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V1 Issue 1

Icing On The Cake By Sam

Icing On The Cake By Sam Tarrel, M.Photog.Cr, CPP, FP-OR has always been a reference used to “The icing on the cake” describe that little extra bit of goodness an item or given situation may have. I think we can all agree that cake is usually pretty good, but having that icing really puts it over the edge as far as sweet indulgences go. The same thing applies to one of the most overlooked elements in image competition: Presentation. Presentation is one of those elements that many people, particularly newer competitors, don’t understand. This lack of understanding usually leads to frustration, which usually leads to dismissal. However, while dismissing this seemingly innocuous little twelfth element may not make or break an image, it certainly does not HELP an image. The goal with any presentation is to enhance an image and its strengths, while not distracting from the image or exposing weaknesses in it. The rule of thumb to achieve this can be summed up in one word: Subtlety. All presentations need to be subtle, and save for rare occasions, a bold, in-your-face presentation will usually do nothing but hurt what could otherwise be a great image! This subtlety comes in two forms: 1. The size of the mat and keyline 2. The color of the mat and keyline. First, it might be helpful to understand exactly what a mat and keyline are. By definition, a mat is a piece of material placed over or under a photograph to serve as a frame, or provide a border between the picture and the frame. A keyline is defined as a yellow lime with a bitter rather than sour taste . . . . oh wait, no no no – that’s a key LIME. A keyline, in graphic design, is a boundary line that separates color and monochromatic areas or differently colored areas. So, does size matter? For image competition, I would certainly say, yes! When it comes to the size of the mat, this can vary depending on the feel you’re trying to convey through the image. If you have an image that you’re trying to convey space, uncertainty, inadequateness, being small or insignificant then a larger mat may be a great tool to help enhance those feelings within an image. If the opposite were your goal however, where you wanted to give a feeling of grandeur, confidence, size and intensity, then a smaller mat may be a great choice to help enhance that! 18 • FOCUS OREGON

As a standard though, a mat shouldn’t be too big or too small (insert Goldilocks reference here). The image below has a very “standard” sized mat, and you will notice that it doesn’t exactly enhance any feature of the image itself, but simply provides a nice frame for which the image to exist in. Sam Tarrel When it comes to color choices of mats and keylines, both should be colors sampled from within the image, but the mat in particular should almost act as an extension of the image itself. This certainly isn’t always the case, but a good mat color is one that is predominant usually in the background elements of the image. It’s also important to keep the mat and keylines “in key” with the image. For most images that are mid to low-key, this means your mat should be sampled from a darker area of the image. If the image is a high-key image, then the opposite would be true, and you would want to sample from a brighter point in the image for the mat color. You’ll also notice how thin the size of the keyline is. A thin keyline, and in this case, a double keyline should serve to simply give finality to the world within which the image exists. It shows us where the image starts, and where it stops. If the image to the left didn’t have a keyline, it would look as if the subjects were just cut in half and disappeared from the waist down. By having the keyline there, it tells the viewer that there is more to this world that we just cannot see, and helps keep the eye in the image where it belongs. However, if the size of the keyline were much larger, as pictured in the image below, it begins to draw our eye to the line itself, and take us out of the image, which is the opposite of what a properly done keyline should do. Sam Tarrel When choosing a keyline color, it should be something that isn’t far off from the mat color. Often times keeping the color the same, and simply choosing a slightly brighter, or in the case of a high-key image - a darker color, for the keyline is the best course of action. Notice in the image to the left, we have a double mat along with a keyline, but the colors that make up all three are very similar with just a slight variance in tonality. Sam Tarrel SPRING 2018 FOCUS OREGON • 19

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