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Food For Digital Thought: Using the Edges of Your Frame.

Using the edges of my frame.

Using the edges of my frame.

I recently had one of my blog followers send me this note:

Hi Joe,

I’ve followed your blog and website for some time now, and things are usually very clear and instructive.
In this edition, you stated:

“BTW, when you crop in front of a computer, you’ll never know where the edges of your frame are, nor will you ever be able to use the edges as a compositional tool.”

I am completely unsure as to what you mean – can you elaborate?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

I’m glad he asked because it’s a question I often get either in my online class with the BPSOP, or in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

First, here’s an excerpt from an interview done on Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is adamantly against cropping. He said, “We have to have a feeling for the geometry of the relation of shapes, like in any plastic medium. And I think that you place yourself in time, we’re dealing with time, and with space. Just like you pick a right moment in an expression, you pick your right spot, also. I will get closer, or further, there’s an emphasis on the subject, and if the relations, the interplay of lines is correct, well, it is there. If it’s not correct it’s not by cropping in the darkroom and making all sorts of tricks that you improve it. If a picture is mediocre, well it remains mediocre. The thing is done, once for all.”

I’ve also read that shooting loosely and cropping in post-processing are signs of sloppy technique and a lack of discipline…that would include yours truly.

Getting back to the question at hand, for me the main reason I don’t crop gets back to my Artist Palette, I present to my fellow photographers that take my online class or my workshop.

Let’s take Shape, one of the basic elements of visual design. I’m always looking to include shapes to strengthen my compositions. Circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles are the four basic shapes. That said, take a look at this video:


Also on my Artist Palette is Visual Tension.There’s several ways to generate Tension, and one is called “framing within a frame”. It’s a great way to add depth, while leading the viewer into the photo. Here’s a video:


The last area I want to cover is another way to create Visual Tension. First of all I’m not talking about the kind of tension that comes from mental or emotional stress. I’m talking about Visual Tension, and that comes from forces acting against one another. It’s the anticipation of these forces colliding with one another that creates the Tension. Placing a subject close to the edge of the frame is one way. Take a look:


I hope this post helped clears it up, and thanks for asking.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my upcoming workshops at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I have a few spots left for my upcoming week at the Maine Media Workshop. The week of July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop...the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep sending those photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video critique.


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