Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.– Robert Capa

When I was starting my “apprenticeship” in photography, I was often frustrated with the results.  My images lacked drama and did not convey the artistic “message” I was hoping to convey.  All that changed when I followed the advice of the experts who say, “Get close to your subject” and “Think about how to frame the shot.”

You can think of the frame as the edge of a photograph, or the edges of the viewfinder that you use when you raise the camera to your eye.  The advice to fill the frame means to get in close, and make sure your subject occupies a significant amount of space in your shot.

I’ll start with an example from my files of poor framing.

Not Filling the Frame

After taking dozens of shots of Nina Akamu’s amazing American Horse sculpture in Meijer Gardens, I was not satisfied.  None of my shots adequately conveyed the power and majesty of this 24-foot bronze sculpture.  In this first shot, the viewer isn’t sure of what to focus on–the horse, the sky, or the green hill because the horse takes up only a small portion of the frame.

Leonardo’s Horse at a distance.  Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Filling the Frame

Now take a look at this next shot where I zoomed in on the horse and filled the frame with the head and upper torso.  Here, the horse seems to rear up and tower over the viewer.  Do you agree that its powerful neck and flank convey the animal’s power and majesty?

American horse in profile. Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Frame in terms of what you want to have in the picture, not about making a nice picture, that anybody can do. ~Garry Winogrand

Here’s another example.  Once again, I had taken dozens of shots of this peony at a distance, but my shots did not do justice to the flower and did not highlight the delicate poetry of the petals.  But by zooming in on the petals, I could fill the frame with their varied shapes and coloration.  This final shot comes closer to achieving what I wanted.

High Key Peony.

A frame is the foundation from which everything evolves. ~Bob Burg

On a visit to Sedona, Arizona, I took dozens of shots of the red rock formations at a distance, but I was frustrated with the results.  By framing the shot differently and zooming in on just one sandstone cliff in the setting sun, I could highlight the beauty and majesty of these sandstone formations.

Sedona Silhouette, Sedona Arizona

It’s the frames which make some things important and some things forgotten. It’s all only frames from which the content rises. ~Eve Babitz

By zooming in on this sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, I was able to exclude the extraneous details in the room and fill the frame with this one work of art.  This shot highlights the texture and wonderful expression on this animal’s face.

Baa Baa White Sheep, Art Institute of Chicago

This week, we invite you to explore filling the frame for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66.  You can include images of buildings, people, objects, and/or elements from nature.  Feel free to include shots of the same subject before you filled the frame and after you filled the frame.  In your post, include a link to this post. (Links from the Reader are not working correctly.) Use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. For instructions on how to join us, click here.

Last week, Tina invited us to “Pick a Place” and explore why it’s a favorite spot.  What a fabulous idea, Tina!  We all enjoyed seeing your treasured places.

Did You See These?

Next week, our talented Ann Christine will host Challenge #67, so please stop by her site.

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I hope you will join us!

255 replies »

  1. Noteworthy topic. I currently use a zoom-able ‘quality’ point and shoot. (Panasonic ZS200 FWIW.) Anyway, I was talking with a friend yesterday about how, when I had a mid-range DSLR with 3 lenses, it still seemed I was too close or too far for whatever lens was mounted at the time. I personally didn’t have the time or patience for hauling and changing lenses. (There’s always cropping!) Let’s see what I can find this week.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hope you join us, John. I always enjoy your perspective on the theme. That is a real issue with the ease of use of newer cameras–like cell phone cameras, as well as the point and shoot variety too. Often I carry both my cell phone and my lighter Fuji camera (lighter than my old Canon 60D). It’s liberating to carry less.


    • Hi, Dawn. Really! Small world. We lived in Grand Rapids for 7+ years. The Gardens were one of my favorite spots in town. I hope you’ve seen the Japanese Gardens. I think the new wing/renovation is finished now. I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe you have.


  2. Thanks so much, Patti! Just got the visitors snuggly off to bed and 5 minutes peace 🙂 🙂 I adore that Sedona photo, and the horse sculpture is unrecognisable in close up from his timid friend at a distance. Great stuff, and thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘Tis the season for visitors, Jo! You have a full house again! Glad you like the horse and Sedona. Much appreciated. It’s always gratifying to learn a technique that improves the shot. :). Hope you are having a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Amy. Thank you! I went further back in my files this week. Glad you like them. Now I’m hoping for a few good shots this weekend. What’s the ratio? 1 good shot out of 100 shots taken??

