Visual Literacy An overview of visual concepts presented throughout the semester Created by Hannah J. Goulding
Gestalt Processing Gestalt principles are permeating every aspect of the visual world. This image employs gestalt principles of:
In using this, the advertisement conveys the image of a woman becoming a lion at the zoo. The idea here is that in going to the zoo, the woman will become a part of the wild and “blend in” with the animals.
Gestalt Processing This image employs gestalt principles of:
Gestalt processing allows the mind to process images that wouldn’t actually exist—we make the images work in our heads through a psychological process called perception. Here, the advertisers have replaced what would be baby poop with an image of a farm, implying that the food is so organic that even the baby’s poop will reflect its organic origins.
Visual Elements A Graphic Vector is one which guides the eye in a direction purposed by the advertisement. Here, a graphic vector is used in the design of the advertisement to draw the eye first from the monkey to the man, suggesting the idea of evolution. Next, the eye should register the tool placed next to the final product of evolution, suggesting a relationship between the evolution of the man and the evolution of the tool.
Visual Elements An index vector is used more obviously to direct movement of the eye across an image. The most common example of an index vector is an arrow, but other forms are more subtle, like a person looking or pointing somewhere.
Visual Elements Axial balance occurs in an image with symmetry or formal balance. The key to remembering this is that the image rotates around an axis or can be flipped across an axis and still maintain its original form or integrity. Here, the two orange halves are placed on the same visual plane and are flipped across the vertical axis.
Visual Elements Asymmetrical Balance is a lack of symmetry between the two objects. Here, asymmetrical balance is used to draw attention to both of the speech bubbles, making them both “pop” as well as drawing the eye down lettering of evolve. Using this as visual cues, the advertisement then hopefully draws the reader’s eye to the actual text, being the primary goal of the image.
Perspective 1 point perspective is characterized by its single vanishing point- hence the name, 1 point. Here, the two lines can be drawn on either side of the tree and eventually meet as the tree appears to get smaller as it approaches the “horizon line” Here, the horizon line and vanishing points are drawn in to meet at one point.
Perspective 2 Point Perspective has 2 vanishing points. 2 point perspective places the viewer at the corner of something, allowing the full image to be seen. This is extremely useful in showing off architecture or a building—wouldn’t the full image of a building with more angles and viewpoints seem more attractive than a straight on image of one side of a building?
Perspective 3 point perspective is the point of view in which you can see 3 different vanishing points: 1 vertical and the 2 horizontal points. This occurs in the form of worm’s eye view or bird’s eye view. Worm’s eye view is used in filming to create the illusory perspective of the viewer looking up to something, making an object look outstandingly tall and strong and the viewer subordinate. Here, worm’s eye is used to draw the perspective to the subject of the advertisement: the now clean drain.
Color and Light Warm color schemes do not include blue at all, and. For example, a color scheme that includes "warmer" colors may have orange, yellow, and red-orange in it. Cool Color Schemes do not include red at all and convey a sense of peace, tranquility, and often is used in reference to oceanic landscapes. "Cooler" colors are green, violet, light blue, etc. Colors used together in a color scheme are meant to be aesthetically pleasing.
Color and Light A complementary color scheme is composed of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as blue and orange, (shown here) red and green, purple and yellow. Complementary color schemes have a more energetic feel—because they are opposite each other on the color wheel, certain colors used in combination will make the ad “pop.” The high contrast between the colors creates a vibrant look, especially when used at full saturation, as in this photo. Key Points:
High contrast & energetic feel
Uses colors opposite each other on the color wheel:
Blue and Orange
Red and Green
Purple and yellow
Color and Light Symbolic use of color is used semantically to convey an idea that stands behind a certain color or a combination of colors. Examples:
Red, white, and blue
Pink (to signify “girl”)
Blue (to signify “boy”)
Rainbow (to signify gay pride
Would symbolic use of color be advantageous in an international advertisement? Why or why not? Hint: think about the cultural connotations of color, what makes it symbolic?
Color and Light An attached shadow is one which is caused by and attached to the subject. This usually occurs in chiaroscuro lighting, where there is a high rate of falloff and shadows are created on the contours of the face or body.
Color and Light A Cast Shadow is one which is caused by the presence of light behind the subject, thus casting a shadow of the subject onto another surface. Here, a cast shadow is caused by the presence of light provided by the sun on the picket fence (subject), which casts a shadow onto the grass.
Color and Light Silhouette lighting is a person, object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless, black interior. Here, the people are backlit and thus appear dark against a lighter background.
Color and Light A Monochromatic Color scheme is composed of varying tints, tones, and hues of one color. This color scheme can also be used to create a focal point. Key concept: Mono=one
Semiotics An Indexical sign is one which is held within the image and suggested but is not overtly presented. The indexical sign is reached through chains of signification.
Semiotics A Visual Metaphor is one which an image stands for an idea. Here, the play dough knife is a visual metaphor for the concept that play-dough is the safest toy for kids, reinforcing the visual by a slogan at the bottom, “safe no matter what you make.”
