Ambiguity & Closure

In all honesty one of the most beneficial things I have learned from McCloud’s book Understanding Comics would be that in order for an audience to be captivated with a visual it needs to have these two items, (along with a few other, but the emphasis will be on these two):




Ambiguity allows a person to see themselves within the comic or image, as though they could live in an alternative existence through the pages of that comic book or visual. By making the face of a character in the comic more vague (lacking detail), there is a creation of ambiguity so that the reader then begins to imagine what it would be like to be the character inside that creative endeavor. Or by making the photograph abstract it causes the viewer to interpret and discern what the image is trying to portray. This gives the reader a desire to finish the story, or continue to look on at the design. It also causes the reader to fill in the gaps mentally, by creating the scenarios in the “gutters” (the white space between the comic panes). That is called closure.

By creating a need for closure the human brain fills in the details that are missing. Such as the photo above: there is not a definitive answer to what it may be. It could be a hole in the floor (strange flooring), but none-the-less it could be a window to a barn or shed. When in reality it is the access panel to a grain conveyer. But if I had not told you that there would still be that ambiguity that would allow anyone to look on and try to create closure by solving the mystery of the image (there is a reason we become upset with the person defining the image if it does not turn out to be what we thought it was: it involves someone else taking our perception and distorting it, but this is a topic for another time). By creating a desire for closure through ambiguity it draws the readers attention and captivates their imagination! That is why I believe it is so important to design something that intrigues the audience, and will try to capture there innovative imagination.

No one will ever see that image the same way I do. They will not scan it with there eyes and notice the oxidization melting into the muted semi-glossy grey tin, that has hues of blue. And if they see what I just explained, it is through my description that has tainted their imagination from creating their own individual interpretation!

It is as simple as that; in order to induce a hunger for creativity there must be:

Closure & Ambiguity!

[Is there a reason I flipped the two words around from the beginning? You tell me...]

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art (pp…). New York: HarperPerennial.

Time and Closure

I think it is an understated experience that while one reads through the pages of a comic or comic book the concept of closure and time are crucial. How the writer portrays it cannot be significantly determined by the writer, whereas the reader is deemed the “master of time” or the curator of what goes on outside of the panels. It is an incredible concept that the reader has such power inside the “Gutter” (the empty space between comic panels of what might be considered a frame).

Another neat thing that can be interpreted in the gutter of a comic is the use of all five senses. The brain can fill that closure where visual cues have no control of what is going on. It is an intense thing to think about and will radically change the way I use closure in communication pieces as well as graphics and images.

I want to compare the gutter to the space outside the focal point in a photo, or the blank space of a graphic piece. My intentions will be to understand how I can give the viewer of my rendering that limitless power, and yet not make it so lucid that I cannot relay a message or keep the focus on a subject or promulgated idea.

In order to incorporate and implement this idea, I believe I will have to work on studying what makes something ambiguous enough that in between two pieces or thoughts it can give power to someone’s imagination, yet be able to convey a message as I deem necessary.

This daunting task will be one that can serve me well in the years to come just by advancing my angles, the way I look at things for the composition and how I can have this phenomena occur in the innovation that is to come.

Below is an example of an image that requires closure because the foreground and background are blurred due to the short depth of field caused by shooting a low aperture. The mind still completes what this image is and determines the importance of the background and foreground and decides whether or not it is an appealing image. By creating this closure I still give the reader a piece of mind that in fact it is more than likely what it looks to be, but there is the possibility that it is something other than grass or a bridge.

My Visual Instigation for a Semster of Innovation

A new semester means new smells, faces, classes and above all else new chances to change the static into the dynamic through visual cultivation of innovation! This may be a little out there, but remember without a push an object indefinitely stays in a fixed static stance, motionless with no real direction!

brick wall with sun gleeming off of the surface

Does this give you a different view? because it should!

Take a deep breath, step to the edge and lets plunge downward towards this helix of creativity in communication through imagery!  Our backs are no longer against the wall, but our nose is most definitely pressed against it to get a different view of this world!

