EXERCISE – FITTING THE FRAME TO THE SUBJECT
The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate the difference in the image and its impact on the viewer that can result from the way that the image is framed. It is also to enable me to check how accurately I can frame a subject by looking through the viewfinder. In order to demonstrate this I used 3 different subjects, a pot of flowers, a bush with artificial butterflies and a semi-tame jackdaw.
A general shot of the pot of flowers taken without a great degree of thought as to the composition of the picture except to ensure that the subject was within the frame.
This represents an attempt to fill the frame with the subject. I have noted that I was not 100% accurate with my framing as the top of the subject extends slightly outside the frame and the bottom of the subject does not quite meet the frame. Note to self – be more precise when framing your image in the viewfinder.
I have drawn back from the subject so that it takes less importance within the frame and can be seen in relation to its surroundings. In placing the subject at the centre of the frame rather than following the Rule of Thirds composition, the subject takes centre stage and rather dominates the image. Whilst the image can be seen within its environment and shows clearly where it is in relation to other objects around it, it does not fit into the scene as part of the surroundings. The brilliant blue of the pot stands out sharply against the surrounding green and the space around it highlights its isolation and gives it impact. In criticism, the flowers would appear to be slightly over-exposed.
I have now zoomed in on the subject to capture detail by focussing on a small area. This gives a very different view of the subject and a very different take on its characteristics.
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I chose a small bush decorated with artificial butterflies for Subject 2. This quick shot has by chance placed the bush approximately in the 2/3rds – 1/3rd position in line with the Rule of Thirds composition which makes for a more interesting picture than if it had been centred. Additionally, the paler colouration of the subject bush helps it to stand out against the darker background shrubs.
This image is an attempt to fill the frame with the subject. The shape of the bush does not allow the subject to touch the frame at the sides, only at the top and bottom. In this case the central positioning of the subject works quite well as it is lighter in shade than the background bushes and the presence of the coloured butterflies makes a good contrast with the greens of the surroundings.
Here I have pulled back from the subject so that it can be seen in relation to its surroundings. The couloured butterflies help to highlight the subject as does its light foliage.
Coming in close to focus attention on three of the butterflies provides a very different view of the subject. I chose the three butterflies because I was attracted by the balance of the two orange ones surrounding the central purple one. The line of the electric cable also serves to lead the eye through the picture.
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This shot of my semi-tame jackdaw was taken quickly of necessity! What works – I quite like the way that the reflection of the sheet in the window makes the dark bird stand out from the background. What doesn’t work – the dirty sheet in the foreground makes for an unsightly image and the presence of the bird feeders in the background is rather unsightly.however, having the subject looking to the left out of the picture adds interest as one wonders what he is looking at!
Here I tried to fit the subject to the frame rather unsuccessfully. Because of the shape of the subject I turned the camera on its side but in so doing I cut off the tips of the tail and wing. Note to self – be more careful when framing shots in the viewfinder! The depth of field was also insufficient to capture the head and tail sharply, only part of the back being in focus.
When taking this shot I stepped back from the subject so that it could be seen in its surroundings. Similar comments can be made as for Image 1 above. Having the bird feeders almost coming out of the bird’s head is not a good composition! This picture does not work on a number of levels but is a useful learning opportunity!
Moving in close to the subject I tried to capture a portrait before he took flight. I focussed on the blue eye as being the point of interest and placed it in the centre of the frame so that it took centre stage in the composition. The image is possibly slightly underexposed as the light sensor has probably taken account of the white background as well as the central subject.
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In order to explore various other ways of framing a subject, I took a digital image of Subject 1 (below) and used the cropping tool on Photoshop Elements 11 to create different frames for the subject.
ORIGINAL IMAGE – UNCROPPED
I used the cropping tool to select different frames from within this image to create different compositions as shown in the images below. I chose this image because the subject was centred in the frame and there was considerable background detail giving plenty of scope for playing with the composition.
CROPPED IMAGE 1
Setting the subject off to one side has created a more interesting composition than the original where the subject is placed in the centre of the frame. The subject here is balanced to some extent by the bulk of the bush to the right, the curving shape of which acts as a frame within a frame for the subject. The deep blue and bright pink of the subject stands out well against the overall green and brown of the majority of the image. The inclusion of the distant background trees and house give a sense of depth to the image and provides a balance for the subject. The image appears to suffer from being slightly overexposed.
CROPPED IMAGE 2
I have cropped this image similarly to 1 above but this time have framed it closer so that the background trees and house are excluded. This serves to focus the attention more on the subject giving it greater dominance.
CROPPED IMAGE 3
For this image I have created a tall, narrow frame with the mass of the pot being balanced and partially framed by the branches in the top right. This composition brings the subject to the fore and creates a very interesting and attractive shot.
CROPPED IMAGE 4
This time I have cropped the image so that it is short and wide. I have intentionally retained a small area of branch in the top left corner in order to provide some balance to the composition. Interestingly, the subject appears to be less to the fore in this format than in the previous image. The intentional use of the 2/3rd – 1/3rd composition gives the picture more visual tension than if the pot was in the centre.
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I really enjoyed the exercise of exploring the way that the status of the subject changes in relation to its surroundings and in its relationship with the viewer when the subject is framed and / or cropped in different ways. I learnt that, so long as time is taken to ensure that the subject is properly framed within the viewfinder and attention is paid to any other extraneous detail within the image, then there is every chance that the resulting image will be successful in terms of its composition. Different ways of framing / cropping can emphasise different aspects of the subject or vary the importance of the subject in its surroundings. It has become clear to me that I need to identify in advance as much as possible what I want to create with the shot so that I can match the intended image with what I see in the viewfinder. Sometimes, playing with the image in the viewfinder by using different angles and zoom settings will give me new and different ideas as to what I can create.
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