World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Headroom (photographic framing)

Article Id: WHEBN0023381809
Reproduction Date:

Title: Headroom (photographic framing)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Lead room, Snoot, Jitter (optics), BeetleCam, OpenRAW
Collection: Broadcast Engineering, Composition in Visual Art, Photographic Techniques
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Headroom (photographic framing)

In photography, headroom or head room is a concept of aesthetic composition that addresses the relative vertical position of the subject within the Framing (visual arts) of the image. Headroom refers specifically to the distance between the top of the subject's head and the top of the frame, but the term is sometimes used instead of lead room, nose room or 'looking room'[1] to include the sense of space on both sides of the image. The amount of headroom that is considered aesthetically pleasing is a dynamic quantity; it changes relative to how much of the frame is filled by the subject. The rule of thumb taken from classic portrait painting techniques,[2] called the "rule of thirds",[3][4] is that the subject's eyes, or the center of interest, is ideally positioned one-third of the way down from the top of the frame.[5] Moving images such as movie cameras and video cameras have the same headroom issues as still photography, but with the added factors of the movement of the subject, the movement of the camera, and the possibility of zooming in or out.

Perceptual psychological studies have been carried out with experimenters using a white dot placed in various positions within a frame to demonstrate that observers attribute potential motion to a static object within a frame, relative to its position. The unmoving object is described as 'pulling' toward the center or toward an edge or corner.[6] Proper headroom is achieved when the object is no longer seen to be slipping out of the frame—when its potential for motion is seen to be neutral in all directions.

Headroom changes as the camera zooms in or out, and the camera must simultaneously tilt up or down to keep the center of interest approximately one-third of the way down from the top of the frame.[5] The closer the subject, the less headroom needed.[7] In extreme close-ups, the top of the head is out of the frame,[1] but the concept of headroom still applies via the rule of thirds.

In television broadcast camera work, the amount of headroom seen by the production crew is slightly greater than the amount seen by home viewers, whose frames are reduced in area by about 5%.[1] To adjust for this, broadcast camera headroom is slightly expanded so that home viewers will see the correct amount of headroom.[1] Professional video camera viewfinders and professional video monitors often include an overscan setting to compare between full screen resolution and "domestic cut-off"[1] as an aid to achieving good headroom and lead room.

One of the most common mistakes that casual camera users make is to have too much headroom: too much space above the subject's head.[8]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Roy. Grammar of the shot, Focal Press, 1998, p. 64. ISBN 0-240-51398-3
  2. ^ Hurter, Bill. The Best of Portrait Photography: Techniques and Images from the Pros, Amherst Media, Inc, 2003, p. 38. ISBN 1-58428-101-4
  3. ^ Camera Terms, Retrieved on June 25, 2009.
  4. ^ Framing, Retrieved on June 25, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Barbash, Ilisa; Taylor, Lucien. Cross-cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Videos, University of California Press, 1997, p. 97. ISBN 0-520-08760-7
  6. ^ Ward, Peter. Picture composition for film and television, Elsevier, 2003, p. 84. ISBN 0-240-51681-8
  7. ^ Millerson, 1994, p. 80.
  8. ^, digital photography. Basic Rules of Photography, Retrieved on June 25, 2009.

Further reading

  • Millerson, Gerald. Video camera techniques, Focal Press, 1994, p. 80. ISBN 0-240-51376-2
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.