Framing a Scene

Niagara Falls State Park, USA

Foreground of Roses at Niagara Falls

Here are a handful of images to illustrate a compositional technique I use, often without even thinking about it, but it is one to give much thought to make nicely composed photographs. It is more a general design tip, rather than a photography tip. If I was speaking to photography I would illustrate maybe a little differently. For instance, framing draws attention to a subject by blocking a portion of it like above or encasing it like below.

We most often think of framing like viewing out a window to a scene, but showing the window frame itself. It is very effective and makes for a nice image. Here is the view outside my powder room. Not a good illustration, but it works in a quick pinch.

This framing technique adds additional interest to a shot. Not like the brink of the Falls needs any help, but it gives another facet to the experience by using the roses in the foreground.  It also gives depth by layering, placing the viewer within the scene.

Morris Arboretum

This is an example of framing leading your eye to the main subject off in the distance. But it does not need to complete the frame and go completely around the edges of the image. Here it goes about two and a half sides of the image to focus on the swans. I could have cropped to make the swans more the focus, but when you read further, you will see why I did not.

Carolyn’s Shade Garden

Trees make wonderful frames. I especially am drawn to views from beneath trees. Here the frame is in shadow and darkened. Again, I could have brightened the tree leaves a bit, but a method I used to post the images does not allow for selective editing. I will explain, because those wanting a fast post can do it like I did.

Morris Arboretum

Photographing through the trees makes for interesting framing also. Here the frame is soft focused with a slight blur. Depth of field is often used in this technique.


The frame in this image is literal and deliberate, just like in the image above through a window. But here it is a design technique and element. What you see through the void is very much taken into consideration. I too consider windows in landscape design and also will use shrubs and trees to form frames. With some shrubs, you can carve (prune) out an opening to view beyond.


Here is another view that looks very deliberate, a great place to sit and relax to the view beyond.

Morris Arboretum

Another way a tree can frame up a shot. Trees can be very sculptural and using the crotch of the tree as a frame can make an interesting photo or garden view. Here we look a little like the paparazzi in hiding though.

The Biltmore Estate Rose Garden

More intentional views enhanced by the framing with built structures. All the filigree adds to the image. Maybe these couple of photos could use some cropping to just allow for what is important.

The Biltmore Estate

Niagara Falls Parks, Canada

This example is self-explanatory, both in design and in image. It is a peek at what is beyond, encouraging the viewer to look for more.

And of course, we can’t forget filling the frame. It is a bit different from what I have been talking about and has more to do with photography, but it is really important too. I learned about this from Saxon Holt and am more conscious of it now when I shoot large gardens.

This image uses the blur to frame the subject, but see how the whole image is all about the Veronica?  It is from my garden and the photo makes you think it goes on and on like the Rudbeckia above. It was all about how I choose to frame my image. I could talk on and on about framing.

None of my images above are particularly good examples of framing an image because all of them I kinda did without forethought. Like I said shooting under the trees, I am just drawn to framing an image. It is a great photography composition technique, and here are some I intentionally framed, rather than shooting on the fly.

What becomes most important, is that the subject you are framing up is of visual interest.

This requires patience and looking for the best angle of view. It may take a couple tries to find a great angle, but it is worth the extra time. Above, the visual interest lies right outside the door.

This image, the cannon frames the cannonballs.

And here is another reason for this post like I promised, and maybe a good tip for those that use Photoshop.

These images, all except the winter scenes from a previous post, were all prepared AUTOMATED in Photoshop. First an action was run on a landscape view to lightly sharpen, increase vibrancy a smudge, then reduce the size to 10 inches wide at  72 ppi. I also use the Save for Web command. It makes for a smaller file.

After the action was completed, a droplet was made as an application to automate performing the action on a FOLDER of images. This takes only a few seconds to complete on about ten or so images. Talk about a quick tip.

The droplet is an application that I picked to live on my desktop and do a job when I want a post really fast.


I have a series coming up on Chanticleer that will be WP scheduled postings. They will appear daily and they were done with this method. In these posts, you will pictorially take the tour with me and see Chanticleer through my lens in the order that I traveled. The series is twelve posts with ten images in each – 122 images. One has twelve. It is kinda like you were there following me around.

I often get comments saying how much work is involved in posting, and this is a little trick that completes the task very fast. It is not the best for the images photographically, since all may not need a portion of the action, especially if you really up the filter or adjustment (hint, keep the editing very light),  but if you want to post pronto, you cannot beat it.

I have so many tricks to automate the process and many contain actions. Anyone who might want to learn actions and droplets, I may do a tutorial. You will find it so handy and wish you knew the process a long time ago. Really, it is not difficult.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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19 Responses to Framing a Scene

  1. Thanks for the great examples of framing! I’m trying to do this more lately, and your post is helpful and inspirational.

  2. This is great and the nature always gives inspiration that life is beautiful.Inkjet Paper

  3. Alistair says:

    Hi Donna, thoroughly enjoyable post giving others like myself an insight on how to frame a scene.

  4. Love the cannon balls framed by the wheel of the cannon. Good technique to keep in mind as we take the photos AND as we crop or reframe them. Think the crotch of the tree with the chairs in the distance is another good one.
    Looking forward to seeing Chanticleer.

  5. b-a-g says:

    I like the powder room and paparazzi shots best. Your post made me realise that there are no frames in my garden.

  6. Astrid says:

    What fabulous suggestions, Donna! I am attempting to improve my blog photos (and photos in general). Your ideas are a great inspiration and will help me plan my shots more carefully. Thx again for some terrific ideas.

  7. Very well done. And you did a great job of explaining something that otherwise comes naturally to you when taking a photograph.

  8. This post was like old home week. I thought I recognized the swans and then there was my garden from a different angle. I will have to pay attention to framing from now on.

  9. HolleyGarden says:

    I liked how you explained framing the view, and filling the photo, too. Both are great techniques that I should do more. I always learn so much from you, I appreciate all the tips you give us.

  10. Indie says:

    Wow, the framed picture of the sky and building and the framed picture of the manor in winter are absolutely stunning. I’ve actually thought more of framing a picture ever since that tutorial on ‘filling the frame’, and I think it has really helped me take pictures better. My husband says we have Photoshop – I really need to find time to play with it at some point!

  11. Graziella says:

    Wonderful, thanks for the advice, you should really make a series of these 🙂

  12. Andrea says:

    I am trying to look for frames too, however I am not very keen in finding beautiful or slightly hidden ones, just like yours. I’ve read also Saxon Holts’ fill the frame and i am learning. You are giving us lots of things to practice every time. I hope to learn fast, haha! But i confess, i am not a fast learner in PS, so i just shoot and post, or sometimes crop and post!

  13. Gosh you have so much you can teach us all. I for one appreciate it you take the time out to do such great posts and show us your tricks.

  14. Haven’t heard of droplets before so I’ll have to wait for your tutorial before I understand your meaning.
    In gardens, I like ‘filling’ as well as in photographs. I think I’m innately unsubtle. I love the vibrancy of rudbeckia.

  15. GirlSprout says:

    I like the shot looking out from your powder room. Sometimes a frame shot can look contrived. I like how natural yours appear and the drama in the last three shots.

  16. Donna I love looking for these framed images in my garden…thx for the tips and tricks to make it even better

  17. Brian Comeau says:

    Great stuff Donna. You’ve given me a few good reminders. I need to slow down sometimes and look at the larger picture before I take the photograph….

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