I’ve been framed!!!

When it comes to photography there are so many techniques and tips to remember that it can be overwhelming at least initially. As with most things the more you practice these techniques the more they become second nature. Today I’d like to discuss using secondary subjects to “frame” your primary subject.

For this article I will be using some images that I took of an abandoned gold mine located near Victor, CO.

Uncropped image of mine

Looking at this image there are a few things that can easily be identified. First thing that pops out to me is the fact that it was shot straight on from a standing position. Even though the mine is clearly uphill from where I shot the photo, it’s clear that the camera is several feet above the ground.

Another thing that doesn’t really work for me on this image is the lack of depth-of-field (DOF). Without DOF the weeds in the foreground are distracting and take away some of the attention from the main subject. One saving grace is the fact that the road provides a bit of a leading line that helps draw attention to the mine.

So outside of cropping this photo and maybe some vignette, there’s not a lot that would make this photo one that I’d consider to be be interesting. So let’s take a look at shot of the same mine but “framed”.

Mine framed using door opening

There are various buildings located at the site. As I walked around I found one building that provided a unique view of the same mine. As you can see in the photo using the door opening I was able to “frame” the mine which provides a much more interesting look. While I was able to do some post-processing to help bring out some of the interior of the shack, I always wished that I had used a flash.

The next photo, while not the same mine, provides a perfect example of the benefit of a fill flash.

By using a fill flash for this photo there were a couple of benefits. Notice how the light helped to accentuate the wood of the door frame. Because it as situated close to the middle of the door frame it creates somewhat of a natural vignette. Another benefit of the the fill light is that it allows proper exposure in the shack as well as outside of the shack.

Admittedly, framing is not option for every shot, however it’s another tool to keep in your bag of tricks. It can take an ordinary shot and make it a nice shot.

Somethings are worth a second look

I don’t know about you but I’m notorious for just doing a shoot, processing the images and never revisiting them again. For those of you who follow DS Visual Art on Facebook, you know that I’ve been trying to break that cycle.

With the whole pandemic thing and the recent snow storms here in Colorado there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to get out and do much new photography. This is very frustrating and had me looking for ways to refine my skills.

As I was spending time looking at some photos that I had taken years ago I came across some that in the end were worth a second look. Some required some post processing while others were more about looking at the subject from a different perspective. All that said, let’s take a closer look.

During the first snow storm I found an image that I took back in 2005.

Original (unedited) photo

This was a shot of a bridge that I took out in the greater Boston area. When I first took this photo I thought there was a lot of potential, however when I started looking at it on the computer I began to think that it wasn’t worth saving, so I just moved on.

When I revisited this photo the potential presented itself again. Admittedly, it was going to take some work but what the heck I have nothing better to do.

Obviously, the first thing to fix was the spot created by the dust on my sensor. Then it was time to work on removing those lovely power lines. From there I began working on post processing to include adjusting exposure, highlights and shadows.

Here is the end result.

Another photography technique that has always fascinated me is “tilt-shift”. Tilt-shift photography is a unique type of photography in which the camera is manipulated so that a life-sized subject looks like a miniature-scale model.

Generally this involves special equipment, particularly a tilt-shift lens. Fortunately for me Adobe Photoshop provides the ability to do this type of photo manipulation. After doing some research on how to achieve this using software it was time to look for a suitable image to work with.

For this process I needed a photo where I was shooting from a location above the subject. Knowing that there weren’t times when i’ve shot from a high vantage point the one time that came to mind was when I took some photos looking down a convention center catwalk during the event setup.

The unedited image:

This photo didn’t require much in the way of post processing, which meant that I could get to trying the tilt-shift process. Rather than trying to explain the process I feel it best to give credit to the article at creativepro.com that helped me.

The author of the article does a very good job of explaining how to create this look. Here is the image after working through the steps.

With the second snow storm my mind began searching again for something to do, so back to my photo collection I went. Not sure what I was looking for I just began browsing folder after folder of photos.

During one of my photography adventures I spent some time near Victor, CO. For those readers unfamiliar with the significance of Victor, this is a historic gold mining community located SW of Colorado Springs. During this trip I saw several abandoned train cars, gold mine equipment and buildings.

This was another photo that when i first took it 10 years ago I thought it would be a nice image, but when I got home I just wasn’t feeling it. When I revisited it I thought I would give it another chance.

There were several things about the original image that I really didn’t like, and honestly wasn’t sure how to correct. The first thing that I felt needed to be resolved was the sky. On the day that I took this photo it was a very grey, overcast day.

While a neutral density filter would have helped a bit with the exposure it would have had a negatively affected the exposure on the building itself. Another thing about the image that didn’t work for me was it seemed too busy and distracted from the main subject, the building

This brought to light one of my biggest blunders when it comes to photography. I tend to look at things with a wide view often overlooking finer details. While I say this is a blunder it’s not all bad. This image is a perfect example of why taking photos from a wider angle is helpful.

Sepia tone with a tighter crop

The more I studied the photograph my eye was drawn to the window and the rustic wood-grains of the weathered boards. Along with these factors the idea of a sepia tone for the image seemed more appropriate in order to give it more of an old-time look.

Final thoughts

While the pandemic and snow storms have certainly proven to be a challenge for my sanity it has proven to have some benefits. For me it reaffirms not to be too quick to delete an image just because you think it’s not worth keeping.

Admittedly, if an image is clearly not salvageable for whatever reason (out of focus, way over/underexposed, etc) then yes it’s probably safe to delete. For any that don’t fall into those categories you might want to consider holding onto them, because who knows you might find yourself in the middle of a pandemic or a snowstorm looking for something to occupy your time.

Thanks for reading and until next time, keep sharpening your skills.