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The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs by David duChemin

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Lesson 40. Understand Visual Mass

Every element in the frame exerts a certain amount of pull on the eye of the reader. Our eyes, and by that I really mean our brains, our attention, are drawn to some things over other things. Elements that pull the eye are said to have visual weight, or mass. Understanding this, and playing with it, is key to almost any further conversation about composition. You can’t, for example, talk about balance without talking about the relative visual pull of the elements in the frame. Of all the concepts I ever wrapped my mind around in photography, this one has made the greatest difference to me.

Some things pull at our attention more than others. As an example, generally speaking our eyes are pulled by larger objects ...

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