FAST Framing with grids


Drying Coffee Beans in the sun.

The Tic-tac-toe grid is a familiar tool every photographer can use.

Composition aids are hugely valuable as they provide that moment to THINK if framing could be better. The trick is to think FAST and place the center of attention on one of the four intersections in the grid. By not placing your subject in the center of your frame your work will instantly improve by giving your viewer’s natural eye movement opportunity to explore your image.  This grid is based on the compositional “Rule of Thirds“.

Coffee plantation workers turning the beans in the sun is a good example of tic-tac-toe compostion.

The photographer has framed the plantation workers in the upper left quadrant of his viewfinder. This suggests they have a long way to go before they are finished.

Consider how this image would change if the workers were framed in the lower right*.

That frame might suggest they were nearly done for the day and what a fine and neat job they’ve accomplished under the hot sun. Invoking emotion or a feeling of direction through composition is an important skill. By simply learning to use your camera’s overlay grids or imagining tic-tac-toe while you frame up your image, you are using photographer THINK to make better pictures. By removing unnecessary elements you can increase the Signal to Noise value  of your artistic message.

Working on assignment in Brazil to document coffee plantations for Nabisco, the photographer wanted to convey a sense of beginning to the story.  There are thousands of vantage points for this plantation activity. The choice of an elevated view enhances the graphic lines created by the rows of beans. The fence behind add contrasting color and angles to make the image more interesting.

THINK about composition and FRAME. Look around for a new place to view the subject. Intend to make a unique picture FAST.

Note:  Tic-Tac-Toe grids for composition are also known as the Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio.

Smartphone Tip:  Remember F.A.S.T.– F is for FRAME.

DSLR Tip:  Compact Digital TIP:  Many cameras offer an overlay grid for you to experiment with. Get familiar with your camera settings and practice using it.

*To keep the fence and lines in place the photographer could wait until the workers move into position,
patience being a photographers very best friend, or move to a location where things worked with that framing.

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