It’s Week 37 of professional pet photography blog circle Project 52. This week we our topic is “understand visual mass.” We’re covering another chapter from “The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographers” by David DuChemin as we’ve been doing for most of this year. Visual mass is the pull items have in a frame. Some elements have more pull than others in drawing the viewer’s eye. Some of the things to think about when considering visual mass are the size of objects relative to each other, contrast of elements (is something brighter? is it darker?), and is an item sharp (in focus) or blurry (out of focus). There are other considerations as well, but these are some of the basics.

As you can see in this first image of Mr. Bojangles taken at our favorite local park, the angle makes him the largest item in the frame. he’s also sharp and lighter than the trees or rocks, so he has the most visual mass.

The next image has more elements going on. The flowers, relative to Mr. Bojangles, take up more visual space in the frame; however, with the position of Mr. Bojangles being in the center on the colorful rock and being framed by the flowers on either side, he draws more visual mass even though he is a smaller part of the frame.

This last image of Mr. Bojangles is in the same location but now is closer up, so he is much large in the frame. Because of his position on top of the colorful rock and his light-colored fur, he stands out among the greenery, pulling more visual mass.

I’m also including a few images I took of Mr. Bojangles last year as a way of further exploring the topic of visual mass. The first image is another one from our favorite local park (and Mr. Bojangles is wearing the same orange harness.) Mr. Bojangles, once again, pulls the eye to him because of his light color against the background, as well as by being the only figure in the image.

These next two images from last year were taken at two different times at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal. The first image was taken in the Spring (as there’s no water in the fountain). In this image there are two elements to pay attention to as far as visual mass. First, is the building itself. Because it looms so large in the image it has quite a bit of visual mass. The next element is, of course, Mr. Bojangles. With his very small size in comparison to Union Terminal, you would think he has little visual mass, but because he is the lightest element in the image (as well as the only figure) he pulls the eye towards him, but only after you see the building first.

The last image, taken last August at the iconic Union Terminal (also known as the Cincinnati Museum Center) has Mr. Bojangles as the main element with visual mass. Because he is at close range and the lightest and brightest object, he draws the eye. While in the previous image you see the building first and then your eye is drawn to Mr. Bojangles, in this one it is the opposite.

Now, to see the pull of more visual mass, head over to BARKography by Kim Hollis based out of Charlotte, NC, and then around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session in your home or other favorite location, use the hot pink “BOOK NOW” button to the right of this post (at the bottom or your screen on mobile), send us an email to suzi [at], or give us a call at 513-288-1650 in the Greater Cincinnati area or at 650-382-3242 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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