Using Tight Framing to Create a Sense of Infinity - Digital Photography School

Using Tight Framing to Create a Sense of Infinity

CroppingThe way you frame and crop your shots has power to give a sense of size to a scene that may not actually be there.

For example – the shot to the left of a field of tulips is framed in such a way that there is not beginning or end to the tulips anywhere inside the frame.

While the field tulips may in fact end just beyond the edge of the frame in any direction – the feeling that this framing gives is that of a never ending sea of tulips.

To get the effect the photographer has managed to get the angles right so that there’s no horizon and they’ve filled the frame with their subject.

To see the same principles illustrated again – check out the two following images. The first shot actually contains a lot more flowers than the second one – but because there’s a break in the flowers with the horizon there’s a sense that the flowers are limited to a certain area. Whereas the second scene could actually have a lot less flowers in it – but they go on and on in the mind of those viewing the shot.

Infinity

The same principles can be applied to numerous other situations. For example the same thing is done in the following image of a sailing boat:

Sailing

The boat is seemingly in the middle of an ocean – as there’s no end to the water in the frame. However the inclusion of land in any direction or even a horizon would have interrupted the water and given the image a different feeling.

Again it is a combination of the angle that the photographer is shooting from (from slightly above) and the framing of the subject.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://cafefernando.com Cenk

    Thanks for the great tip! I am learning so much from this blog.

  • http://www.amatterofmemories.com Jill

    This is a technique I would have never even have thought of using a few years ago, but love using it every now and then now. Here a couple posts on my blog with photos using this technique:

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/10/busy-saturday.html
    The phot of my daughter in the orchard is one of my favorites from this year…even though the orchard is really pretty small, it looks like she’s ‘lost’ in an elaborate forest.

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/11/finally-some-picturesstrategic-air.html
    The shot of the flag is my favorite from this museum trip…considering it’s a pictue of our flag, I think it speaks volumes.

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/09/red-square-in-omahas-old-market.html
    I love this photo of the wooden dolls…it is so vibrant and it looks like there must be hundeds of them when it was really just a small side table.

  • Jeff

    this also works great in the city shooting downtown w/ a telephoto lens. You get that busy, crowded fast paced look.

  • http://www.wheretoselldigitalphotos.com/ Ron Passfield

    Excellent advice and guidance – so often it is the little things that make a huge difference. I really appreciate the quality of your advice and the ability to be able to see examples and access additional related information.

  • http://www.chrisridley.com Chris Ridley

    I often use extra lens vignetting as well as a tight crop to really push my images, cropping is so important to get the desired effect!

    Enjoying these blogs, thanks
    Chris
    http://www.11thstudio.com

  • http://www.drywatermedia.com Colleen Catania

    It is always great to be reminded of the power of framing!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/ Peter (a.k.a. Joe Shlabotnik)

    Aw, I’m the “what not to do” picture :-(

    Well, I never claimed to be the world’s best photographer. Still, in this particular case I wanted to get the horizon in the shot because I wanted to show that the field of flowers *actually* went on close to forever, rather than just giving the illusion of that.

    I totally understand your point – I like tight framing, too:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/161988995/

    Maybe the field of flowers is not as artistic the way I took it, but I think it says more about the impressiveness of the field.

    Now of course my photo would also be improved if I replaced my wife with a naked model, but don’t tell my wife I said that :-)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ktlindsay/ KT Lindsay

    Ahh :-) The “naked model” is chuffed that you used one of her photos in a tutorial (which she found out via flickr stats – a useful little feature). Thank you and love the tutorials, I find them really inspiring.

  • http://digital-photography-school.com/blog Darren

    thanks KT :-)

  • http://edithosb.blogspot.com Sister Edith

    Thank you for this tip – I had never thought of it. Within a few days of reading it, I needed to post a blog about a new library book. I thought I had planned to photo the librarian adding it to the shelf. Thanks to your tip, I was able to convey the idea that it is the most recent edition to a long stream of learning visually – as though the library went on forever.

    http://edithosb.blogspot.com/2007/12/encyclopedia-of-catholic-social-thought.html

    I learn a lot here: thank you.

