Framing Your Winter Shots

BY FRANK SMITH, OLYMPUS TRAILBLAZER
Shot by Frank Smith, Olympus Trailblazer

The landscape changes in the winter / holiday season and it is a great time to look for new photographic opportunities.

Mother Nature gives us a whole new canvas to work with. Many times we discover some things that catch our eye and our immediate reaction is to photograph the subject. We don’t however, take the time to look around and incorporate other elements into the image.

In the case of this image below, I saw the beautiful red berries on the tree.

All photos were taken with the OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 II.

Image A
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/250 ISO: 200

Image B
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/250 ISO: 200

Image C
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/250 ISO: 200

It was a clear day, so I tried to find a pleasing simple background, such as the sky or something else that would not compete with the primary subject, the red berries. My first attempt was to place the berries in the foreground of the pretty white old barn building. I took the shot and didn’t like the outcome. It just didn’t have a “wow” factor and it was not an impactful image. As I looked some more, I noticed the window of the barn structure and thought that could make an interesting background as my secondary subject.

To accomplish this composition, I would have to move myself in order to get the berries in front of the window.

As I worked the composition, I again focused on making sure my primary subject (the berries) was not competing with the secondary subject (the window).

Image A
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/320 ISO: 320

Image B
Aperture: f16 Shutter Speed: 1/250 ISO: 2500

Image C
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/320 ISO: 320

Image B was shot at an aperture setting of f16. This is a small aperture opening that allows for a greater depth of field or having more of a scene being in focus.

I liked the composition but I wanted there to be a “softer” background than this image shows. The answer was to open up my aperture, using a small number, which is a larger f stop opening. This gives us a smaller depth of field. This puts the primary subject in sharp focus and the secondary subject out of focus or softer. The human eye is always drawn to the sharpest part of any image and therefore background becomes less of a focal point, thereby directing the audience to the primary subject of the image. In Image C, I used an aperture setting of f5.6.

When trying to draw your audience’s attention to a particular subject, this is a simple in-camera technique that you can use for any type of image which does not require much post-processing. Give it a go and have fun with your holiday images!

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