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The Art Of Elimination

As visual communicators, we’re responsible for everything that’s in the frame; we’re also responsible for everything that’s not in the frame. Deciding what’s in the frame and what’s out is a critical decision that can make or break an image. Here are two essential framing strategies.

1. Use the frame to eliminate distracting information around a subject. Take extra care with image information that touches the frame, as it will draw extra attention. Do this with significant compositional elements.

2) Second exposure

2. Eliminate excess space around a subject to focus the attention of the viewer. A lot of space between the subject and the frame can be used to call on psychological associations with space, such as freedom or isolation. Some space between the subject and the frame can give the appearance of the subject resting gracefully within the frame. Touching the subject with the frame strongly focuses the attention of the viewer and may seem claustrophobic. Cropping the subject with the frame can focus the attention of the viewer on specific aspects of the subject and/or give an image a tense quality, evoking evasion and incompleteness—this often seems accidental if less than half the subject is revealed.

3) Two exposures merged, resulting in irregular frame

There’s more than one way to apply these strategies. While cropping techniques are simple to practice, the reasons for their application and the choices made about how to apply them, as well as the final effects, may be exceptionally complex. You have two choices: 1) reposition the frame before exposure; and 2) contract the position of one or more of the borders of an image after exposure, generally with software.

Retouching used to be complex; today it can be simple. Never before has retouching been so easy to do or the results so sophisticated. To be certain, not all retouching is simple. You can make retouching as easy or as complex as you choose to make it. Retouching is an art that continues to be elevated on a daily basis. But what once required specialized tools and a Herculean effort can now be done with standard software in seconds. You have several choices.

Cloning. Simply use the Clone Stamp tool set to Current and Below on a new blank layer. This will ensure that any retouching can be removed or redone at a later date. Hold the Option/Alt key and click to sample information to copy, then move the cursor to the area you’d like to copy the information to, and click and drag. Repeat until a desired effect is achieved. Typically, donor information is drawn from the same document, but you also can clone from one image or file to another.

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