  • sang

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing such practical tips.

  • http://albtranslator.blogspot.com eni

    thanks a lot for sharing my “tulip fields” photo in this cool blog of yours.so glad to hear all of this.i’m happy to see people who think like me:)

  • Henriette

    You should’nt have but I’am so glad you did. NOW that is, sharing all your wonderfull tips. I find it great.

  • Rishi

    Yes…this is a really great tip. these little tips are helping me a lot in improving my photographs.

  • http://kirpi.it kirpi

    I’m convinced that framing (and cropping) is the best photography exercise anybody can and should do, anytime. It is fundamental, does not cost anything, and does not even require you to have a camera at all!
    I put together a small page for this http://www.kirpi.it/Photo/Learn-image-cropping-by-practice with the hope it can be useful to many :-)

  • Scott

    I’ve used the same effect for “crowd” shots, at events where a crowd was expected but didn’t quite fill all the seats.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4983029968/

  • http://www.cornelia-strufe.com Cornelia

    This is a great tip, I did this without knowing why I like the pics that much, now I have the explanation. ;)

    Thanks for another great article! You have to loooove DPS!

  • http://www.fotonazos.es Jexweber

    I usually crop the image to gain this effect, it’s amazing!

  • http://www.sweetlighting.com Chen

    Great tip! I do it all the time. Some times, I would use a telephoto lens for a picture even I knew I could get the shot with a standard or wide angle lens. This technique also work on shooting portraits on large size people. [eimg url='http://sweetlighting.com/upload/TightFraming.jpg' title='TightFraming.jpg']

  • Mei Teng

    This is a good tip to remember.

  • http://www.sweetlighting.com Chen

    Great tip! here is an example that i did.[eimg url='http://sweetlighting.com/upload/TightFraming.jpg' title='TightFraming.jpg']

  • http://www.sweetlighting.com Chen

    Great tip!

  • http://www.flickr.com/123rik RIk

    I love this effect. Used it loads of times, with this shot of Paris as a prime example

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/123rik/5019979412/

  • http://frankworthphotography.com Frank Worth

    Excellent tips something that everyone should look at,whether you are a beginner of a professional.

  • Glenn72

    Thanks for writing this article, I was doing this without thinking because it looks good and now realize it is a technique.

  • shakira_d

    Amazing tips! I really like this framing..
    Here are some of mi pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/sambeth/

  • Dave
  • Ivor

    I see what you are getting at but I’m not sure I agree that the images you have chosen actually reflect what you are trying to say. By your rules the model in the field has everlasting arms because her wrists don’t appear in the frame!

    The picture of tulips says to me … tight shot of tulips. I’d be more inclined to think “everlasting field” if the shot had been wider and longer. However, Peter’s shot of the rape-seed field could have created a greater impression of infinity – if he’d wanted it to – had he chosen to shoot from a slightly higher angle and cropped below the start of the wood.

    It isn’t tight cropping or framing; you need to give angle and a feeling of scale for the object within it’s context for this to work. The yacht from higher (angle) shot longer (scale) and without the rowboat (scale again) would give you a much better feeling of being isolated in an ocean.

  • http://www.photographymojo.com Anna Patrick

    The technique is useful, but the photos chosen to illustrate it are not that relevant…

  • http://www.flickr.comCoriJae CJ Standish

    Love your columns, Darren!

    The mind is actually quite smart. It will mentally extrapolate beyond, when it sees clues.

    For example, the rowboat gives away that we are not looking in the middle of the ocean. He could easily have photoshopped out the boat if he wanted ocean. The rowers: the calm water and dark reflection of the trees tells us we are looking at a river scene. But it isall OK – it shows the better effect of cropping out nonessential distractions from the image, if not the infinity.

