Framing - A Treatise On How A Frame Can Improve A Photo


Framing - A Treatise On How A Frame Can Improve A Photo

This article was posted about 9 months ago, but since A.Mac and I decided to set up the "Group Pages" as a permanent and easily accessible manual of technique, it is posted again here.

There are few words in the English language that can have as many meanings as the word "frame". According to Dictionary.com, there are 21 different meanings as a noun, and 15 different uses as a verb. I will deal only with one meaning: a surrounding border around a picture (or within the picture). One may ask, why is a frame necessary? Actually, it ISN'T necessary, but in many cases it can make a photo look more attractive, or more distinguished, or more stark, or more fun, or more important, or more appropriate (such as a wedding photo), or even resemble a vintage photo, and so on.

Frames can be what I would call "internal", in other words part of the photograph itself, accomplished by shooting a photo through some natural or created structure while retaining part of that structure around the edges of the photo. In that case it may not be considered necessary to add what I would call an "external" frame, i.e. one that is added by means of editing, but in many cases adding an extenal frame to a photo with an internal one does improve the total presentation.

Here are a number of examples of both "internal" frames and of my attempt to match frames to those photos to perhaps improve the total impression, then perhaps not, and then frameless photos are posted followed by my attempt in each case to improve the presentation by adding a frame.

1.   Here we see a natural frame, an existing one.

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Does it make a more desirable presentation by editing the exact same photo to add a frame?

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2.   A natural existing frame.

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Enhanced by adding another.

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3.   Colour coding

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With a coloured frame to match the natural frame.

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4.   A strong use of the existing natural frame

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Is this a better presentation?

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5.   A very strong natural frame

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Can still be improved, with a strong frame

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6.   A nice photo, but....

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...but it needs containment.

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7.   Which of these exact same photos do you prefer?

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As Oskar Schindler said in the movie Schindler's List:  It's panache, the presentation.

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8.   Certainly a beautiful photo as is.

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More than one possibility, either vignette...

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...or frame.

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9.   Especially if there is a fairly colourless border...

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...it is better to define it.

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10.   In a desaturated photo (although this was originally a B&W photo)...

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...it's best to use a strong frame that matches the strong objects, in this case the barns and the trees.

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11.   And then there are specialty frames

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In this case for a wedding photo

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12.   To provide a vintage or antique look

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13.   Or even a Christmas photo

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14.

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15.   Sometimes just a plain black line is enough.

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