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What do you like to use most for creating a main focal point in an aquascape?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What do you like to use most for creating a main focal point in an aquascape?

I find that I like to use driftwood branches to draw the eye into a layout. I find the lines created by branches extremely useful at leading the eye to other areas of an aquascape.

Carlos
 

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Wow, that's kind of a tough question Carlos. I guess it all depends on the type of aquacape, but my favorite technique is to use empty space framed in such a way to draw the eye into a black painted background.
 

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I like this question because it deals with pure design and you can't get this question wrong. I voted for "I don't believe in focal points" at least for my own tank because I try to keep the eyes constantly moving around the composition. I'm using a new curved piece of driftwood that if used in the center of the tank would become a big center piece, so I moved it off center to the right so the driftwood's curve brings the eye back into design. This also allows me to cram in as many different plant species that I can fit into my 29 gallon.
I also like that people use negative (empty) space. Maybe if I ever get another tank I'll try that approach.
 

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One interesting thing I found. When I was a teenager I developed an interest in photography. I discovered and was told that I had a very good talent for composition. People would look at a photograph of mine and comment on my use of lines to compose a photograph. People often think of composition in terms of solid objects, while I tend to study the lines the objects make: edges of roads, pipes, the horizon, etc.

I was also drawn to the photographs of Edward Weston who I think had the best talent for photographic composition of any photographer ever. He used an old 8x10 view camera so he usually only had one chance to make a good photo so his perception of the final picture had to be there before he exposed the negative. Most difficult when the view in a view camera is upside down.

Anyway, Charis Wilson his wife and assistant, discovered one day that the key to the composition of most of his photographs was to look at the edges of the photograph and consider only the lines that met at the borders of the picture. These lines as they traveled through the composition were what led the eye from outside the photo to the various parts of the composition within the photo, and also separated various contrasting areas. Its a lot easier to do this with a black and white photo, but this method of balancing composition will also work in a color scene as well.

I just realized that there is a parallel between this idea and some of the ways people use driftwood in an aquascape. I think of a piece of driftwood as more of a series of lines in the aquascape that lead the eye, balance the different parts of the composition, etc.

I think Carlos probably agrees with this.

Steve Pituch
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Right on, Steve! A "centerpiece" should not just draw the eye on that spot. The centerpiece also functions for leading the eyes to other areas for exploration.

The centerpiece, for this reason, should never be in the center. It should be positioned slightly to one side. I like to follow the golden ratio when positioning my focal point.

Carlos
 

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It is also important that straight strong lines do not force the viewers eyes to shoot off the page (aquascape) or to an empty uninteresting part of the composition. Well placed plants are the perfect element to curve the eye back into the composition.
Discussing the technical stuff and things like algae is all fine and good, but this is the stuff that I love. It's Zen to me. I hope to be able to share some pictures, and maybe even enter a contest in a few weeks!
 
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