Framing is a technique where you use something as a frame around your subject to draw the viewer’s eyes through the frame and to your subject; it is a way of focusing attention on your subject while hiding distracting elements around your subject. Framing can be something, natural or man-made, to partially or fully surround your subject or at least come in from one side and the top, thus framing on two sides. When first using framing, photographers make the mistake of not getting close enough to the subject. The subject has to almost fill the window created by the frame.
Natural framing could be overhanging tree branches, a gap between two boulders, a natural arch, etc. Man-made framing might be a doorway, arch, open window, bridge or a gap between buildings. By using framing in an image, you are restricting the field of view more than if you were not using a frame; framing restricts the number of elements in a scene, thereby drawing the viewer’s eye right to the subject.
For a flower shooting, try a different style of framing; capture flower images from their height. To do this, focus on the subject flower and select a small f-stop number for a very narrow depth-of-field. Position your camera so that there are flowers directly in front of and to the sides of the camera, but still a clear line of sight to your subject. Focus on your subject flower and shoot. The foreground flowers will be blurs of color while the subject will be in focus.
These out-of-focus flowers serve as a framing device thereby drawing the eyes to the focused subject. Remember, the human eye always goes to what is in focus. This technique works well if you have a young child sitting in a field of flowers.
Framing can also hide unwanted details in a scene such as power-lines, waste receptacles or anything attracting attention away from your main subject. By observing and trying different viewpoints, sometimes you can locate a frame that gets rid of these unwanted elements.
With framing, the direction of light is very important. If you are shooting with the sun to your back, in other words front lighting, the light will illuminate both the frame and subject. If the sun is from either side or coming from the back of the subject – back lighting, then your subject will be illuminated, but the frame will be a silhouette. Generally, it is better to spot meter your subject so it will be properly exposed and let the exposure of the frame fall where it may.
Framing adds a sense of scale to a subject. By using something for a frame that most people can associate with as far as how big that object is, the size of the subject or how far away the subject is from the camera becomes apparent. Without an object of a known size to relate to, the size or distance of the subject is harder to determine.
Framing is just another tool in your photographic toolbox. Learning how to use it will make the art of creating vibrant, exciting photographs enjoyable.