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Food For Digital Thought: Ways to create Visual Tension

Framing within a frame.

Framing within a frame.

Ok, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking when I say the word Tension., but it’s not what you’re thinking. When you hear the word tension you more than likely associate it with mental or emotional stress since that’s the most popular definition. After all, how many commercials have you seen or heard where they talk about “the tension headache”, and that their pill works better than all the rest to get rid of it?

I’m talking about the kind of Visual Tension that’s comes as a result of forces acting against one another; which creates energy and visual interest. When Visual Tension is present, it’s the feeling that something is going to occur that will change the dynamics of the message we’re trying to get across to the viewer.

In the psychology of Gestalt, we want to make the viewer an active participant when looking at our photos, and generating visual interest is a good way to keep him around longer looking at our imagery. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want.

In my three online classes with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on several ways to create Visual Tension, and one of the ways is called, “Framing within a frame”. This happens when we place a frame of some sort around our subject or centers of interest. This can be anything, including one of the four edges that surrounds our composition. BTW, it’s one of the reasons why it’s best not to crop your photos, so you can use the edges of your frame as a compositional tool.

The frame directs the viewer’s eye to not only the subject, but the environment it sits in; giving it a frame of reference. Framing within a frame adds depth and it’s the feeling of the frame closing in that also provides tension. Also, when you put a frame around your subject or center of interest, it will lead the viewers eyes directly to it and the energy it generates to focus his/her attention takes work and work takes time, which requires energy, and energy equals tension.

Here are some examples of “framing within a frame”:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. The end of July marks my twenty-eight year at the Maine Media workshops. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself for a week and think about nothing but photography. It’s the same week as the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland, and offers a completely different set of photo ops than the beautiful Maine coastline, amazing lighthouses, and quaint fishing villages. The full description is at the top of this blog.

The Los Angeles Center for photography has invited me to come out and conduct a three day intensive workshop over the July 15th weekend. I’ll be making a presentation of my work on Thursday July 14th and the public is invited. The full description can be see at the top of this blog, with a link to the site. I hope to spend the weekend with all of you.

I have added a new workshop to my 2016 schedule. On September 21st, ten photographers will get together with me at my evening “meet and greet” to begin a fantastic five-day workshop in New York, New York. Check out my description at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me.

Don’t forget to send me a question and photo to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.


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