Composition and Framing

During 2020 I ran a photography challenge over on my travel blog looking at different techniques throughout the year. I was not expecting that the year itself would prove to be a challenge in that the Covid-19 pandemic hit us and not only put paid to any travel plans, but also altered the way in which we conducted our lives. This year I am going to look at those techniques again using new photographs as and when I get the opportunity.

January was about considering how we should use composition and framing in a photograph.

Seal Portraits

When it comes to wildlife Godrevy Point is best known for the large Grey Seal colony in Mutton Cove.

Grey Seals can be seen throughout the year, often close in to the rocks. Their numbers begin increasing in the autumn and by January well over a hundred may be hauled out in Mutton Cove, located on the northern side of the headland. Signs and notices on the way to the point inform you about the seals and how to behave so that you do not disturb them. This includes keeping quiet and also not attempting to get close to them. Your first sighting of the seals is from the top of the very steep cliff – at first you might think that the beach is simply full of rocks. And often that is the case with maybe one or two seals in the water or actually resting on a rock. On January 5th though, as the tide was turning, the beach was covered with around 200 seals.

Clearly identify your subject. Begin by explaining your choice. How will you draw attention to it?
Move in closer to your subject, but not too close. Lead the viewer towards the subject.
Get in closer still. Decide whether to use the vertical or horizontal aspect ratio. Image orientation produces different emphases and can alter the whole dynamic of a shot.
Simplify your image. What is it that you want the viewer to focus on?

From a distance the seals can look like rocks, they blend in very easily. As you zoom in though you notice the shape and colours of the animals. My last shot has been edited as the more I zoom on the phone the less clear the subject is.

If you would like to have a look at the different techniques covered throughout the year then you can see them here. Please note that I am not running this as a challenge, but merely using the old one as inspiration for my photography this year.


  1. Thank you for sharing your approach to the challenge – fascinating images and an unusual subject! I’m in a photography study group and we discuss some of these same options, so it is fun to see your thought process.

  2. pommepal says:

    I did think they were rocks in the header photo, till I looked closer. What an amazing phenomenon

  3. Fun and informative, Jude. They reminded me of shells. 🙂


  4. Tina Schell says:

    A wonderful example of a thoughtful approach to composition Jude – nicely done. Expecially challenging when there is so much content in one place, offering so many options for the photographer. Did you find out why so many that one day? Curious.

  5. Jane Lurie says:

    Great shots of the seals, Jude. As you know they are common on the CA coast. So interesting to photograph and observe.

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