This post will look at how using natural objects and frames out in the field can create different perspectives and effects to your photography. Images that have natural shapes and lines in them are perfect to draw the viewer’s eyes into the image as it draws you towards the subject of the image in a natural way. Not only will this give your images a different look, but it will also allow you to think in a different way and perhaps allow you to find different angles and ways of photographing the next time you’re out in bush, helping to improve your photographic and creative thinking.
Looking at the image below, you can see that with this natural framing, it creates more of a focal point around the Lioness, creating this beautiful visual attraction and lead line to the focal point. Having this natural framing can also add a third dimension, allowing for a lot more depth which may separate the quality of your work to the next photographer. Naturally, you may not always have a choice but to include these added ‘distractions’, as with the below image she had been laying in this bush between the trees for some time and there was no other angle that we were able to see her from. Rather than put down the camera, I decided to work with this and make the most out of what I had in front of me, which at the end of the day gave me a fantastic and visually pleasing image. As with most wildlife portraits the main area of focus is the eye, and having eye contact in the image makes a major difference. This is one of the crucial factors that makes this image so appealing as her big yellow eye is staring right at the viewer and almost impossible to miss. Therefore having this blurred bush and grass in the foreground is less of a distraction, and more of an aid in creating this overall look as it fades out the foreground further and allows the viewer to solely focus on the Lioness’s face.
Lioness Stare – EXIF info: Canon EOS 7D mkii ; f5.6 ; 1/500 ss ; ISO 250 ; Focal Length: 400mm
This is where working in Aperture Priority (AV on Canon cameras) comes in handy, as with a quick change in your aperture you can change the affect that you are trying to create. The above photograph has a very shallow Depth of Field which allows for the bush in the foreground to be blurred out, as well as the dark branches in the background. This was achieved using the largest aperture available on the used lens at this focal length, which was f5.6 with the Canon 100-400L lens. If this image was taken with a smaller aperture, at for example f11, then this image would have been completely different. The foreground and background would have been more in focus, the eye of the Lioness would not have been such a major focal point and the overall image may have been less sharp as the shutter speed would have been reduced significantly due to the slower aperture.

Without having to use a smaller aperture, you can encompass more of the surroundings in focus with the same aperture value simply by changing the distance between yourself and your subject (or your zoom range). As aperture has a few factors that changes its effect, the distance between you and your subject is one of them. The image below of the Elephant walking through the trees was taken with the same aperture value of f5.6, but with a larger distance between myself and the subject, the natural framing of the tree tops have a completely different effect compared to that of the Lioness.

Elephant In The Forest – EXIF info: Canon EOS 450D ; f5.6 ; 1/160 ss ; ISO 200 ; Focal Length: 260mm

I could have used a smaller aperture with the above photograph to achieve more focus on the surrounding trees, however with the fact that the environment was darker between all of the trees, I had to use a larger aperture to increase my shutter speed as much as possible without raising my ISO. In hindsight I could have pushed my ISO further to around 800, used a smaller aperture and still achieved a fast enough shutter speed. The reason for not having done so was because of this being shot on an older model Canon that isn’t great at handling noise levels at what in modern DSLRs is considered still low ISO, such as ISO 800. Although with this Monochrome conversion the noise would not have been too much of an issue. This is how we shoot and learn and keep things exciting!

Till next time!