Posts Tagged gestalt factor

Then Go Strain Yourself

Defactor On The Beach © Knut Skjærven

Defactor On The Beach © Knut Skjærven

One point comes with a special interest. It goes like this:

Gestalt psychology is a descriptive discipline. Hypotheses are backed by clinical tests and backed by simple common sense. It describes the way of the world and gives good explanations of how people perceive visual stimuli.

Yes, an understanding of what gestalt factors are, how and why they work is imperative knowledge for people who deals with visual communication. Like photographers. Like street photographers.

But gestalt factors are tools. No more no less. They are not end results. It is up to the individual photographer to understand and use these tools.

Tools in themselves have no value unless you put them to clever use.  The factor of proximity, the factor of similarity, the other factors point to roads of creativity but are no end destinations.

Learning about gestalt factors in street photography gives extra benefits because once you know how perception works, you are in a position to create visual tension by going against the factors.

Every gestalt factor has its tension mode. The tension mode of proximity is non proximity; the tension mode of similarity is non similarity; the tension mode common fate is non common fate, and so on.

However, you will never know what tension mode is before you understand what the non tension mode is. You need to know the way of the world before you start to stain it (create tension).

Creating itching images is not always best served by plainly following gestalt factors. In some cases you get better off by straining the way of the world. By doing this you defactor.

The expression gestalt vision covers both these approaches. Both the tension mode and its opposite. Both the gestalt factors and the way to strain them by defactoring.

What does a defactored photograph look like then? Translated to the world of street photography? As there are many gestalt factors defactors can have many variants. Let me suggest a few.

In proximity introduce non proximity; in similarity introduce non similarity; in common fate introduce non common fate; in closure introduce non closure. I already suggested this.

All of this is pretty easy because all of us do defactored images all the time. They are often more easily taken than factored images.

This being so why all this fuzz about it?  Why mention it as all? For the same reason I mention gestalt factors. Setting words to things sharpen our senses. You cannot see things that have no meaning. Things that have no names have no meaning. That’s why.

Look at the photo above. It is there to make a point: There are two sets of similarities in the photograph. The first one is the sand. The second one is the chairs. You can strain both by, so to speak, breaking the visual waves, and introducing, as in this case, a human being.

It is not a question of which photo is better: the strained one or the non strained one without the woman (you have to imagine this). The matter of the fact is that the two are different. In stead of one tool you have been given two.

Think about it. Then go strain yourself.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, July 11, 2013.

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The Toolbox As Gestalt Factor

© Knut Skjærven

© Knut Skjærven

© Knut Skjærven

© Knut Skjærven

Yes, it is a good morning.

I just solved a problem that has puzzled me for a very long time. Or someone solved it for me.

Preparing the work slides for the first workshop in June, I had met this challenge:

How could it be that gestalt factors, normally considered innate ideas governing the reading, and the possible making, of street photographs, suddenly could pop up with a factor based on past experience or habit?  I could not get that to fit.

I needed to go back to where Max Wertheimer explains this. He sais: “Unlike the other principles with which we have been dealing, it is characteristic of this one that the contents A, B and C are assumed to be independent of the constellation in which they appear. Their arrangement is on principle determined merely by extrinsic circumstances (e.g. drill).”

He continues: “Often arbitrary material can be arranged in arbitrary form and,  after a sufficient drill, made habitual.”

This was just amazing. All became clear.

I don’t think for a minute that a toolbox ever can be an innate idea automatically passed on from generation to generation, but I do think that this toolbox, as any other toolbox in any field or craft, can be internalised to such an extend that the tools in there execute automatically as a spine competence.

Is that form of learning not what we all strive for? Being competent at something and executing what we are good at with the least of efforts?

I think it is.

Now I know that Street Photographer’s Toolbox can in fact become a gestalt factor for street photography. It is only a questions of drilling. And that is just what we do.

Feel free to engage in the task suggested in the first slide above. And then do the drilling. You have to find out how. Get into the habit.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen April 5, 2013.

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Gestalt Factor Direction

For the moment I need to refer you to the post on Direction in barebones communication.

Good luck with it.

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Gestalt Factor Closure

For the moment I need to refer you to the post on Closure in barebones communication.

Good luck with it.

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Gestalt Factor Similarity

For the moment I need to refer you to the post on Similarity in barebones communication.

Good luck with it.

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Gestalt Factor Proximity

For the moment I need to refer you to the post on Proximity in barebones communication.

Good luck with it.

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Gestalt Factor Experience Or Habit

For the moment I need to refer you to the post on Experience or Habit in barebones communication.

Good luck with it.

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