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Framing an Image

Copyrights Ganesh H Shankar, June 2007.

Whether we are framing a print or preparing an image for web colors of the borders or frame can drastically influence the overall appearance of an image. I try to use border/frame for focussing the viewer on my subject within the frame. Let me illustrate this point with an example. Let us see the same image with different colored borders (shades of grey). First let us start with no border - the image above. Pond heron is the main subject here with habitat around it adding to the image. Personally I think the appearance of this image can be improved by having a frame. Now let us see how different shades of grey add to or substract from the subject !

Let us start with the black border - the often used preference - the image of the left. What do you think ? To me it slightly substracts from the image because the black border dilutes my subject since my subject also has a dark shaded wings. It also enhances the negative impact of darker regions within the bottom of the frame.

Now let us look at white border - the image on the right. Does this work ? Not at all to my taste. White seem to over power the entire frame leave alone the subject.

Now let us try different shades of grey. Look at the image on the left. What you think ? For my taste buds this one neither adds nor subtracts from the image - appears very neutral.

Let us look at dark grey border - look at the image on right. How does this border interact with the subject ? To me this slightly adds to the image. Definitely better than no-border (compare this to one on top without border). Border here is ligher than dark shades of the bird thus emphasizing the bird a bit and also it seem to constructively frame the entire image. Can we do better than this ? I think so ! Which way will you go next ? Lighter or darker shades ? I think darker shades will start approaching dark regions of bird thus substracting from the subject. Let us try a slightly lighter shade - the next image on left.

What you think ? To me it adds to the image but not very optimal. I think optimal shade lies some where between the shade above and this one - may be very slightly darker than this one.

What you think ? To me it adds to the image but not very optimal. I think optimal shade lies some where between the shade above and this one - may be very slightly darker than this one.

For now let me settle-down on the one on right. If you observe closely this grey shade is close to the grey above but what made the grey frame above not very interesting is 2 pixel dark inner shade which neutralized the dark shades on the bird. I have not discussed using non-grey shades. Most of the time I find them give some artificial appearance to the image and is tricky to use colored frame - so I rarely use colored frames.

In a slightly related note I prefer not to have prominent signature, copyright symbol or information at the bottom of the frame. I think the image is most important than my copyright symbol! Though information like subject's name for example is useful for artistic reasons I don't prefer having them in frame.

Let me end this with a note that framing can enhance the appearance of an image. The default black color frame is not always optimal.

You may click on each of these images to see them in larger size which may help in appreciating decisions made here better. You may need hardware calibrated monitor to appreciate subtle differences in different shades used here.

- Ganesh H Shankar

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