    A couple that really work with the infinity idea are the apple orchard by Jill and the shot in Paris by Rik.

  • jbn0102

    I guess its a matter of,” different strokes for different folks”I get much more sense of expansiveness when the horizon is included . The tight framing tends to give me a sense of claustrophobia. The nice thing about photography is that while there may be rules or guides , there is always the matter of an individual’s reception to consider.

  • shem

    thank you very much digital photographyschool and for the author of this. i am always excited to check out my email for new tips from this website. everything is helpful and interesting.

  • Kishan

    Great tip :) Even though I have used it by cropping on a couple of occasions, I didnt realize the impact until I read this article.. Very useful.. Co-incidentally heres a recent Inifinity illusion which I was processing today

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/76601665@N00/8090582067/in/photostream

  • Jay

    Thanks Darren, very useful tip.

    For situations where tight in-camera cropping is not feasible (when using a wider, non-zoom lens and walking closer is not an option), I wonder if bokeh would provide a similar emotion.

    Need to try this out soon!

  • Scottc

    Not absolutely this fits the means of the article, but it’s what I intended….

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5438053955/

  • Stephen H A (Kim) Hollingshead

    Brilliant idea – I shall use it ad nauseum :-)

  • http://www.timothyroper.com Tim Roper

    Great example of less is more, and letting the viewer’s imagination fill in the “missing” parts. So many photos suffer from TMI, but it’s often what’s not in the photo that counts the most.

  • Nikhil Rawal
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/25251025@N04/ Anna

    I use this concept 24-7! Sometimes you use it to avoid the unnecessary background, or to have the eyes follow the leading lines to your subject! This is a great tutorial!

  • kartikjayaraman

    Nice discussion. I used this technique for a photo of the moon by the ocean and it worked out very well!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/djkj/4435872090/

    This also works on photos which involve a bit of fiction: “Mother-in-law’s jaws”

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/djkj/4443218980/

  • Mauro Castaldi

    Flowers in my garden…. Korean Chrysanthemum

Some older comments

  • Anna

    October 25, 2012 06:38 am

    I use this concept 24-7! Sometimes you use it to avoid the unnecessary background, or to have the eyes follow the leading lines to your subject! This is a great tutorial!

  • Nikhil Rawal

    October 23, 2012 08:02 pm

    Here are some of my tight framing :

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikrawal/6847179819/in/set-72157629246304813
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikrawal/6847215209/in/set-72157629246304813
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikrawal/5046912806/in/set-72157625080059804
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikrawal/5044912936/in/set-72157625080059804

  • Tim Roper

    October 19, 2012 04:15 pm

    Great example of less is more, and letting the viewer's imagination fill in the "missing" parts. So many photos suffer from TMI, but it's often what's not in the photo that counts the most.

  • Stephen H A (Kim) Hollingshead

    October 19, 2012 03:03 am

    Brilliant idea - I shall use it ad nauseum :-)

  • Scottc

    October 16, 2012 09:47 am

    Not absolutely this fits the means of the article, but it's what I intended....

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5438053955/

  • Jay

    October 16, 2012 04:49 am

    Thanks Darren, very useful tip.

    For situations where tight in-camera cropping is not feasible (when using a wider, non-zoom lens and walking closer is not an option), I wonder if bokeh would provide a similar emotion.

    Need to try this out soon!

  • Kishan

    October 16, 2012 03:20 am

    Great tip :) Even though I have used it by cropping on a couple of occasions, I didnt realize the impact until I read this article.. Very useful.. Co-incidentally heres a recent Inifinity illusion which I was processing today

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/76601665@N00/8090582067/in/photostream

  • shem

    April 11, 2011 05:19 pm

    thank you very much digital photographyschool and for the author of this. i am always excited to check out my email for new tips from this website. everything is helpful and interesting.

