Digital Photography Subject Framing Techniques

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Digital Photography Subject Framing Techniques

Framing your photographs does not mean putting it behind wood and glass. Unlike a wall frame, framing your photos means to place the subject of the picture within the viewfinder in an appropriate background.

Good framing techniques when taking digital photographs reduces (or eliminates) the need to edit and crop image files later. Framing a subject will enhance the main object of the photograph, while providing a background, making a pleasing image.

Framing your digital photos also helps to eliminiate "clutter", or things that maybe are irrelevant to the subject being photographed. Who wants to see the crushed beer can next to a classic barn, for example?

Many professional photographers use the "thirds" principle in framing their photos. The thirds theory is thus; when you look through the viewfinder, mentally slice the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Each of these imaginary lines (two horizontally, two vertically) can be used to frame the subject.

Ideally, the main subject should fall on a line, or on the crossing of two lines. That is, the subject should not be in the center of the photograph. Lines or straight elements in the picture should fall along one or more of these third-lines. This gives a visual reference to the viewer of the picture, and guides the human eye to the main subject in the image.

When shooting a portrait, for example, if the subject is seated next to a table, you (or them) can align the lines of the table against the thirds-line(s), and place the main subject eyes at another thirds-line. When shooting scenery, you can line up the skyline with a thirds-line, for example. While subjective, this method allows for great leeway in creativity of framing, while preserving the main aspects of award winning photographs.

Extraneous clutter should be eliminated when framing the photograph. While a backdrop of distant trees may look good in a portrait, a trash can at the feet of the subject will not.

In most DSLR cameras, the viewfinder "borders" do not exactly match the resultant image, especially when a large format image file is used.

Take practice shots of predictable subjects or backdrops to check the actual image against what your viewfinder shows you. As each lens has a different viewing aspect, repeat with all your lenses. This simple practice drill will save hours of editing and cropping later.

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