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Quick Photo Tip: Seeing Between the Lines

Visual Tension

I know all or most of you have at one time or another heard the expression, “Reading between the lines”. I recently heard a friend saying it and it immediately had me thinking of a post I wanted to write. Btw, I never know when an idea will pop into my brain, so I look forward to them each and every time; and have been for six years and almost six hundred posts ago.

When I go out shooting, I always have my Artist Palette securely positioned in the back of my mind. As the photographers that have taken both my online classes with the BPSOP, and the ones that have been with me on one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet know, my Artist Palette has all the elements of visual design and composition; it’s the same palette they all are using now as well.

One of the elements we work on in my part I class is ways to create Visual Tension. I’m not talking about the tension that comes from mental or emotional strain. I’m talking about the kind of tension that occurs when forces act upon one another. It’s the anticipation of something about to happen, as in the two forces colliding with one another.

One of the ways to generate visual Tension is to frame a subject within a frame. Framing serves to help define the subject, it adds depth to a composition, and it leads the viewer past the frame and into the picture…to the payoff…or subject.

A more non-traditional way to frame a subject is to put it between two strong lines. This will not only lead the viewer in and provide depth (by the manipulation of lines), but it will give a feeling of motion; as in moving the viewer across the frame.

In the above picture, I was with my workshop in New York one sunrise and while working with one of my students, I pointed out a way to shoot the Brooklyn Bridge in a less predictable way; a way less traveled in photographic jargon.

By placing the skyline in between the thick black lines I not only created visual interest, but visual tension as well. It certainly passes the six-eight second rule…I hate rules you know!!!


Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


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