the photoshooter's journey from taking to making


Using interior details as a customized "frame" for your shots of outside subjects can make your pictures less "pre-cropped".

Using interior details as a customized “frame” for your shots of outside subjects can make your pictures less “pre-cropped”.


I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HIGH-WIRE ACT THAT RESULTS when shooters try to create balances between interior and exterior detail. It’s easy to shoot through a window, either looking in or looking out. And, in composing our subject, we often try to eliminate the framing created by the window itself, thinking of this as extraneous information, a natural cropping guide. Trim, if you will. And sometimes that is the best possible decision.

However, there are situations when a framing that melds inside and outside elements actually makes the shot, and the fun comes when you decide to compose a shot comprised of both kinds of information. Evenness of exposure becomes a significant problem, since there is usually a strong contrast between the two planes. Looking out a window, you have no big sweat exposing for the back yard, but, if you are also going to include the children looking longingly out at that yard from inside a room, challenges will arise.

In recent years, HDR has allowed photographers to shoot a bracketed series of shots with different exposure rates, blending them into a composite that at least allows detail and natural color in all areas of the frame. The look can quickly veer into surreal fantasy, however, so, if your goal is not to call attention to your technique (that is, appear as if you did nothing special at all) you may have to craft another solution.

If the contrasts between your inside world and your outside world are not too severe, you may be amazed at how automode shots on DSLRs and mobiles will deliver a fairly balanced exposure. This allows for more saved “on the fly” photos shot in the moment. If you have more advance time to prepare, you can invent your own lighting scheme and tweak things further. The thing to consider combining the competing worlds of in and out. It allows you to further customize the viewing experience, getting a fuller sense of a total scene, or even programming in some selective mystery.

And, hey, push comes to shove, you can always crop it later.


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