Zenfolio | Dave Skinner Photography | August Challenge - Symmetry

August Challenge - Symmetry

September 03, 2012


[Note: I'm going over the limit of posting two photos this time.]

There is are various definitions for symmetry. In the art world anything with similar lines, objects, forms, colors, etc. that is emphasized visually can fit the role. Look in the mirror. Your face falls into the definition: two eyes of equal shape and size (hopefully); a perfectly centered nose with two matching nostrils (hopefully); a mouth that looks the same on each side; teeth that are aligned (I flunk on this one, though); cheeks, jawbone, ears - you get the picture. So a self-portrait would fulfill the Symmetry theme. I call facial a lot of other symmetry liberal or flexible symmetry. It doesn't have to be perfect.

And then there is the perfect symmetry that can be seen in architecture, perfect circles, snowflakes, checkerboards, and a lot of other God-made and man-made creations. (Please, no theological arguments here: I know God created man, too). I think this is what we think of first when we think of parallel or equidistant lines and balanced form. The tall skyscaper, the spiral staircase, the hot-air balloon, freeway lines, wine glasses.

Enough discussion. Our first entry is from Mr. Don. Here's the old restored Carnegie Library building in Paso Robles, a fine specimen of early 20th Century architecture. You could easily draw a line through the middle of the picture and find complimentary, matching designs on both sides of the building (except for the lettering, of course). The landscaping is even symmetrical. Now, if there were a nice big oak on the right . . . but that would take away the 'natural' setting and overall pleasing balance of the picture. [Note: we've now learned that the perfection of this picture's proportions was due to Don's having a little fun with us. None of us noticed his handiwork.]

He says, "If you are not familiar with the library, it has a basement with a stairwell entrance in front . . . The right side wing was flipped and pasted over the left side and to my amazement was almost a perfect fit. Cloning out the stairwell [and getting rid of the sunshine in the little tree] finished it off."



Here's the original shot:



I'm pretty sure Don took his second photo in Morro Bay. Note the various elements of symmetrical design: the kayak, the boards it's resting on, the railing and the railing iron work. So all of these elements are working together for this shot and none of them seem out of place. My favorite part of this capture is the old, weathered blue surfboard at the bottom. It adds complimentary color and a bit of mystery to the scene.



And who doesn't know where this is? The PG&E power plant in Morro Bay. I think this is the millionth photo taken of these stacks, Don! You win the prize! A no expenses paid trip to . . . you guessed it - Morro Bay.



Linda's pictures include the beautiful lines on a Ford Cobra. Here we have color as well as linear symmetry. These cars prove that men (and women) can appreciate high art. "It is my husband who is the car enthusiast. It was taken at the Hot August Nights car show in Lake Tahoe. He says it is 1967 (give or take a few years, we didn't take notes) Ford Shelby Cobra. I just liked the color, LOL."



Linda's second picture is a bit whimsical, but she likes whimsy. She says,"This other picture was Kerry's idea. LOL It's a bathtub toy from Greenbriar International, based in China. Kerry insists he went through at least a dozen before he found one that was reasonably symmetrical. Silly husband. Happy grandson!" Not perfectly balanced, but will still fit the 'flexible symmetry' definition.



"This was taken at Hearst Castle, in the billiards room. There was a lot of symmetry at Hearst Castle. Beautiful place." Thanks, Linda, for thinking of us while you were there!



From Hearst Castle to the Dunnihoo Castle and the living room lighting.



Sister Ginnie offered this mysterious underwater picture of the goldfish that ate Manhattan.



"Taken thru a cheap plastic kaleidoscope.  Not perfect, loosely symmetrical and fun," Ginnie says.  I see a blurry sophistication here and really like the colors. This is real thinking outside the box and inside the tube.



Dave's first entry was taken at the University of the Pacific in the quad, where there is a rose garden, a Roman column motif area, and this fountain. A slow shutter speed and fallen leaf add photo interest in an otherwise pretty boring picture. The concrete 'bricks' aren't perfectly symmetrical but are similar enough in size, shape and color to qualify.



Dave's entries included this flower from the zinnia bed at SJ Delta College. You can imagine the small, tightly curled petals getting ready to unfurl. Again, not perfectly symmetrical, but close enough.



Finally, a human being enters the challenge. Megen sent this picture of Rileigh at the pool - Arms, legs, ears, swimsuit - all fit the symmetry equation. Thanks, Meg.




Thanks to everyone for your wonderful additions to the Monthly Challenge. I know this can be a real chore once in awhile.

Next challenge: Self-Portrait. Yes, "vanity of vanities . . . all is vanity." But for this one, we want humble pie, if that's possible. This will involve a tripod and a timer on your camera (or someplace solid and safe for your camera to sit). We DON'T want the "hold camera at arms length" pose. Sorry. Take some time and think this through. Pretend you're taking another person's picture. Or actually take a portrait of someone else, using a tripod, then have them move and take their place using your timer. Should be fun --- and a little humbling, I hope. And do it in at least two locations (for the entries). Be creative. War-paint is acceptable, but no masks. You should be able to post these shots on Facebook. Ha!




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