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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm Hanzo and I'm a plantaholic...

(This is where you guys go, HI HANZO)

I'v been into the art of aquascaping for over a year now, and littel by littel I'm making progress. But my problem is with focal point, I just cant get a clearly deffined focal point going in my tank. When I startet aquascaping I read that it was very important with contrast in the tank. Plants should be plantet with as much contrast as possible, in tearms of leaves shape and color. I adopted this, and have been very consitent on putting red and green plants togheters to make as much contrast as possibel. But this also gives me a big problem with a clear focal point. Since I use several kinds of red plants in my tank, and usually has so much of them that they make up 95% of the aquascape the focal point gets lost in the jungel.

So, my question is this. Should I limit the number of red plants that I use down to just one big healty red plant in the golden section, and keep the rest of my plants on the green side, thereby limitind the amount of contrast, or is there something else that I'm missing? Kind of a dumb question I know :oops: But any and all advice would be nice 8)
 

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Hanzo said:
So, my question is this. Should I limit the number of red plants that I use down to just one big healty red plant in the golden section, and keep the rest of my plants on the green side, thereby limitind the amount of contrast, or is there something else that I'm missing? Kind of a dumb question I know :oops: But any and all advice would be nice 8)
"HI HANZO"

No. Let me show you a tank, It sounds similar to what you described.
It has the one red plant in the 'focal area'. It is overpowering the aquascape. It has too much 'focus'. Unfortunately I still don't know how to fix it but at least you can see the result of a tank the way you described it.

 

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Hanzo,

Having as much contrast as possible between plant groupings sounds like
a Dutch aquascaping technique. Didn't you want to follow a Nature
Aquarium style more closely? That said, even very intensely colored red
plants don't necessarily have to be focal points (although they could be).
Red plants can also behave as accents/areas of interest in an aquascape.
I will use a tank from the Taiwan Aquascaping contest as an example:



Notice the Ammania gracilis in the upper left hand corner. Although very
impressive, the aquascaper skillfully balanced the composition with the
very powerful mossy wood arrangement near the center of the tank
(which is the true focal point).



Again, in this aquascape, the aquascaper used some very bright splashes
of colors. However, yet again, the aquascaper used a very powerful
hardscaping arrangement (the rocks) to focus the eye primarily in that
area.

That said, I think you should try to break up the balance you've created
with the red-green-red. Try making one red plant really stand out slightly
off center. Or try using a hardscaping arrangement with wood or rock to
focus the entire scape and lead the eye to other areas of interest (like in
the first photo, notice how the branches swing the eye toward each side
of the tank). Another possible focal point is to open up the scape and
create a region of negative space (background).

Hope this helps,

Carlos
 

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Carlos,

I'm confused, I can't tell if you agreed or disagreed with me. I'm still trying to learn myself as it were. I'm sure you were trying to avoid it, ( I think everyone else was too :wink: ) but it's ok, my feelings won't be hurt.

Does this count as a feeble plea for help?
 

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Color me lost too. In every example you cited Carlos, I was immediately drawn to the redder plants. Could it be I have a red bias and nor realize it? A possible side effect of being a Ferrari race for for 30 some years? Maybe it's just that some people are drawn to what is considered a natural focal point and others of us are influenced by our own likes?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great replys!

SCMurphy, your aquascape was indeed what I was thinking of when I was typing my original message.

Carlos, right now im sitting on a laptop with the sun in my screen, so I have a hard time getting the pictures. But I also must admite that the red plants often gets the eyes attention, and as such I would say that they atleast work as a competition for the focal point. I could be fun to but this in a pole and see how people was voting as fare as focal point goes.

But I got this really great piece of driftwood that I will use for my next setup. I might try making parts of this a focal point, or using a really red plant as a focal point. I don't know really, time wil tell :D But I want to try a really by the book aquascape and see if I myself am more happy with it. It's really hard getting everything right, and when you finaly do it grows out and looks like just another jungel a week later :shock:
 

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Carlos? You out there?
 

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I'm coming, I'm coming. Yeesh. :)

Ok. Perform this exercise. Look at each of those tanks (one at a time). Close your eyes. Open them and stare at the very FIRST thing you see in that tank. Report back.

If you still see the red plant, then there are several possible explanations:

1) You are red plant happy. No matter where or how much red foliage is in the tank, your eye will fall on it like a rock.

2) The aquascaper didn't do a good job of balancing out the strong red plant groupings with an even stronger hardscaping arrangement.

Basically, what I'm saying is that you can still have red plants in an aquascape and not have them be your focal points. They can be skillfully used as accents as well that add to the overall presentation rather than detract.

Carlos
 

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Tank #1 I was drawn first to the grouping of pinkish plants slightly to the right of center. I think I can attribute that to being red happy and that was the closest red to the center where I think one's eye tends to fall.

Tank #2 Again toward the red grouping slightly left of center. Then my eye is drawn down to the the hardscaping , from there the void in the lower left. This reinforces both of my observations from Tank #1.

Doing the same with Sean's tank I am immediately drawn to the splash of red, barely noticing the rock at first. Possibly due to the coloration of the rock, it has a tendency to melt into the plants in my eyes.
 

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#1.... The red plant frames the bright green plant for me, I see the idea of an accent.

#2....Because of the size of the picture my eyes just end up on the red plant. It is too bold in the center of the tank.

My example....The red pulls my eyes right onto the rock. Surprised the heck out of me I was expecting to end up on the red plant.

tsunami said:
I'm coming, I'm coming. Yeesh. :)

Carlos
I'm sorry, I was worried you had missed our cries for help. I did wait five days before bugging you. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think the pictures are to small, my eyes gets the whole thing and the red plants are the part that stick out and get my attention. Could very well be that this would turn out different if it was sitting in front of the tank. But you point is well taken carlos, and I will try to incorporate some of this in my next setup, due sometime this month :)
 

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the eye's path

I think that one will first look at/near the center, then the eye will follow a path. That path will be following color or darkness. Or one, then the other, of course. Contrast is of secondary interest, and serves to separate one thing from the next. When the color is also the focal point of the tank, there is nowhere else to look, unless there are mysterious black spaces for the eye to investigate.

So, in the first picture that SCMurphy posted with the big red plant, the red is right on top of the focal point, so there is nowhere else to look. Removing the red plant and placing a small mound of orange/pink on the back right and a small spike or mound of red on the far left would create the eye movement that the tank lacks now. In fact, if I cover the lefthand side of the tank and just see the rock and red part, it actually is more satisfying.

In the two contest tanks, my eye is drawn in the first from the center down in the dark to the right, then up across the pink, then the red, then back to the blackness on the left and then right again. So a full sweep of the tank has been made. The second one also demands a full sweep, scanning the color then the darkness, but covering the full tank.

So, I think one should use color and contrast to mean more than red against green. Color is also green against black, bright against dim. Filled space against open space.

Likewise, contrast should include shape and form. Fine vs coarse, soft vs hard. Plant vs rock, wood vs stone.

Don't limit yourself to red vs green. You have more to work with than that.
 

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Re: the eye's path

anonapersona said:
So, in the first picture that SCMurphy posted with the big red plant, the red is right on top of the focal point, so there is nowhere else to look.
Actually it's a little red plant, in a ten gallon tank. :wink: I am studying your post. I think I am getting it.
 
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