Finding Balance

Ring-tailed Lemur, Berenty Reserve MADAGASCAR

Visual balance can sometimes be difficult to achieve in a photograph , but it can make the difference between a pedestrian portrait – and a more compelling one.

When I set out to photograph this wild Ring-tailed Lemur, for example, resting in a tree, I chose not to place him directly in the middle of the frame for one glaring reason: to have done so would have thrown off the picture’s balance. What’s more, it would have meant sacrificing the handsome curve of the branch he’s sitting on…

Try, for a moment, to imagine the picture with either one missing : the animal or the branch. In their current positions, both lemur and branch appear off-center and imbalanced when pictured by themselves. Together, however, they offer a counter-weight to one another. This is how balance works: by organizing different objects within the frame into a composition that is stronger than the individual elements.

I was thrilled when this lemur perched himself on this graceful branch – I knew immediately that it would create a harmonic arrangement. The addition of the thin layer of leaves at the top, however, was just a bonus – not critically affecting the design, but adding another element that helped place the animal in his habitat. The soft background, meanwhile, worked perfectly to highlight the foreground.  Sharp detail in the bushes behind the lemur would have been an unwelcome distraction.

All in all, a simple, but effective, portrait of a marvelous animal.

Nikon F100, 70-200mm Nikkor lens