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Framing


Controlling what's in the viewfinder frame


Get in close to your subject for impact and to show detail. There should be no wasted space in your pictures. Photo submitted by Pattabi Raman.
Get in close to your subject for impact and to show detail. There should be no wasted space in your pictures. Photo submitted by Pattabi Raman.

FILL THE FRAME

Perhaps the number one error made by beginners is not getting close enough to their subject.

How close should you be?

Fill the viewfinder with your subject unless it is important to set the subject in its surroundings by making it small in relation to the overall scene. More often than not, too small a center of interest is the result of an error made while framing the picture. Move in until all extraneous surroundings are no longer in the frame. This will generally create greater impact and bring out more detail.

TRY DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS

Learn to see pictures from different viewpoints. It will help you to develop a "photographer's eye."

You must first put some thought into framing a scene. Don't just snap away when you come upon something you wish to photograph. Identify what appeals to you and then determine your best viewpoint to capture the scene and show it at its best. Don't be reluctant to walk around your subject, or to lower or raise your camera position to see how the different elements of a scene can affect your composition.

YOUR SUBJECT IS NOT A BULLSEYE

Many beginning photographers aim their camera so the center of interest (generally the subject's face in a portrait) is dead centre in the viewframe, leaving too much space above it. This is a habit that's hard to break. You must make a conscientious effort to not treat your subject like the bullseye of a target. If you are taking a picture of someone standing or seated, be sure you frame the picture so the person's head is near the top of the viewframe. Allow a modest amount of space so the subject's head isn't crowding the top edge and to ensure the head doesn't get cut off.

Take a moment to study the bottom picture on this page, and note how much of the image frame is filled, and how the subject's head is placed near the top border. If you make a conscious effort to do the same when taking pictures, your images will automatically improve.

 A telephoto lens brings the action close to you, and lets you fill the frame
A telephoto lens brings the action close to you, and lets you fill the frame

 A wide-angle lens captured all the elements in this tightly-composed image
A wide-angle lens captured all the elements in this tightly-composed image

 This was meant to be a butterfly picture.
This was meant to be a butterfly picture.

 Unlike the image directly above, this is a picture of a butterfly. Move in on your center of interest with a close-up lens or a telephoto
Unlike the image directly above, this is a picture of a butterfly. Move in on your center of interest with a close-up lens or a telephoto

The subject fills the frame, and the center of interest (the subject's eyes) is positioned in keeping with the Rule of Thirds
The subject fills the frame, and the center of interest (the subject's eyes) is positioned in keeping with the Rule of Thirds

 
Further information...
Common framing mistakes
Subjects' heads are cut off
Height helps
Focusing
Related topics...

Cropping

Cropping digital images

Rule of Thirds