Photography: Stop action Stop Action refers to the camera capturing an image while it is moving, also called a freeze frame, with very little blur of the subject. This implies movement in the photo.
Photography Panned action is created by “panning” the camera left or right, following a moving object. The object will appear fairly sharp while the background will be blurred, thus implying motion. Panned action is most often used in sports photography, like car racing or track running.
Photography: Fish eye Fish eye is created using a wide-angle lens to create an image that is hemispherical, or almost seems to bend in a circle. Fish eye photos are known for being distorted and unique looking.
Photography: Soft Focus Soft Focus has very soft rather than sharp outlines. It’s not the same as out of focus, or about degrading the image, but rather about subtly changing the image to convey a desired interpretation to the viewer.
Common in fashion and advertising images, but are not widely used for landscape photography.
Can enhance the mood of an image by creating a soft, glowing atmosphere, and can be particularly effective for backlit subjects.
Photography: Low Camera Angle A Low camera angle is a shot taken from below the eye-line looking upward, used to establish the viewer as positioned below the subject. This inferior placement makes the subject appear extremely tall and powerful, often used to portray it/them as bigger, stronger, or more noble.
Photography A High Camera Angle is established when the camera is above and looking down upon the subject. This creates the opposite feel of the low camera angle, instead connoting asmaller, less significant/scary subject. The subject gets consumed by their setting - they become part of a wider picture.
Photography: ECU An Extreme Close up fills the screen with the details of the subject, containing only the head or even zooming in on a part of the face, picking up detail that the naked eye normally wouldn’t see. Used in photos and film, an extreme close up signifies high drama, emotion, and intensity.
Photography: CU A Close Up includes the subject’s head, shoulders, and the upper part of the torso.
Close ups will show lots of detail but none of the context or outside scenery.
In film, Close-ups are used for distinguishing main characters, especially as a means of indicating their importance upon introduction.
Photography: MS In a medium shot (MS), actors are usually photographed to show them from the waist up. An MS is enough to show facial expressions, gestures, or movements of the subject.
Used most often as a transition between a long shot and a close up shot.
After the scene location has been established with an LS, the camera is moved closer to the main subject or a longer focal-length lens is used to bring the main element of the scene into full frame or near full-frame size
An MS shows some of the surroundings but the focus is still on the person or subject.
Photography A Long shot includes the entire scenery and background as well as the entire body of the subject(s).
An LS is used to acquaint the audience with the context of the scene: not just who but also what is happening and where they are located.
Here, you can not only see that there is a little boy, but that there are three boys (who) going fishing (what) at the ocean (where).
Photography: ELS An Extra Long shot is one which captures the broad overview of the image, such as the entire setting. This is generally used in film as an introductory shot: for example, you don’t start off Lion King with a close up of Simba—you start it with an extra long shot of the whole animal kingdom to ground the viewer in a setting.
Multiple Exposure Multiple exposureis a technique of combining two or more individual exposures/photographs, transposed onto one another to create a single photograph. The exposure values may, or may not be identical to each other. Identical (sort of) exposure values Varying exposure values
Photography: Juxtaposed Images A Juxtaposed image is one with two different visual aspects that come together to create a visual metaphor, or a third effect. Here, the elephant is juxtaposed with the eggshell to imply that the rooms at Crowne Plaza are “Larger than expected.” The small qualities of the egg shell in juxtaposition with the extremely large qualities of the elephant create this alternative conclusion.
Gender images As a review, the gender poses presented by Goffman in this course were:
ritualization of subordination
Women are suboordinate to men and comparable to children
Here, the woman has little clothing on while the man is fully dressed, she is withdrawn from the photo, and is placed underneath the male.
Gender images Here, the woman is standing in a manner which is unstable and therefore more feminine because she is vulnerable. Additionally, she is touching the umbrella handle in a phallic way and displaying again feminine touch on the top of the umbrella.
Images of economic status Here, the watch, nice jeans, suit jacket and scarf all function as Visual Markers of wealth. This means that they imply that the product being sold, the MacBookPro, is generally reserved and targeted toward the upper class. Though these visual markers are not overt, they are a connotation for wealth.
Images of economic status This image contains multiple Visual Markers of poverty, being the surroundings and the clothing. The irony here is that it also contains a contrasting visual marker of wealth, being the brand name sunglasses. It is because of the function of visual markers of economic status that this image functions—immediately, the viewer registers “what is wrong with this image,” leading to the text and comprehension of the advertisment. This combination of economic status markers creates a juxtaposed image: the rich sunglasses on the person in need signifies that the money spent on sunglasses could have gone to much more important things, like nourishment and proper clothing .
Images of economic status The visual markers here that signify Middle class is a combination of the family—two kids and an average suburban, the woman is not wearing extensive jewelry and they are all dressed casually. Visual markers are most identifiable when they are contrasted—rather, it is easier to identify them when looking at this photo versus the previous photo of the Mac Book Pro.