Composition. The Use of Framing

It’s here! The NEW Kindle eBook, “The Power Of Composition: The Use Of Emotional Appeal To Create Impact”. If you want people to love your photos they must have emotional appeal. In other words they have to evoke an emotional response from the person viewing them. Once the viewer can make an emotional connection with the subject in your photo he or she is hooked. Getting the viewer to connect with the photo by falling in love with the subject is very methodical and once understood can be used in every type of photography. Below is an excerpt from the book describing one type of “Framing”. Framing is placing a structure or objects on the perimeter of the image creating a frame around the edges. There are three types of “framing” and each evokes a different emotional appeal from the viewer. For this article we’ll discuss when the framing and subject are placed in the same plane. Usually the subject is underneath and the framing is above.


When the subject is underneath the framing, as is the Corvette underneath the Framing of the tree, the viewer gets the impression that the subject is sheltered or protected. Many times I will use this technique at weddings. I will place the bride and groom under the doorway of the church. The message being that they are under the shelter of the church or their love is protected by the love and Grace of God. The car might not be protected in the same way but it is sheltered or protected by the branch of the tree. The basic concept is still the same.


Wherever I go I can always find some kind of Framing. Sometimes it is a branch of a tree, or a doorway. Other times it is some structure such as an arch or canopy or awning.


This type of “framing” is one of three that will help you achieve emotional appeal. It is a fairly easy technique however it sends a very subtle but clear message to the viewer.

Started fliming our new DVD

Outdoor photography can be done with flash or without depending on the situation and desired effect.

Outdoor photography can be done with flash or without depending on the situation and desired effect.

Just Started filming our new instructional DVD. Photographing Children will be released sometime after the New Year. Children’s photography is both rewarding and profitable if you know what to do. There are so many choices as to where and how to photograph them. In studio, is always very classical. On location opens up a wide range of possibilities like a park or beach or who knows? Lastly their is the child’s home. When the setting is their home the photo gives the viewer a sense of belonging. No matter where the photo is taken the goal is always the same. When photographing a child you always want honest expressions that come from within.  Whether a smile or not it has to be real so that their personality shines through.

Children's Christmas photos using studio lights

Children’s Christmas photos using studio lights

Studio Lighting with Exotic Dancer

Every now and then I get to photograph exotic subjects. In this case a belly dancer. I like studio photography because you have absolute control of Lighting. 075L
Not only can you control direction of light but contrast or “Light Ratio”. Two elements of lighting that result in the “mood” of the image. I also don’t have to worry about the wind messing up the shot by blowing the hair or costume out of place. The studio is the place where you get to be an
The photos on this blog have not been retouched yet. The background needs to be cleaned up by removing wrinkles and toned down in brightness. The model needs a little retouching to sharpen the eyes. Having said that, the ingredients of composition, lighting, subject matter are all in place.

Story Telling Using Selective Focus

Selective Focus 3
Selective Focusing is a very powerful tool when you are trying to tell a story with just one photo. By focusing on something   in the foreground that is related to something out of focus in the background. In the photo above the focus is on the single hand and champagne flute. The background contains the out of focus groom, bride and Maid of Honor toasting. What is out of focus reinforces the statement of what is in focus.

The difference between Selective focus and just focusing on your subject with an out of focus background is that in selective focus the background has to be related to whatever you have in focus. Most of the time what you focus on is  small compared to the out of focus part of the photo. You could say that the out of focus background is more important because it explains the importance of the object in focus. Had I taken the photo of the hand and flute against a plain background the photo would have a different meaning.

See You At The Trade Show!
Coming up this weekend is the Florida Professional Photographers Convention in Orlando. If you live in Florida go to it. If you live in another state find out when your state’s convention is and go. The trade show is where you get to “kick the tires” on equipment that you are thinking of getting. You’ll also find “stuff” you didn’t know existed.
The Trade Show Runs Sunday and Monday and it’s about $35 to get in. If you go to their website there is a coupon you can print and it’s only $20. Most vendors will put the equipment in your hands so you can get a “feel” for it. Much better than looking at a website.
Here is the website for the Florida Professional Photographers. https://fpponline.org/
I’ll be there Sunday. Now go and get your coupon so I can see you there too.

Breaking Camera Equipment

030LIf you take photos often it’s bound to happen to a piece of your equipment. Whether you forgot a tripod somewhere only to go back and not find it or you drop and break a filter or lens we all go through it. A few days ago I took some excellent photos with my new soft focus filter. Yesterday I dropped it and it is now heading to the state landfill.

