Project 52/Framed: The final week

While our year of compositional exploration, “Framed”, at Who We Become has gone far beyond the project name, I’m capping off the year with a little bit of framing…



…and some other favorites from our trip this weekend to the Frontier Culture Museum.












Project 52/Framed: Classic composition – golden spiral

For our fourth week of classic compositional techniques at Who We Become, we are focusing on the golden spiral, which is a compositional tool based on Fibonacci’s Ratio and the golden rectangle.

Start by dividing a rectangle in to two parts, a square and a smaller rectangle. Continue to divide the resulting rectangles the same way. A spiral is drawn from the series of squares and provides a way to guide the viewer’s eye to the area of focus in a photo. This spiral is often referred to as the “divine proportion” because of the numerous places it appears in nature — the spiral of a Nautilus shell, or the patterns of a flower or pinecone. Like its many uses in art and architecture, using the golden spiral in photography can add depth and a sense of balance.


Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – layering

And it’s week 4 of our month of creative complexity at Who We Become. This week’s topic, layering, has intimidated me all month long. Layering as we define it here involves having a well-defined foreground, middle ground, and background in the photo. The concepts we explored in the first three weeks — depth of field, filling the frame, and subject separation, all come in to play in various degrees. Having my husband’s extended family together for a reunion at his mom’s riverside home gave me an opportunity to snap lots of busy scenes and hope that one would come together in the right way. Here are the two best results:




Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – subject separation

This week at Who We Become we explore different ways of emphasizing the subjects of our images, making sure that they stand out sufficiently from the background to communicate our intention to the viewer. There are a variety of methods to achieve this aim. Keeping the background free of distracting elements is a most basic approach, which can be further enhanced with other techniques: shallow depth of field, selective focus, careful placement of light (such as rim light from back or side lighting), or a pop of color are just a few examples. In a busier scene with a number of elements, calling attention to the main subject is all the more important and challenging. The same techniques are relevant but others, such as framing the subject or having the subject break a pattern, are also options. One effective technique is to have physical separation between the subject and other people or objects, also making sure that there is space between the background elements as well.

Recently I made my first ever serious attempt at panning. Let’s just say I need a lot more practice, but I liked how this one came out. It isolates the subject as the only part of the picture in focus, and also achieved separation between most of the background elements.




Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – filling the frame

While the setting is often important in a photograph, sometimes our artistic intention is to draw full attention to our subject. Filling the frame edge to edge with our subject(s) by moving closer, zooming in, or cropping the image in post-processing eliminates background distractions and forces the viewer to examine the subject in close detail. In a portrait, filling the frame with the subject—particularly close-ups of the face—can capture personality or mood that would get lost at more of a distance. Non-human subjects also benefit from this close inspection of all or part of the object. Filling the frame is often used in macro photography to isolate important details. While filling the frame is a compositional technique in itself, combining it with other techniques, such as repetition or rule of thirds, can lend even more impact to the image.



See the full collection at Who We Become.

Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – depth of field

This month on Who We Become we are exploring some creative composition topics. Depth of field is a fundamental technical concept in photography. It refers to the amount of the field of view that is in sharp focus, and results from three factors: the lens aperture, the length of the lens, and the distance from camera to subject. In a photo with a very shallow depth of field, only a few inches—or even less—may be in focus. The blurred background that results is often considered ideal for portrait or macro photography, ensuring that the viewer’s eye is not distracted from the subject. For landscape photography, more depth of field is generally desired, so that all elements of the photo will be in focus. In this week’s post, we go beyond the basic understanding of depth of field that is typically gained in an introductory photography course and use depth of field as a creative compositional element. A shallower depth of field can bring a sense of dimension to what would otherwise be a “flat” photo, strengthening the separation of foreground and background. Alternatively, shallow depth of field can be used to bring focus to an unexpected element of the composition.  Conversely, the photographer may choose a wider depth of field combined with carefully placed background elements to create a sense of movement through the photo. Wide depth of field is also frequently used in environmental portraiture, where background elements are important to the context of the portrait.