Goals for this semester:

1. Be most creative in all of my endeavors; no exceptions!

I want to push my graphics, imagery and photography to levels I never knew existed! I want to see things in such a unique way it scares me! I want to push the envelope in my writing and write dangerously! This is the beauty of rhetoric. There are no limitations, only the constraints that I set  upon myself will hold me back. I want to thrust the blinders outward and be able to see the whole picture. If I can accomplish this then I know not only have I learned something, but I am refining my talents which excites me beyond measure!

2. I want to strive to bring out the best in everyone who comes into contact with my rhetoric!

I am not blind nor do I want to be because I know there are people more talented then myself, and I want to be a catalyst for those who will surpass me. I am not running a race or competing with others, because I have the perfect match to always strive to do better then. that is me! I want to find my value in the God I serve and the destructive course of always bettering myself! I want to be bent on pushing myself to the next level!

3. These gifts are not mine, but they were given to me by the Father, so how dare I resist in worshiping Him with them!

I will strive to praise Him in everything I do! Uttering every last breadth to the beauty that Thou canst do!

4. I intend on learning something from myself and something from others this year!

If I can be passionate about someone else’s desires and goals I can learn a little about myself and a lot about seeing life through other’s eyes, which in the end will open doors and new angles for my own obsession!

These are just a few of the goals that come to mind! I am sure there are a plethora of other goals, but this is a very good start! I am so excited for this semester so please join me as we once again take the static and turn it dynamic!

Bison vs. Cobbers


This gentleman was taken aback by the bluntness of the question of whether or not he exceeded the age of 40.  

A former Concordia Cobber by trade, Paul Wraalstad now works for NDSU as the Director of Operations in the Memorial Union.

After working for Concordia for over 10 years as the Director of Student Programming, this Norwegian decided to grow hooves and loose the husk with the new challenges that would come from trading campuses.

ProfileWhen asked what his favorite thing about working at NDSU, his response, “seeing all the great events put on by students.”

He said that events are a large enhancement to the college experience, and that the Memorial Union functions very differently then Concordia’s did in that way.

Some of his responsibilities at NDSU include making sure everything is prepared and ready for events. He makes sure the set up of tables, chairs and podiums are exactly the way they need to be.

One of his favorite events to tailor for is the Fashion and Design FABO event, because he enjoys seeing the students work.

Wraalstad said he did not always know he was going to be a Director for event set up, when he started in college he wanted to be a music teacher, but shortly switched to psychology.

What he currently does wasn’t  “ever on the list of things that came up on my career profile,” he said. But he enjoys the fact that he aides in helping students understand how great the programs at NDSU are.

He said that NDSU is a really cool place for the students if they take advantage of it.

Paul Wraalstad is 43 years of age, and has not lost any of his zeal for making students college experience stand out.

If It Sparks Action, Then Success Has Occured

If this next picture makes you feel hungry, my job as an artist has been accomplished!

The goal behind any work of art should be to incur action or persuade emotion through the use of senses! If the image below starts to make you hungry, then I feel I have shown a compelling enough image to successfully accomplish my goal!

If you have experienced any pains of hunger because of this photo, I am glad you are a normal human being. If not you may be a robot…

In all seriousness the reason art is impacting is because it can effect the five senses in one way or another. It can be persuasive in the way it recalls memories attached to the image. The only reason this is tantalizing is because you have tasted or seen all elements of this picture, the fries, the philly cheese steak! it is all memory recall that causes the salivating. But because it makes you feel something, it is an excellent piece of art!

Look Again

The mind is a powerful thing. It can render before the computer can, it will create before something can be published or printed. All of that can be done in just a blink of an eye. Have you ever thought how blessed we are to be able to mimic creation, through creative endeavors?

The Ever Creative God is the father of true beauty! God created us with intelligence and preferences. We were given life to worship the creator by reflecting the beauty he has sewn into our hearts outwardly. We truly establish just how grand a scale of things He had implemented through our rendition of worship and creativity.

There is so much beauty to be had if we just look around and see. Next time you think something is not beautiful; look again because the ultimate artist may have created that essence as perfect as it needs to be!