017L Here is how I look at it. It really stinks but there is a bright side. First, I no longer have to clean it. Second, I don’t have to worry that I am going to drop and break it. If someone at the landfill steals it I don’t care. I love photography and take photos almost daily. Whether for myself, a client or my classes and seminars. Sooner or later I know there will be a dreaded accident. In the meantime I am going to enjoy myself. img_7233L

The Best Soft Focus Filter For Digital Cameras

soft focus of a coupleEver since I switched to digital photography in 2006 I have missed using a soft focus filter. That’s because I quickly found that the filter that I was using for film did not give the same soft effect in digital. It actually made the photo look out of focus. I have tried several different soft focus filters and I just can’t seem to get a “soft” effect. I get more of a blurry look.
Recently I thought I would try something very old. I put some clear nail polish on a clear UV filter. Eureka. At last, Success! I love this filter. It takes away the harsh sharp edges that the lens has and softens everything a little. The photo is still in focus but not as sharply defined. It also lowers the contrast a little and smooths out the skin on close up of faces. The result is equal to very light retouching.
Here is how to make your own; Take a clear UV filter and then apply clear nail polish in radial lines. Keep the center clear of the nail polish. I placed a quarter in the center so the polish would not accidentally spill there while I applied the polish. Start with about eight radial lines and then take some photos. Shoot at f/5.6, f/4 and f/2.8. See how each look. If you feel it’s not enough add some more. I ended up with fourteen lines. When adding lines, ad three to four at a time.
Now I have what I consider the best soft focus filter and the cost is about $35 for the filter and a few dollars for the nail polish. My soft focus filter for my film camera was made by Carl Zeiss and cost $250 twelve years ago.
img_6043LSoft but not fuzzy for less than $40. Wow!

New Equipment and The Learning Curve

Whether you are a consummate pro or a beginner the learning process never ends. I recently purchased some new equipment. Three new Canon 600Ex-Rt flashes, a 70 to 200mm IS 2.8L lens, new flash brackets and external battery packs for the flashes.

So what is the first thing that I do? Take lots and lots of photos. I do practice what I preach. I can read all the manuals supplied but there is no substitute for testing and practicing with the equipment. I know my old flashes (Metz 60CT-4) forwards and backwards. They are analog with dials and switches. The Canon flashes are digital with menus and sub menus. I used my Metz flashes on “Auto”. The Canons built in Radio does not allow that. I have to learn E-TTL. I hate TTL because it is so inconsistent yet I will have to figure out how to manipulate it to do what I want.

It’s so easy to buy the equipment but it takes a concentrated  effort to learn how to use it effectively. Learning and practicing is arduous. This is why some of us buy exercise equipment and then it just gathers dust. It takes real effort to use it.

“Spaced repetition” is something I talk about in all my videos and seminars. I have been using the new equipment daily for about two weeks now. I have gotten very familiar with the menus and sub menus of the flashes. I can now easily find specific functions without much effort. Shorten your learning curve by practicing photography technique on a daily basis. When you get to the point where it’s second nature the photography experience becomes fun.

A Better Prom Photo

Are you taking any Prom photos? Don’t have an expensive DSLR camera? Here is a five step approach to get some really nice photos with just a point and shoot camera.

background too busy and couple too far away

1. Background too busy and couple too far away.



First, do what the pros do. Choose a simple background that is uncluttered. Backgrounds with a lot of “stuff” detract from the subject.











Simple background and closer really shows off the couple

2. Simple background and closer really shows off the couple. The shade lets their eyes relax.




Second, keep your subject out of the sunlight. Sunlight shining directly on the couple will force their eyes to squint. Sunlight from overhead will give them “raccoon eyes” by casting deep shadows on the eyes. Go in a shaded area so the eyes relax and open and we can see the color of the pupil.









close-up photos capture the expressions

3. close-up photos capture the expressions.




Third, Come in close . Florida is a beautiful state and it’s tempting to try to get all the nice palms or flowers. However, remember what you are photographing and what you will want to see clearly years from now. The prom couple is the subject. Move in close so we all appreciate how nice they look.





4> Take individual photos of the young man

4. Take individual photos of the young man.














4. Take individual photos of the young lady

4. Take individual photos of the young lady.


Fourth, take individual photos of the couple.












5. Take some photos showing off the back you of the dress.

5. Take some photos showing off the back view of the dress.




Fifth, take a back view of the girl’s dress. Many dresses are just as stylish on the back as they are on the front.











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