The Art of Photography 
Text and images Copyright © 1998 - 2000 John A. Lind

Framing

Framing is one of the common techniques used in creating an image that often goes unnoticed by the viewer, but greatly enhances the overall composition.  This technique views the subject through or around something.  The resulting psychological effect distances the viewer from the subject, and can create depth or enhance the feeling of being an unseen or unobtrusive observer.  Framing can also be used to provide balance or block out part of a large expanse of bright area in the image.  The first image was taken crouched under a tree.  Instead of moving forward to eliminate the tree from the photograph, overhanging branches were included to add depth, block out some of the bright sky and provide balance.  In the photograph of the old stone farmhouse, the framing using a treetrunk on the left is obvious, but the rest is more subtle.  Deeply shaded close tree branches at the very top blend with more distant branches and undergrowth in the immediate foreground.  The overall impression is peering at the house through layers of foliage from a distance, which is how this image was photographed after climbing through foot-tall undergrowth and dense wild shrubs to find this vantage point.  Including the closer foliage frames the house and gives the image more depth.  Framing in the third photograph of the covered bridge is obvious:  the fence section on the left, foreground riverbank at the bottom, and treetrunk on the right.  As with the other images, these add depth to the overall image and give the viewer a sense of distance from the bridge.  In addition, the horizontal fence rails lead the eye to the subject bridge in the distance.  Framing can be (and is) often used in conjuction with other techniques to enhance an image.  (See the Lines Section for details about how the horizontal fence rails are used as "leading lines.")