Making Better Pictures-Framing and Foreground-Composition part 2



Creating a sense of excitement about your finished art is rewarding.  It is rewarding for you and those viewing your art, because, after all,  your patrons deserve the best art that you can produce.

A major component of a great piece of art is its composition.  It is composition that draws the viewer’s eye into the piece.  It conveys to the viewer the emotions you experienced when you captured the scene. 

In this article, I would like to cover two elements, that when, incorporated into an image, create a sense of depth.  Depth, in any work of art, crafts an illusion. It creates an illusion that the two dimensional becomes three dimensional.

Any photo that centers on the main subject with the exclusion of its surroundings becomes a static shot of that subject.  It becomes a snapshot. Our aim and our goal is to create art.

For example, a lighthouse, when photographed in the center of the photo, is a snapshot. Certain elements from the surroundings should be included in the photo to give a feel for the size of the lighthouse or produce an emotion about the lighthouse.  The same concept applies to mountains, waterfalls, sunsets and sunrises.

Two techniques we will cover in this article are framing and foreground. 

Framing, when done correctly, helps define the main subject.  Framing gives the photograph perspective.  It highlights the subject giving the viewer a new or more interesting way of looking at the subject. Perhaps the subject has been photographed a thousand times, but by properly framing the shot, the viewer can see the image with a different perspective.  This  unique view produces the OHH WOW factor for your patron.


North Carolina Falls

An example of using the trees for framing


When a subject touches your soul and  screams  photograph me!”  Do it!  But after the initial rush, step back and look around. Is there something that could be added to the photo that would frame the subject in a unique fashion?  An archway, a gate or a tree branch that would add to the finished image would frame the main subject.  It may take a little exploring, but a framing opportunity exists somewhere and you just have to ferret it out.  In most instances, the photographers who have shot this scene prior to you probably didn’t bother to take the time to find this distinctive point of view.  Be prepared to spend a little time in search of the framing element that makes your shot.  When you find it, it will be worth the effort.

A second technique useful in creating successful images is including the foreground into the image. The addition of the foreground adds depth to the photo by giving a point of reference to your subject.  The foreground leads the eye into the main subject.   Often including the foreground may mean that you will have to lower your tripod closer to the ground. If not using a tripod, then you may want to kneel or lie down on the ground.  By simply lowering the camera, more of the foreground will enter into the picture.  When including more of the foreground, I would also suggest using a smaller aperture, a setting of 20 or less.  The smaller aperture increases the clarity of the image throughout the photo, adding depth of field.  Many digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have a preview button that allows the photographer an opportunity to see what the finished image will look like prior to pushing the shutter release.

It’s best to have a checklist prior to shooting, and be sure to use it. 


Roan Mountain State Park in Tenn. The summit in fog

An example of using the boulders in the foreground to add depth

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About Gregory Colvin

Gregory Colvin Photography

“Inspiration for my art is found in the natural world. Being in the midst of nature is a tranquil and revitalizing experience. Early morning and late afternoon light paints the landscape with a soft glow, fog and mist create an air of mystery. Sunbeams streaming through the tree branches craft portals of mystic radiance. Reflections on lakes and streams produce a picturesque spectacle. Using the camera as a paintbrush, I attempt to recreate these visual sensations and share them with others. My mission is to share a love of the earth and a desire to protect it.”


U.S. Federal Government-F CCPAC Art Project- Seven pieces for new building in Orlando, Florida
ArtBuzz, The 2010 Collection- 1st Place for Photography –juried art book
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2010- Artist- Chosen for the collection
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2008- Artist-Chosen for the collection.
Manatee Art Festival-Honorable Mention-Photography Division Crystal River, Florida
Upper Tampa Bay Library Westchase Florida- Four pieces purchased by the Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Library Art Committee and displayed in the newly completed library.
Tampa General Hospital- two pieces placed in the permanent collection for the new addition to the hospital.
“Make a Habitat of Art”- Habitat for Humanity Juried Silent Auction Fund Raiser – Two pieces accepted for auction
Keystone Civic Association Brochure- photography included in the permanent brochure, Keystone/Odessa
ArtBuzz, The Book- 2008 Collection- Juried art book created for collectors and art galleries internationally.
Hilton Hotels Homewood Suites- 5325 Avion Park Drive, Tampa Florida- Purchased for art collection.

Juried Art Shows and Exhibits

Naples Museum of Art 2009 “Florida Contemporary Exhibition” May-June 2009
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Treasures of Perception” Show – September 2008
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Art at the Speed of Light” Show- June 2008
Fifth Ave. Gallery-“100% Pure Florida” Melbourne Florida
Tarpon Springs 33rd Annual Art Festival- Tarpon Springs Florida-2007
Boca Raton Museum Fine Art Show- Boca Raton Florida-2007
ArtiGras-North Palm Beach-2007
St. Johns Fine Art Show-St. Johns-Jacksonville Florida-2006
Art Harvest-Dunedin, Florida-2006
New Tampa Arts “Under the Oaks”-New Tampa, Florida-2006
Downtown Art and Living Expo-Orlando Florida-2006
Manatee Fine Art Show-Crystal River Florida-2006
Kiwanis Art Show- Safety Harbor, Florida-2005

Category(s): Arts, Better photography tips, Fine Art Photography Tips

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