Photography Tip - Framing your Subject

Late fall is a great time to visit the Grand Teton National Park especially when the mountains are covered in snow. During my visit, the bushes along the water's edge at Oxbow Bend were vibrant. I thought they would be the perfect way to frame the snow capped Tetons in the background.  The Tetons are majestic no doubt, but when I saw them that day capped in snow and so far away, they looked small and unreachable. The vibrant bushes on the other hand were right in front of me where I could touch them. They were just as beautiful (in their own way) as the mighty Tetons and were bursting with color and life. So I got my wide angle lens, found a natural break in the bushes, stood right next to the bushes to keep them large in the frame and then framed the Tetons in the background. I loved the contrast in both color and concept. 

 Nikon D300, 12-24 mm lens @ f/18, 24mm

Nikon D300, 12-24 mm lens @ f/18, 24mm


The following picture was also taken at the Grand Teton National Park. There were lots of old barns, houses and fences throughout the park.  I used an opening in an old fence to frame a homestead.  The fence was weathered and I thought it portrayed the harshness of the environment. The "peephole" approach added a sense of isolation the early pioneers must have felt.  The fence immediately grabbed me and told the story. It was all there. Just like the Oxbow Bend picture above, I used my wide-angle lens. I stood right next to the fence to keep it large in the foreground and framed the homestead in the background. I wanted both the fence and the homestead to be in focus.  I composed it so the homestead fell in the Rule of Thirds position. It worked perfectly for this scene.

  Nikon D300, 12-24 mm lens @ f/18, 24mm

Nikon D300, 12-24 mm lens @ f/18, 24mm

Tip: When using your wide-angle lens to tell a landscape story, make your foreground an integral part of the story. It will make a strong visual impact. Observe your surroundings and use color, texture, patterns, etc., to frame your subject.
 


There are times when you want to break the rules. Normally when photographing animal faces, you focus on the eyes. In the following picture, the story was in the hand. The monkey told the story for me, when it reached out and grabbed the fence. The hand pulled me into the cage. Animals speak to us on many levels. Listen to them and take what they give you. I had my telephoto zoom lens on my camera at the time. I shot shallow and long to keep the focus on the hand and the face blurred in the background. I used the square openings in the fence to frame both the hand and the eyes. The out of focus face represents many things to me. It may represent different things to you. That is the great thing about photography. The way you see and share your life with animals plays a role in how you ultimately photograph them. 

  Nikon D2x, 70-200mm lens, f/4 @ 200mm

 Nikon D2x, 70-200mm lens, f/4 @ 200mm