Symmetry in Art & Photography - Mirror Images

byDr. Robert Berdan
April 30, 2010


Symmetry imples a sense of aesthetically pleasing proportionlity that implies balance. There are many different kinds of symmetry the simplest is bilateral symmetry where an image is duplicated from top to bottom or left to right. Photographers normally encounter this kind fo symmetry when photographing a landscape that is reflected off of calm water. This is referred to as relection symmetry or bilateral symmetry where the axis is a line that divides the picture. In instances where it does not occur naturally we can simulate bilateral symmetry using an image editing program like Adobe photoshop. You simply select half of the image with the marquee tool, copy it, paste it back onto the image then using the transform tool (Ctrl - T) flip the copied half of the image over. This simple technique can be quite a bit of fun to play with to see what you might get. If you do this with people you will find that a persons face will look significantly different depending on whether you copy and duplicate the left side or the right side since most of us have some asymmetries in our face. Below are a few landscapes, flora and fauna photographs that I have played with just to see what might result. Next time you are wondering what to do with some of your old photos try flipping them and see if you get a pleasing result.

bilateral symmetry in landscape by Robert Berdan

This photograph has bilateral symmetry from left to right and from top to bottom due to the refection of the landscape in water.

Bilateral symmetry in ferns by Robert Berdan

Fern - bilateral symmetry

Bilateral symmetry in ferns by Robert Berdan

When I flipped this photograph of ferns and rose petals there appears to be a monster face with teeth made of leaves.

Black neced stilts bilateral symmetry by Robert Berdan

Black necked stilt showing bilateral symmetry from left to right and top to bottom.

Morants curve forms a heart shaped track on flipping from left to right.

Landscape flipped to form bilateral symmetry - totem pole by Robert Berdan

This island scene from off the coast of British Columbia forms totem pole like subject with feet and arms.

Bilateral symmetry in landscape by Robert Berdan

West coast island landscape reflected bilaterally

Shrubby Cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa)


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