EXERCISE – Rhythms and Patterns

The two compositional concepts used here are in my opinion the hardest to understand when you first come to this exercise. Once you understand the difference it becomes easier to spot these traits when out shooting.

The problem is that both Rhythm and Pattern involve repetition, the thing I found hard to get right was that pattern is static and rhythm flows Freeman says “there is a visual beat to pictures containing a repetitive theme”, “Visually repetition comes across in two ways: as a rhythm and as pattern. the difference between them is that rhythm is to do with movement across a picture while pattern is static” further he clarifies that rhythm is “more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture)

If we think about the way the human brain processes an image usually there are elements that draw the eye such as light areas or particularly striking colours. the way that the use of rhythm works is for the eye to hit the image and to be drawn along a path to the subject.

The image I have selected to demonstrate this is a path through the japanese garden at West Green Gardens. In this image the eye hits the image on the very bright pathway in the centre of the image and is drawn to the vanishing point at the end of the path by the rhythm of the repeating trees along its edges. More subtle is the sinuous for of the two red dragons running behind the tress that also form a type of rhythm leading the eye in the same direction. A tall tree frames the vanishing point and a sense of mystery exists as to what may be beyond the path.

Rhythm was as I said previously the hardest thing to get my head around at the start of this part of the course, by the end I am starting to see rhythm everywhere I look. for me this was one of the more profound learning experiences in this part of the module.


Pattern was much easier to understand at the outset, although I find that things I would previously classified as a pattern are in fact a rhythm. Pattern deals with repetition again but is static, there is often no path for the eye to follow, where a pattern is used it typically fills the frame and leave nowhere for the eye to fall out of its repetition.

The following image of an old roof also taken at West Green Gardens, has a repeating pattern formed by the shape and placement of the tiles. It reminds me of waves in the sea, there is almost a rhythm to it although there is not the temptation for the eye to move through this image as there is no subject for the eye to end on. By tightly cropping the fame to the roof tile pattern this image remains a pattern for me and narrowly misses becoming a rhythm.


This exercise was for me one of the best for learning something new, the idea of rhythm and pattern has such useful applications in the art of composition, and are important elements of making an image exciting and interesting to the viewer.

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