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Compose and Frame!

Welcome to my write up on composition and framing! This is a widely discussed topic and highly opinionated as well. In this blog I am sharing my thoughts on how i compose my images on and off the field and some of the leanings i would like to share with you all. If you like it let me know in the comments below and if you would like to share a technique of your own then please share it with me in the comments!

Center of frame composition

This is a very specific type of composition that is not seen on a regular basis! It is mostly used when the subject is directly looking into the frame like the flying burrowing owl in the image below. However i would not compose the roadside hawk on the left in a central composition like this.

Rule of thirds

I have used the same image from above to demonstrate how i would compose the image. I will follow the most common rule of framing in photography to compose this subject and would leave ample space in front of the bird, which in this case is on the right. This is my most preferred way of composing wildlife.

Here is another example of a Red Eyed Leaf Frog from Costa Rica that I have composed using the rule of 3rds.

Just to re-emphasize my point i have used the below composition to demonstrate how i would frame a bird using the rule of thirds.

Tight Composition

The next type of composition is where the crop if really tight and barely any space around the subject. There might be several reasons why such a composition can be chosen -

a. Distracting elements around the subject

b. Emphasis on subject

c. Details

d. Behavior

I have used 3 images here to show you what i mean. In each of the images there is only a single point of emphasis - the subject. The attention of the viewer goes straight to the subject!

Distracting backgrounds

This should have been somewhere on the top but I intentionally left it here in case you were blankly scrolling past the blog! (Lol!) As you can see in the below images there is a world of difference just by moving a couple of steps to the left. Many new photographers make this mistake of shooting as soon as they see their subject without checking the bg! If you do that more often than not you will come back with an image like the one on the left. However, with experience one will learn how to select a nicer bg by moving a bit on either side of the subject. Again in wildlife photography things happen, birds fly away, there are more people around you but my point here is if you can then you should do it!

Needless cropping

I have seen so many images on social media where people just needlessly cropped images where they left out a part of the tail, or wings or even head sometimes! Ask yourself - is it necessary!


“Creativity takes courage. ”

Henri Matisse

That saying is what changed it all for me! I have finally started working on images with much more creativity than just mugshots! I save some of them for contests and other prints but to me, this is probably my most favorite form of photography!

More examples of this owl peeping out of the palm tree and gave me an angle that I had to create by heading to a spot that the other photographers were not shooting from! You have to be quick!

Top angle

The top angle is a perspective that is usually not easy to achieve and for good reason. Most of the time in the forest photographers cannot reach a point where they can be vertically on top of their subjects but on unique occasions like the 2 images below I was able to get directly on top of them to get this unique perspective! Try it when you can! You will not regret it!

Eye level photography

Being directly in the same line of our targets gives us a perspective like non-other! This is one of the most popular styles of photography for most bird photographers. In the images below you can clearly see the difference, one was shot from the safari vehicle and the other when I was completely flat on my chest eye level with the bird. The nice blue hues from the background and completely out of focus foreground makes the image more pleasing to the eye!

More examples of eye level photography!

One of my clients shooting in the Ecuadorian Amazon!

The result is from a different perch but same location.

Eye contact

A lot of times during my tours I emphasize eye contact, especially to new photographers! The reason is simple, an eye contact establishes a connection with the viewers. In both the below images, one can clearly see how the birds looking into the camera have made a more appealing visual for the viewers!


Few things to remember and consider: a. I always choose aspect ratio cropping. b. Cropping in tight or lose depends on the subject and situation I am in c. A tight crop usually helps keep the viewers focus on the subject d. A loose crop shows more habitat and a more pleasing composition Both types of cropping have their own charm!

2 images demonstrating a vertical crop!

2 images demonstrating a loose crop

2 images demonstrating a situation based crop

Tell a story!

Photography is not just about likes and awards and recognition. The life of an image on social media is probably less than a few hours (sometimes less) but for a story to live on forever, it needs to tell a story. Below are 4 images of scarlet macaws I photographed in the amazon area. Each picture tells a different story and can have completely different impacts based on the mood and content they go with. How you choose to tell your story completely depends on you!

A good story always goes the distance.

If you enjoyed this blog please let me know in the comments below. If you have questions please let me know in the comments below. If you are on Instagram and do not follow me yet please take a look at my page, maybe you will change your mind :-)



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