Archive for category The Wordbook

The Wordbook: Visual Nodes


Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

 A visual node is a part of a photograph that attracts attention and thereby extend influence on the reading of the whole photograph. According to Rudolf Arnheim , whom we lean on here, there are various ways to build nodes in pictures. Nodes often interact with visual vectors. (See Vectors).

Here are the nodes mentioned by Rudolf Arnheim:

1. Using sheaves of radii.
Lines extending from a visual center.

A photo showing the sun is a good example. And the light rays extending from it.

2. Visual dynamics in the opposite direction

Meaning something coming from outside with the movement towards a center.

People sitting around a table could be one example.

3. Crossings

Quite literally something crossing.
Crossing a pair of legs could be an example.

4. Knots

Extend a crossing with more crossing elements and you have a knot.

5. Superposition

When something is on top of another thing.
Like a pair of hands resting on a knee. Could even be your own knee.

6. Grasping or surrounding.

Holding on to something or surrounding something.
Holding someone else’s hand. Simple as that.

 7. Contractions

Something contracting.

If you cross you arms over yours breast, that could be it.

Nodes can be used in reading photographs as well as in building them. The examples above are not exhaustive but a beginning. Using of nodes in street photography will over time filter which are relevant and which are not.  There are special nodes of the human body. We will reserve a separate post for that. Coming up later.

Why bother with nodes you may ask. With words comes visions and is it not possible to talk about elephants unless you have seen one. You have probably seen images that you like without really knowing why. The existence of nodes can be one of the reasons for appreciating photographs.[1]

There can be plenty of nodes within a single image. Take a look at the photo above and see if you can find some.

Good luck with it.

[1] Reference: Rudolf Arnheim: The Power of The Center, University of California Press 2009.[1]

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.


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