Visual mass

Michael Laubscher All Authors, Michael 2 Comments

In the past weeks I have put out blogs that all come down to the same thing in the end. This was what do you want your audience to look at?

By simplifying your work by eliminating distraction and using different focal lengths because less is more. 

I’ve said this in the previous blogs and I will say it again; the questions that you should ask is;

“What do I want my viewer to look at?”

What visual mass are you including in your image?

What is visual mass you may ask?

Visual mass refers to how much something in your image ‘pulls’ your eye. The more an element in your frame pulls your eye, the more visual mass it is said to have.

In order for you to understand this better, have a look at this next image and tell me what draws your eyes?

Absolutely nothing right? Your eyes kept jumping around because there was nothing to focus on, meaning there is no visual mass in that image.

Okay the next couple of images will have some form of visual mass in them…

Eyes immediately focused on the square correct?

What about in this next one?

I bet you your eyes bounced from left to right and right to left?

How will size affect this?

Your eyes move towards the larger square first right? So size plays a big roll when looking at visual mass.

What about contrast?

Because the background is white your eyes will focus on the darker square even though its much smaller than the larger lighter square due to the high contrast of it.

How do you think colour will affect things?

This proves to us that a bright colour is a lot more powerful than contrast and size because I know your eyes fell on the yellow square first.

So think of this next time you are out in the field and when you are out taking pictures you can manipulate the visual mass of the elements in your frame to create stronger, visually appealing images.


What you should consider when looking through your frame to try increase the amount of visual mass in your image;

– Is there a human figure in the frame because this will draw attention before anything else (Body – Face – Eyes)

– Look for large objects before small subjects.

– Is there a lot of contrast? (bright objects on dark or dark objects on light).

– Make sure you have elements that are sharp and in focus because that will attract the eye before fuzzy, out of focus ones.

– Are there elements that are recognisable?

– Make sure of your placement in the frame, remember rule of thirds.

– Is there colour in a scene?

– Are there elements of emotional significance.

During that thought process above always remember what do you want your viewer to look at?

The idea is then to show this to your viewer in a subtle but intentional way.

Finally here are some considerations during post processing;

The following will pull the eye:

– Brightness

– Saturation

– Sharpness

The following will push the eye:

– Dark areas

– Desaturated areas

– Soft /unsharp areas

This is the basic panel in Lightroom and these are a few tools that will help enhance the visual mass of your image.

Last ting, while post processing, do not over do think it and do not over do it! Keep it as natural as possible.

Until next time.

Happy snapping!


About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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Comments 2

    1. Post
      Michael Laubscher

      Hello Sallie!

      Thank you for taking the time to read it, I am glad it helped you and thank you for the kind words!

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