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking of you, Anne, when I posted the horse! I was sure you were going to like it! It’s an amazing sculpture–originally cast by Leonardo da Vinci. I’m so glad you like the shot.


  3. As someone wanting to improve her photography skills, I appreciate your lesson here. I find myself cropping photos to achieve a similar result. However, you have changed the angle of the photo. Love the horse example! What a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Lisa. Yes, it’s true. Cropping works sometimes and other times changing the perspective and zooming in. I’m always looking to improve and often get frustrated with the shots I’ve taken!! This technique has worked for me. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A good piece of photographic advice, very well represented with your images. For me it is easier to fill the frame, than to have to decide what I include or leave out.
    Love the horse shot!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Ana. I’m very glad this resonated with you. I’ve had some good luck following this advice. I’m always on the lookout for new techniques. That horse is amazing. I’m so glad the shot hints at its power and majesty. It was originally created by Leonardo da Vinci.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great theme for the week Patti, loved your explanation with an example too. Even though filling the frame looks very simple its a touch shot to take in my opinion! The first shot of the horse even though it’s not filled up the frame still I love that composition! Thank you for the interesting theme!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like this theme and examples. I agree. It is a tough shot to take and it’s difficult to know when to use it and when to focus on the bigger picture. Photography involves a lot of experimentation, doesn’t it???


    • I love your close up of the SH bridge, SH. It gives us a totally new perspective. And thanks too for the kind words about my shots. It’s good for me to hear your reactions to them.


      • A truly magnificent statue. I sometimes give up when the subject is too big and give it a true picture or do like you did, just capture a piece of it. Your full image is also very good. I like that you have taken on a 3rd and not placed it in the middle of the shot.I had to get my head around your topic … but I got there. *smile

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I always thought I was a reasonable photographer, but over recent years I have started to stop simply pointing and shooting, but actually stopping to consider what it is I want to capture and how to do that effectively so as not to have distracting backgrounds or stray objects in the shot. This can mean spending time walking around to find the sweet spot, or occasionally abandoning the shot altogether. Often using a prime lens makes you more conscious of what you can and cannot photograph.

    Your horse is a good example of the difference a considered shot makes.
    Jude xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jude. I’m trying to do the same thing and be more deliberate when I take a shot. I’m still training my eye to see all the possibilities. It’s definitely a process that takes patience. Thanks also for your thoughts about the horse. I thought it was a good idea to show the “before” and “after.” Glad you agree!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tina! I’m so glad this one was effective. It’s a process of trial and error to learn the techniques and to figure out when to use them. 🙂 🙂 It’s a journey….:) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Anne! I’m delighted the “before” and “after” worked for you! I was hoping they would make the post theme clearer. I appreciate your feedback!


    • Thank you so much, Cee! I’m so glad you like them and the topic. 🙂 🙂 I learn so much by looking at everyone’s shots. Your “new leaf” shot is wonderful.


  7. I really appreciate your lessons and examples (the horse photos are amazing). I have learned so much from you and the other fine photographers in Lens-Artists! I wonder if I subconsciously have been gravitating towards filling the frame with macro photography this past year. Getting closer to the details…whereas years ago it was distance shots I was after.
    Since I wanted to do the before and after shots you suggested, I didn’t go with macro shots this time. But fun all the same. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, OLU! I’m delighted that you find these posts helpful. I learn a lot by looking at everyone’s posts, too! You might be right about subconsciously moving in closer. That’s what happened to me. It was magical. I’ll check your post next.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No need to apologize, Abrie. We really understand how life can interfere with our best intentions! I’m glad you join us–no matter when! I’ll check your post next. I’m delighted my theme this week inspired you!


  8. Thanks again for a fun theme this week.
    It was fun t see the different takes on filling the frame ….
    And in your post- that peony is a top photo – I always think of that bloom as heavy and rather drooping – and your photo showed it proud….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Russell! I’m delighted that you enjoyed my post and that you’re joining us! Welcome! Next week, Ann-Christine will lead the challenge. The link to her site is at the end of my post. Our posts always go live at noon (EST) on Saturdays. See you then!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent assignment with remarkable examples Patti. Loved your before/after presentation. The horse is an excellent instance of the significance of the concept. Great post! Very quality photos! I frequently want to fill the body with info in my tour photography, to better display matters that I think are large for that place.
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    Liked by 1 person

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