3-D structure. The weight and texture of the cinderblock is also very visible in this photograph, since it takes up a great deal of the camera’s available frame.

 

 

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