Variations. Most solid balance points are the result of two surfaces coming together, ideally one concave and one convex, so the two rocks essentially hug one another via 3 (minimum) contact points per balance point.
Here, the top rock has a tiny concave (cupped) balance point on the ‘tip’ it appears to sit on. notice how that balance point requires a certain angle for connection in order to display the way i chose. that angle can be after one rock, or after a combination of 10 rocks. but it must be that angle, and ideally with a complimentary convex surface.
finding balance points to work with is another huge dimension of the creative process that goes mostly under the radar in photographs. the natural shapes of the rocks are really the only limitation i have to work with. basically, how far i can thrive through any given set of circumstances. something that develops with practice and experience. it is my view that the smallest balance points begin appearing naturally in proportion to the present skill level of the practitioner. when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, in a sense.
one of the most useful points of advice i’ve encountered thus far for advancing skill was a bit from Bill Dan a few years ago. once you finish a creation, spend some time looking at it. from as many angles as possible. then take it apart and build it again with a slight complication (more rocks, smaller balance points, counterbalancing, etc) … some of my favorite creations come together on the first variation (actually they are all perfect in and of themselves)… but very often, despite the challenge of the first variation, i risk the fading sunlight to dismantle and rebuild in a more precise way. something just a little bit more unbelievable than before…
out of the three variations here, my personal favorite is the middle. the third was more of a last minute whim.