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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Foreground frames for more information

I've talked a little bit about foreground frames before. I have to admit it's a technique I don't tend to use that much but every so often it comes in handy, and sometimes it's absolutely vital.

The main reason I don't use them all that much is because often the frames can tend to detract from the story telling part of the image.

They don't necessarily contribute anything to the picture and are often used just because the photographer can't think of an interesting way to frame the image.

In terms of travel photography the frame needs to say something about where you are. So for example if you're in the tropics there's no point having a frame of some indiscriminate plant just for the sake of it - you need a silhouetted tropical plant to put the viewer in the right part of the globe.

Take this shot above. This is Singapore going ahead full steam. The construction of a new resort and lots of shipping containers in the background tell a story of the modern Singapore. But, like yesterday's post, it doesn't tell you where I am. Which isn't always important, but in this case really is.

You see I'm looking out through the wide open mouth of a giant statue of Singapore's symbol - the Merlion. I'm peering out through sharpened fangs to the city beyond. But you wouldn't know it from this picture.

But you would from this one.

Again you have the construction cranes and the buildings beyond (albeit a lot smaller) but you also have those gleaming fangs as a foreground frame.

For those people who don't know the Merlion on Sentosa Island their first thought is going to be - where the hell is the photographer and what are those teeth?

And that's what I'm always trying to aim for. An image that will make the viewer sit up and take notice for more than a fraction of a second and take a bit of interest in the picture before them.

Of course the first shot is a telephoto lens and the second one is a wide-angle. Both of them are of different things - one is a modern Singapore, the other the view of modern Singapore from inside the mouth of a lion. Neither is right or wrong, they're just different. And as foreground frames go these canines really contribute to that sense of where I am.

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