Sometimes we cast things aside with out seeing the true beauty. And in all honesty this is as convicting for me as I hope it is for you. I say that to truly change the way we look at at things. If we can see the beauty in the creation from the King, then we can worship with all our heart.

So I implore you, before you give up on something, before you give in on quitting… look again!


In photography timing can be everything! For instance the end goal of the series taken below was to capture the ammo casing ejecting from the .22 Cal. rifle.

All photos were images of a rifle being shot at a rifle range.

three part photoBecause I knew the objective I had, and I realized I would have to capture the action in the moment I was prepared to be in the right place at the right time.

I used a prime lens for this shoot. Canon’s 85mm prime with a max aperture of f/ 1.8 to be exact,  I had the camera shooting in full manual with an aperture of f/ 3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/1250 of a second. the camera was set to burst fire and the slapping of the mirror begun its onslaught.

I set myself up in the right spot, waiting for the action to take place. When I saw that his muscles tense up showing that he was going to shoot, I started my bout of button mashing (holding down the shutter button). At the end I was very impressed with the results.

The last part is being creative with what you get, and I feel this next photo captures that exotic feeling of this beautiful gun perfectly! I feel that this photo goes back to the thought of Legacy. If you are curious about that article, click the link to be directed back to that segment on Legacy.

What should be taken away from this small article:

  • Know your angle and objective.
  • know your camera.
  • Be ready for the shoot when you see the action gearing up to happen.
  • Allow your creativity to flow afterwards turning what is static into dynamic!
  • Give God thanks for the value he places in beauty and creativity!

“The reason something has not been captured or expressed just means you need to get out there and do it! True innovation starts with a desire to change something insignificant into something extravagant!”


Rim Lighting

Rim lighting is the strategic placement of luminescence behind the subject in order to make that subject embroidered from the background. It pops because it helps to define the outline of the subject. In the photo below, the purple lighting creeps up over the shoulder and around the arm, as well as on the cheek. That is all considered rim lighting!

The lighting from behind really exaggerates that there is a definitive line separating the subject from the background. It helps to make the subject stand out!

You can see again that the lighting falls on the left side from “intelligent” projectors (lights that can change color and design, but work like standard cans). The lighting falls onto the forearms and helps add color to catch the eye.

On the last photo with rim lighting you can see how the purple light encompasses the entirety of his head, giving him that true rim light look! It separates him from the background!

In all honesty it is in the eye of the beholder on whether standard lighting makes for better rim lighting or not. I felt that the purple helped to exemplar my point.

Rim lighting should be used as a practical tool for adding just that little bit of extra detail to the end product of any photoshoot.



Engagement Photos

With engagement photos, or photos for invitations to a wedding; you have to be fun, quirky and interesting. More often then not the biggest push is for creativity. This can come from the people taking the photo, or the people on the other end of the glass!

Either way as the consultant, you need to be attentive to the clientele and their needs and wants. Be respectful because this event is a precursor to an even greater event. Just because it is not the wedding photo shoot does not mean any less immaculate of a job can be accepted. The engagement photo shoot will more then likely earn the wedding photo shoot, either now or in the future.

In the world of event photography, rapport cannot overstate its importance. As a starving photographer, you need all the “street cred” you can get. The more credible you are as a photographer, the easier and more natural the photographs will turn out. In all circumstances the goal is to make the couple act as natural as possible. If the two subjects are tense because they are uncomfortable; it will show. Keeping the subjects relaxed and even laughing helps keep the mood light.

Be as innovative as possible, research other professional photographers and what they have done in the past for engagement shoots, and then make it your own. Tweak it in a manner that still has your dominant voice coming through the photo.

The biggest hint I can give you as a photographer would be: have fun, because if you are having fun and getting excited about the photo shoot; they will have fun and get excited about the photos as well!

In the end throw something crazy in the mix just so they will never forget you as their photographer. For myself I would ask if we could pray over the shoot beforehand, and then ask if we can pray over their marriage after hand!


If you know me… that is not even the crazy part. Just having me around for over two hours will drive you mad!

Now that is taking static service, and turning it into dynamic interactions!