EDUCATOR'S GUIDE: REFRAMING AMERICA, Through the Eyes of Seven Immigrant Photographers

ANGLE, FRAMING, AND LIGHT
 

OBJECTIVES: Students learn to:


VOCABULARY: These terms are defined in the glossary.

angle
content
photography
birdís eye view
framing
viewfinder
composition
light
wormís-eye view


SETTING THE STAGE

Photographers make decisions about composition (design) and content (meaning) when creating a photograph. In order to have a photograph communicate his or her ideas clearly, an artist thinks about many things when taking the photograph and when printing the photograph in the darkroom. Three important things the artist thinks about are the angle, framing, and light.

For this activity, each student will need a viewfinder. Copy enough forms so that each student has one. Demonstrate how to cut along the dotted lines to create the opening of the viewfinder. Explain to your students that when they look through this opening they will see subjects the same way that a photographer does when looking through the viewfinder of a camera.
 

ACTIVITY: ANGLE

Introduce the concept of angle. Explain that the angle is the direction from which the artist photographs the subject. The angle from which a photograph is taken influences the composition of the work, as well as the content.

Ask your students to look through their viewfinders at a person or object at eye level. Then ask them to view the same subject from a variety of different angles. Have them observe how the subject appears to change as they change their viewing angles. To guide your students in a discussion, ask questions like:

Collection Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona © John Gutmann After your students have had time to experiment with their viewfinders, look at Elevator Garage. Chicago by John Gutmann. To guide your students in a discussion, ask questions like:
  • From what angle did the photographer take this picture? How do you know? 
  • What effect does the angle have on the way you view the subject? 
  • How would the photograph have changed if it was taken from a different angle? A birdís-eye view?

ACTIVITY: FRAMING

Introduce the concept of framing. Explain that framing is another technique that affects the composition and content of a photograph. The photographer frames the subject by determining what the edges of the photograph will be. Looking through the viewfinder of the camera helps the photographer decide what to include and what not to include within the pictureís frame (boundaries).

Ask your students to look through their viewfinders to frame a person or object as if they were taking a photograph. Have them hold their vewfinders close to their faces and look at their subjects from a distance. They should move the viewfinders slightly away from their faces or move closer to their subjects until part(s) are cut off or cropped from their view. Next have them move in very close to their subjects until they can see only a small part. Suggest that they turn their viewfinders so that they have tall (vertical) frames or wide (horizontal) frames.

To guide your students in a discussion, ask questions like:

Collection Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona © Martin Magner After they have had time to experiment with their viewfinders, look at Washington, D.C., In the Shadow of the Capitol by Marion Palfi with your students. Discuss how the framing of the subject contributes to the photograph.
To guide your students in a discussion, ask questions like:
  • To what in the photograph does the frame draw your attention?
  • What do you think might be outside the frame of this photograph?
  • How do you feel about the living conditions of these children? Is the effect of the photograph more powerful because you are able to see the nationís Capitol building in background? Why?
  • Why do you think the photographer included the Capitol building in the picture? What does it symbolize?
  • Would you feel the same way if the photographer had not included the Capitol building within the frame of the photograph? Discuss. 

 
© 1998 Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation
ACTIVITY: LIGHT
 
 

Light is an important part of any photograph. It shows details, creates shadows, and often contributes to the mood or feeling of the work. When taking a photograph, the photographer can work with natural light, such as sunlight, or set up artificial light with equipment such as bulbs and reflective surfaces.

Look at The Window Washer by Otto Hagel and discuss the light within the photograph

To guide your students in a discussion, ask questions like:
  • Does the light seem to be natural or artificial? How can you tell?
  • From what direction is the light coming? What clues in the photograph help you determine the direction from which the light is coming?
  • How would you describe the light in this photograph (natural, artificial, even, uneven, bright, harsh, dim, hazy, clear, etc.)?
  • Does the light contribute to the mood or feeling of the work? If so, how?

 
Courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, © John Gutmann
ACTIVITY: PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Look at the Portrait of Count Basie. San Francisco by John Gutmann and discuss how the angle, framing, and light contribute to the composition and content of the photograph.

   

 

http://www.creativephotography.org    This page last updated August 25, 1999.   oncenter@ccp.library.arizona.edu


| Contents | Angle, Framing, and Light  | Learning to Look | Alexander Alland | Robert Frank | John Gutmann | Otto Hagel and Hansel Mieth | Lisette Model | Marion Palfi | Glossary | Acknowledgements | CCP Home |
Center for Creative Photography · The University of Arizona · Tucson, Arizona 85721-0103 · Phone: 520-621-7968