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Framing Your Picture For Better Results

May 23, 2008
Using a frame can turn an otherwise boring picture into a visually pleasing one. Many times a foreground element can be used to create the frame. Some examples include an overhanging tree branch, a window frame, a door, arches, a fence, rows of trees, etc.

A frame serves to isolate your main subject and create an interesting composition. Oftentimes, it's the feeling of depth you're after. You may choose to keep the detail of the frame (as in a wall, fence or branch), or let the frame go completely dark (as in a window frame).

When you are composing a shot, keep your eyes open to foreground (and sometimes, even middle or background) objects that can be used as a natural frame. You may need to physically back up a bit, kneel down for a more pleasant composition, or zoom in to include your subject within your chosen frame.

Framing can also be done after the fact by combining two or more pictures in an image editing software. Very dramatic effects can be accomplished this way and you are only limited by your imagination.

Please keep one thing in mind when using photo editing software; while there is nothing inherently wrong with combining different images to create a new photograph, please be very careful about employing artificial frames on identifiable scenes and landscapes.

An extreme example of this warning would be to frame the Statue of Liberty by the St. Louis Arch. The picture will not look right unless your purpose is to create dissonance within your viewers' mind.

The next time you take your shot, look around and see if there is an object that you can use as a natural frame. Try to take a picture without the frame, and another one with the frame, and then compare the two. I would bet money that you will like the one with the frame better!
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