Out-of-Frame: Final How-To’s

Today we wrap up the discussion of out-of-frame images.

Yesterday’s post showed how to make a OOF, where the frame was created post-capture in Photoshop. How about a OOF where the frame is actually part of the image capture?

Remember this image? You should since I featured it several days ago. Let’s see how this was done.

Here’s what the table top still life setup looked like when I made this “real OOF” – black backdrop and a real mat (held in place by “helping hands”). Just frame it all in your viewfinder, leaving out the helping hands, and you’re done. For my original purpose (altered image competition) this version would have been an illegal entry since it wasn’t altered.


For my grand finale how about this OOF – it’s a double exposure – to add to the other two approaches shown yesterday and today.

It was made by combining the following two images –

Is that enough? More about framing of every sort than you ever wanted to know….

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Out-of-Frame: A How-To

The past 10 posts have illustrated images that I call out-of-frame (OOF). Today we have a How-To so that you can make your own. Tomorrow a variation on the theme.

How is OOF done? Open up any image editor capable of doing layers (any flavor of Photoshop will do) and follow along.

Step #1 – Select an image that might lend itself to having part of the image OOF. As shown in the previous post’s examples, the portion that extends over the frame can be a single side, two sides – or even all four sides. Depending on what the image might support, it’s your choice (but note – many images do not lend themselves to OOF at all).

This formation of geese will do.

Step #2 – Place a white rectangle on a layer above your original image. This rectangle later will form one of the four sides of your frame (or the photo’s mat if you prefer). Size the overlay to cover what ever you want to extend beyond the frame.

Step #3 – Erase the white where it covers the parts of the original image that you want to appear out of the frame.

Step #4 – Add additional framing (matting). Note that this added portion does not cover the original image. It simply adds a mat around the remaining edges. I’m showing this in two steps (4 & 5) because I find it’s easier this way when using PS’s Re-size Canvas option, but it can be done in a single step if you want.

Step #5 – Complete the “matting”.

Step #6 – Add color and/or texture to give a realistic photo-mat appearance. Also, add a simulated mat “bevel”. These “realism” touches can be as simple or sophisticated as you like (for example, directional shadow lighting on certain sides of the bevel and in the texture).

Step #7 – For a final touch of realism, add shadows appropriate to the OOF element. If you’ve added shadows in your mat texture and bevel from the previous step then you’ll want to ensure that the light direction for these step #7 shadows match.

And that’s it – you’re done.

Background – I developed OOF 10 years ago when I competed and needed an occasional entry for a category called “altered image” (otherwise known as Photoshop-ed).

  • I preferred showing my work more or less as it came from the camera rather than how it looked after undergoing some “artistic filtering” that I wasn’t very good at to begin with. Thus was born OOF.
  • Competition-wise it was a huge success in that I entered one of these on eight separate occasions and each got a ribbon of some sort. I was amused by the number of judges who actually got up from their chair, walked up to within a foot of the print (this was a print competition where OOF is more effective – deceptive – than a projected image), and ran their finger over it.

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Abstract Art and Photography

It happens. Almost a foot of snow from midnight to 6 AM. Another foot is forecast for today. If you’re in a similar situation, or just want some pleasant diversion, here’s a show I did three years ago for a large photo club (the meeting was canceled due to snow).

Followers of this site know that I like abstract photography. It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, more of an acquired-taste, but worthwhile exploring for the benefits it will bring to your photography in general. Why else would abstracts be covered on a site called Photography Improvement? 😉

Here’s a multimedia presentation I made for several photography clubs in Feb 2014

Click the image for

A set of three multimedia videos

Slightly OT – What famous artist popularized “selfies” hundreds of years ago?

That, among other interesting tidbits, is revealed in part-1-of-3


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A re-post from 5-years ago…

Just something to break the photo-a-day monotony

A Mandala

The mandala began with this next image ( growing in my water garden)

The transformation, in Photoshop, went as follows –

– Crop off the bottom to leave a square
– Duplicate this square 3 times

  • Rotated 1 copy 90 degrees CW
  • Rotated 1 copy 90 degrees CCW
  • Rotated 1 copy 180 degrees

– There are now 4 squares, one rotated to each of the 4 possible rotations

  • Set the blending mode for each to Overlay
  • Flatten the 4 layers to make a single image layer
  • Duplicate this new layer
  • Flip the new layer vertically
  • Set its blending mode to overlay

–  Flatten these two layers

– Adjust color & tonal contrast to taste
– Crop to a circle
– Fill the border with a color that suits
– and – it’s finished.

To summarize the above

The final image is a blended composite of all eight possible orientations of the original square image

This is my recipe for creating a photo mandala. When I first tried this several years ago, it seemed to be the natural (intuitive?) way to do it in Photoshop (at least for someone who doesn’t use PS much).

When writing this post I Googled to see what others did – and was surprised that no one else did it this way (that I found). The “standard” involved cutting a triangular wedge from the starting photo & repeatedly copying, pasting, and moving each new wedge to a position alongside the others

much like if you cut a pie into 12-15 slices, took them out of the pie plate and then put them all back together again. That approach results in something like this –

Whatever floats your boat. 😉

Here is my first mandala from May 2007 together with its starting image. Same technique as today’s.

Done my way, its difficult to imagine the final result. Every one is a surprise. I’ve found that simple starting images like this tree and the flower in the featured image work best – at least for my taste. Busier images end up looking – well, too busy, all a big jumble like this next one –

A GIF Winter Wonderland

Animated images, GIFS, have existed for 25 years, but it’s only been in the last 2-3 years that they’ve become popular – web news and social media are the drivers. Would you like to learn how to make GIFS from your photos? Easy-peasy!

This is an intro to a short series on creating GIF images. In the next several posts return with me to January 2012 when I originally did this series (ahead of my time 😉 ).

Today, in anticipation of a potentially record-breaking snow event here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., I’ll begin & end the post with an example. Subsequent posts will show how to do this on your own.

winter wonderland


Made while I was out wandering in a heavy snow.

Loved the experience – peaceful, still, no people

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Soft Focus Spring Closeups

This an extract from a five year old post. It follows the macro theme of yesterday’s post. It was done in the spring while, here & now, our first major snow of the winter is two days away – and the real-feel is near zero. Enjoy the faux-spring blossoms.

I love doing macros – especially flowers. Spring has sprung around here & I was out & about for several hours today with my camera checking out the flora.

My most used lens for this type of shooting is a Nikkor 105mm 2.8 macro although I occasionally use a Canon 500D closeup lens or a 1.4X teleconverter on one of my other lenses.

  • I recently bought a set of extension tubes and last year bought a Tokina 50-135 2.8 lens.
  • I decided to stick a 36mm extension tube on this lens and see what I could see.
  • The lesson? Images like this don’t absolutely need a macro lens.

Here’s a Japanese Cherry Blossoms image (why drive an hour to DC – with no parking – when I can shoot this in my neighbor’s yard?).

  • DOF of field was almost non-existent which is fine since that’s the way I prefer shots like this (of course keeping the wind-blown blossoms anywhere near in focus was tricky).
  • Gitzo tripod, Nikon D300, Tokina 50-135 lens at 135mm, Kenko 36mm extension tube, and
  • 1/40 sec at f/2.8, ISO200, EV0.0, Center weighted metering, Aperture priority exposure mode, Cloudy warm white balance.
  • Blossoms about 18″ from camera sensor plane.
  • RAW image converted in Nikon Capture NX2.

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