A – Z Story Challenge: J is for Juxtaposition

The concept of placing subjects that contrast alongside each other is a key photographic compositional tool. It adds tension to the photograph thus creating interest for the viewer. This effectively means placing opposites within the frame – small and large, old and new, light and shade. It can also be a more subtle contrast – using colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel. Here are a few examples…

A Suburban Terrace dwarfed by 132kV powerlines.

Living in the Shadow
Living in the Shadow

Living and Dead, tall and short, yellow and blue.
Dead Tree
Dead Tree

Colours from the opposite side of the colour wheel.
Red and Green
Red and Green

Is this last one a Juxtaposition? Over to you…
Bus and Pub
Bus and Pub


  1. Martin, that bus is much bigger and far more alien than any coach and horses coming around that bend! A beautiful set of photos, the light, colour . . . even with the power lines and satellite dishes in the first one!

    1. Thanks Patti 🙂 Reputedly a coach and horses might well have met Dick Turpin here. Not sure how the modern bus driver would respond to being asked to ‘stand and deliver!’ Probably by saying something like ‘Take it mate – I’ve had enough for this shift anyway!’ 😉

  2. I was not aware of this “Juxtaposition” concept. Thanks a lot for sharing it with all of us. The dead tree and the bus and the pub are my favorites. Beautiful pictures. 🙂

    1. Thanks Arindam – Have a Google for Juxtaposition in photography and you will find several websites that cover the subject in more depth than I have 🙂

  3. I didn’t have a conscious understanding or appreciation for the concept of juxtaposition in my photography. This was an enlightening idea. I love the photo with the dead tree. It really is riveting. Thank you, Martin. Debra

    1. Thank you Debra 🙂 I suspect that a lot of people subconsiously juxtapose subjects within their images anyway – but knowing of the concept will encourage its use more creatively. There are a number of pages on the web about Juxtaposition in photography. It’s worth having a read 🙂

  4. Fascinating post and FAB photos, Martin.

    I definitely sense juxtaposition in the last photo ~ old buildings, new bus, white buildings, red bus, stationary building, “moving” bus, square buildings, rounded bus, opaque buildings, “see through” bus.

    1. Thanks Nancy 🙂

      Yes, there are a number of types of Juxtaposition in that last photo but they’re all subtle rather than blatant. The bus certainly seems to be an intruder upon the scene. The 210 used to be a single deck route but converted to doubledeckers about 5 years ago – probably for operating convenience rather than any significant growth in passenger numbers. I suspect that a single deck vehicle would have had less impact in the image.

  5. Again with the ‘bus-load’ of talent, Martin! Wonderful!
    (It’s interesting how that one limb in the dead tree almost looks to be touching the live one off in the distance… almost like a passing of the torch, perhaps?)

    1. I dunno about talent Bob – put it down to years of practise! Those trees do have a connection – they are survivors of a hedgerow that used to divide the field into two. The hedge was grubbed out many years ago to bring improved efficiencies in mechanised farming. Sadly, it also had the effect of reducing the habitat for our wildlife.

      1. The mood of the viewer can have a lot to do with how your photo is interpreted… That’s the difference between creating an image and taking a snapshot 😉 Artistic images create different reactions – snapshots are little more than a record of a moment in time (valuable though that is).

    1. Thanks Fergiemoto – it’s usually advisable for passengers to breathe in as the bus negotiates the Spaniards otherwise there could be a sound of metal striking stone, so it certainly only just fits 😉 I’d agree about old and modern 🙂

  6. I’m very used to juxtaposition in contrasting images — and in my writing, I’ve used it as well.
    But the idea of juxtaposition WITHIN a single photo never occurred to me. Thanks — it’s always exciting to be roused by a new idea.
    BTW, re the bus on the Heath: Wide and Narrow
    And the red and green is sensational.

    1. Hi Judith – Thank You. I always knew that last shot would ask people to think about Juxtaposition because it can be read in so many different ways 🙂 I certainly hadn’t thought of Wide and Narrow myself so that’s a good one! I can’t admit to using the concept of Juxtaposition all the time (many of my shots don’t allow time to think beyond framing because of the speed at which things are happening!) but now and then it’s something that stands out as I frame the shot and I take advantage of the frisson it brings to the image.

      I appologise for not passing by as often as I should – my son is going through the process of exams and school visits as he prepares to move to his secondary school. It’s something that this country seeks to make as difficult as possible 😦

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