  • jbn0102

    October 9, 2010 07:35 pm

    I guess its a matter of," different strokes for different folks"I get much more sense of expansiveness when the horizon is included . The tight framing tends to give me a sense of claustrophobia. The nice thing about photography is that while there may be rules or guides , there is always the matter of an individual's reception to consider.

  • CJ Standish

    October 9, 2010 12:15 am

    Love your columns, Darren!

    The mind is actually quite smart. It will mentally extrapolate beyond, when it sees clues.

    For example, the rowboat gives away that we are not looking in the middle of the ocean. He could easily have photoshopped out the boat if he wanted ocean. The rowers: the calm water and dark reflection of the trees tells us we are looking at a river scene. But it isall OK - it shows the better effect of cropping out nonessential distractions from the image, if not the infinity.

    A couple that really work with the infinity idea are the apple orchard by Jill and the shot in Paris by Rik.

  • Anna Patrick

    October 8, 2010 11:35 pm

    The technique is useful, but the photos chosen to illustrate it are not that relevant...

  • Ivor

    October 8, 2010 07:57 pm

    I see what you are getting at but I'm not sure I agree that the images you have chosen actually reflect what you are trying to say. By your rules the model in the field has everlasting arms because her wrists don't appear in the frame!

    The picture of tulips says to me ... tight shot of tulips. I'd be more inclined to think "everlasting field" if the shot had been wider and longer. However, Peter's shot of the rape-seed field could have created a greater impression of infinity - if he'd wanted it to - had he chosen to shoot from a slightly higher angle and cropped below the start of the wood.

    It isn't tight cropping or framing; you need to give angle and a feeling of scale for the object within it's context for this to work. The yacht from higher (angle) shot longer (scale) and without the rowboat (scale again) would give you a much better feeling of being isolated in an ocean.

  • Dave

    October 8, 2010 06:11 pm

    A very handy tip to remember, and some walking around to get the right angle is often needed.

    http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg67/zooloader/Gateway%20Bridge%202/secondbridgeopening_0025.jpg

    http://s245.photobucket.com/albums/gg67/zooloader/Telephoto/?action=view&current=waterlily_3.jpg

  • shakira_d

    October 8, 2010 12:10 am

    Amazing tips! I really like this framing..
    Here are some of mi pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/sambeth/

  • Glenn72

    October 7, 2010 07:18 pm

    Thanks for writing this article, I was doing this without thinking because it looks good and now realize it is a technique.

  • Frank Worth

    October 7, 2010 01:27 pm

    Excellent tips something that everyone should look at,whether you are a beginner of a professional.

  • RIk

    October 7, 2010 04:00 am

    I love this effect. Used it loads of times, with this shot of Paris as a prime example

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/123rik/5019979412/

  • Chen

    October 7, 2010 02:15 am

    Great tip!

  • Chen

    October 7, 2010 02:14 am

    Great tip! here is an example that i did.[eimg url='http://sweetlighting.com/upload/TightFraming.jpg' title='TightFraming.jpg']

  • Mei Teng

    October 6, 2010 11:51 pm

    This is a good tip to remember.

  • Chen

    October 6, 2010 11:32 pm

    Great tip! I do it all the time. Some times, I would use a telephoto lens for a picture even I knew I could get the shot with a standard or wide angle lens. This technique also work on shooting portraits on large size people. [eimg url='http://sweetlighting.com/upload/TightFraming.jpg' title='TightFraming.jpg']

  • Jexweber

    October 6, 2010 09:44 pm

    I usually crop the image to gain this effect, it's amazing!

  • Cornelia

    October 6, 2010 03:14 pm

    This is a great tip, I did this without knowing why I like the pics that much, now I have the explanation. ;)

    Thanks for another great article! You have to loooove DPS!

