Baseline

This element of composition is about the importance of giving subjects a 'base'. Here, let us think of 'base' as 'the bottom or supporting part of a subject'. There are many subjects in the sea that are anchored to the reef in some way. How much of the base we include can make or break the composition. If we do not consider the base of the subject before we press the shutter, it can appear that it has been 'cut off'. The eye often has a need to see the base of a subject to give it context. On the other hand, if we include too much 'base' it will impact on the viewer as wasted space.

With a recognisable subject on land, such as a person, animal or motor car, if part of the subject is cut out of the frame our 'inner eye' subconsciously attempts to complete the part that is missing — we effectively 'fill in' the person's legs or the rear end of the motor car because we know what to expect. Where a subject is not so instantly recognisable, our 'inner eye' has trouble filling in these missing parts.

fig. 7.25 This was at the start of this session and is a good illustration of too much 'base'. That's OK, I was moving in gradually to determine its behaviour and reaction to me. Muck bottoms such as this make it far easier to move in and get close than a reef. Tulamben, Bali. Same info as Fig. 7.20.

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