Grouping Shapes for Compositionedit
It’s already pretty clear in the original, but I threw some filters on in photoshop just to see how the shapes could be grouped even more simply into black and white. You can see how the brown of the man’s suit in the background groups in easily with the black suits of the woman and the man on the right.
Notice how there is one large shape of dark values, we might say, values below a certain threshold, formed by the clothing of the three people. They all blend into one single shape. Then there is the large shape of the white background, which blends in with the light of the woman’s blouse, and the hands and heads of the men.
Now, some of these could go either way, particularly the areas with the most amount of detail, depending on how you think of it, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Leyendecker keeps his values within a certain range in order to create these, abstract shapes, large and small. It’s these abstract shapes that hold the composition hold together. Then, where there is detail, in the faces, the hands and the cage at the bottom of the screen, that’s where the eye can focus and spend some time.