  • Scott

    October 6, 2010 02:06 pm

    I've used the same effect for "crowd" shots, at events where a crowd was expected but didn't quite fill all the seats.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4983029968/

  • kirpi

    October 6, 2010 07:43 am

    I'm convinced that framing (and cropping) is the best photography exercise anybody can and should do, anytime. It is fundamental, does not cost anything, and does not even require you to have a camera at all!
    I put together a small page for this http://www.kirpi.it/Photo/Learn-image-cropping-by-practice with the hope it can be useful to many :-)

  • Rishi

    April 21, 2010 10:37 pm

    Yes...this is a really great tip. these little tips are helping me a lot in improving my photographs.

  • Henriette

    June 7, 2008 12:14 am

    You should'nt have but I'am so glad you did. NOW that is, sharing all your wonderfull tips. I find it great.

  • eni

    December 24, 2007 11:05 pm

    thanks a lot for sharing my "tulip fields" photo in this cool blog of yours.so glad to hear all of this.i'm happy to see people who think like me:)

  • sang

    December 22, 2007 08:50 pm

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing such practical tips.

  • Sister Edith

    December 22, 2007 05:41 pm

    Thank you for this tip - I had never thought of it. Within a few days of reading it, I needed to post a blog about a new library book. I thought I had planned to photo the librarian adding it to the shelf. Thanks to your tip, I was able to convey the idea that it is the most recent edition to a long stream of learning visually - as though the library went on forever.

    http://edithosb.blogspot.com/2007/12/encyclopedia-of-catholic-social-thought.html

    I learn a lot here: thank you.

  • Darren

    December 21, 2007 12:13 pm

    thanks KT :-)

  • KT Lindsay

    December 21, 2007 10:53 am

    Ahh :-) The "naked model" is chuffed that you used one of her photos in a tutorial (which she found out via flickr stats - a useful little feature). Thank you and love the tutorials, I find them really inspiring.

  • Peter (a.k.a. Joe Shlabotnik)

    December 17, 2007 01:07 am

    Aw, I'm the "what not to do" picture :-(

    Well, I never claimed to be the world's best photographer. Still, in this particular case I wanted to get the horizon in the shot because I wanted to show that the field of flowers *actually* went on close to forever, rather than just giving the illusion of that.

    I totally understand your point - I like tight framing, too:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/161988995/

    Maybe the field of flowers is not as artistic the way I took it, but I think it says more about the impressiveness of the field.

    Now of course my photo would also be improved if I replaced my wife with a naked model, but don't tell my wife I said that :-)

  • Colleen Catania

    December 15, 2007 01:12 am

    It is always great to be reminded of the power of framing!

  • Chris Ridley

    December 14, 2007 07:42 pm

    I often use extra lens vignetting as well as a tight crop to really push my images, cropping is so important to get the desired effect!

    Enjoying these blogs, thanks
    Chris
    http://www.11thstudio.com

  • Ron Passfield

    December 14, 2007 03:56 pm

    Excellent advice and guidance - so often it is the little things that make a huge difference. I really appreciate the quality of your advice and the ability to be able to see examples and access additional related information.

  • Jeff

    December 14, 2007 06:54 am

    this also works great in the city shooting downtown w/ a telephoto lens. You get that busy, crowded fast paced look.

  • Jill

    December 14, 2007 01:12 am

    This is a technique I would have never even have thought of using a few years ago, but love using it every now and then now. Here a couple posts on my blog with photos using this technique:

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/10/busy-saturday.html
    The phot of my daughter in the orchard is one of my favorites from this year...even though the orchard is really pretty small, it looks like she's 'lost' in an elaborate forest.

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/11/finally-some-picturesstrategic-air.html
    The shot of the flag is my favorite from this museum trip...considering it's a pictue of our flag, I think it speaks volumes.

    http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2007/09/red-square-in-omahas-old-market.html
    I love this photo of the wooden dolls...it is so vibrant and it looks like there must be hundeds of them when it was really just a small side table.

  • Cenk

    December 14, 2007 12:45 am

    Thanks for the great tip! I am learning so much from this blog.

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