Lens Artists Challenge #66 – Filling the frame

“To photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude.”

Susan Sontag


flower, bee, red, yellow


This week it’s Patti’s turn create our challenge and she’s given us an opportunity to zero in on our subjects to maximize their impact. As Susan Sontag says in my opening quote, “to frame is to exclude”. What can we leave out of our image to draw the viewer in? My image above, hopefully, focuses one’s eye on the brilliant colors of the flower and of course, on the little bee collecting its nectar. A keystone species critical to agriculture, bees are declining in frightening numbers – yet another example of the earth’s changing environment.

partial daisy on green background


“A still photograph is simply an isolated frame taken out of the infinite cinema.”

Hollis Frampton

Sometimes it’s interesting to creatively approach an image by leaving part of the subject to the imagination of the viewer. Seeing the capture above might cause one to pause a moment to wonder why I’d chosen to include only a part of the whole. Perhaps a viewer would be drawn to what might otherwise be a rather ordinary photo of a fairly common flower. What do you think?



“Constantly ask yourself ‘what the heck would what I’m looking at look like framed’.”

Mason Resnick

I shot the two dandelion pappi above (yes, I had to look up the name for them) because of my long-ago memory of blowing on them to make a wish. Do parents everywhere teach that to their children or is it a uniquely American thing? In any case I cannot say if any specific wishes came true because I cannot remember what I wished for. But the ephemeral starry flowers still make me smile at the memory.

mountains, clouds below


“Every time the shutter captures a frame, that image is recorded at a low threshold in the brain of the photographer.”

Dirk Halstead

Of course, as Patti’s post illustrates, the technique of filling the frame applies to a great deal more than flowers. In the image above, for example, I wanted to emphasize the incredible blanket of clouds over which we had just driven as we climbed the mountains of Glacier National Park.  The scene was much larger, and the grand vista (which of course I also shot🙂) was extremely impressive. But this image, zeroing in on the clouds, was one of my favorites from the day.

alligator resting on an elevated board


“You fill up a frame with feelings, energy, discovery and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there.”

Joes Meyerowitz

I loved the smiling laziness of the alligator in my capture above. We think of them as dangerous creatures ever on the hunt for their next meal. In fact they are fairly docile and typically eat only once a week. They can actually go as long as up to two years between feedings. Over my 20 years in the low country they’ve taken me by surprise once or twice but thankfully they’ve chosen to jump away rather than rush toward me. Despite their usual laissez-faire attitude, we are all very cautious around alligators as they have been known to attack small dogs and in rare cases yes, even humans. 

anhinga drying wings


“Our eyes are shooting millions of frames a day.”


It is rare that we have an opportunity to get as close to the beautiful birds of our island as I did to this anhinga. I suspect the only reason he didn’t fly away was because he was working to dry his wings and wasn’t quite ready to fly. In any case, I was happy to be able to capture him closely enough to fill the frame with his beautifully patterned wings.

butterfly on pink thistle


“Exposure occupies my mind while intuition frames the image.”

Minor White

I’ll close with an image of a lovely, pollen-covered butterfly at rest on a bright pink flowering thistle. Interestingly, as a  result of our recent hurricane, we’ve seen butterflies and dragonflies in much larger numbers than we’d normally expect. Today we noticed that our sweetgrass is beginning to change to its lovely purple color so it seems fall is well and truly under way. 

Sincere thanks to those who responded to my Special Places challenge. Reading through the posts was like taking a tour of some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Patti’s challenge this week invites us to take a much closer look. As always, she, Ann-Christine, Amy and I look forward to seeing your perspectives. Remember to use the Lens-Artists tag and to link your response to her original post here.




121 thoughts on “Lens Artists Challenge #66 – Filling the frame

  1. I love the flowers Tina, they really capture your attention they’re so sharp and the contrast in the last one is brilliant. You’re right about the daisy, looking at it in a different way makes you see it afresh. Our parents taught us to make a wish when blowing a dandelion fairy too. Some things are universal, it seems.

  2. Such a fabulous collection of frame fillers. A smiling alligator no less!! Yes, I used to blow on those fluffy dandelions as a kid – tried to get to them before the wind beat me to it. The Sontag quote is intriguing and inspiring. I hadn’t thought of it that way before – especially with a macro shot – which may leave more to the imagination (like your flower shot). Thanks for all your ideas!

  3. Tina – so much to savor here – the full photos – the thoughts and flow
    — and you are so right – we do think of alligators hunting and on the prowl – so that was a
    Top photo here – brought a smile big time

    • Thanks Perpetua. Aren’t those clouds something?! We got above them by driving through them as we made our way up the mountain in Glacier Park. Breaking through them into the sun was incredible.


  4. My comeback to blogging hasn’t been great by I will try not to make too ephemeral… Your ephemeral and above the clouds captures formed quite a contrast to me. What am I saying – those 2 photographs are exactly the same. Clouds/mist, certainly ephemeral.

    The captures are like their owner owner: lovely. Oops there is an alligator!! 🙂

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  6. I love the quote about leaving space for someone else to come in, Tina! 🙂 🙂 Your photos are always beautifully detailed and I love the blurry softness around the crispness of a close up. Smiling at you this morning!

  7. I love that photo of a darter drying its wings. As for the flower macros; I always like falling into a flower, with the details that you might miss if you hadn’t examined it with a camera.

  8. Framing in post is probably more important than framing during the shot for folks like me who don’t care about maximum resolution since my medium is almost always a relatively low-res Internet image.

    Having noted that, if the subject is static and there’s plenty of time to frame in-camera, that’s certainly preferable and a lesson that took me some time to learn. It helped when I got my “all-around” 16-300mm lens that could just as well be permanently mounted on my camera. >grin<

  9. Beautiful examples of filling the frame Tina, I especially love how you captured the anhinga spreading her wings 🙂💖 xxx

  10. Hi, Tina. Fabulous shots! Your shot of the clouds high in the mountains lingers with me. And that gator can stay exactly at that distance. No close encounters for me, thank you!! Stay safe on the golf course. I know they like to sun themselves on nice days. Have a great weekend–on or off the course.

  11. All beautifully framed. In England we blow on the dandelion ‘clocks’ to tell the time! As for the anhinga, I swear he has caught sight of you in the corner of his eye as he looks awfully nervous, probably thinking “I wish my wings would hurry up and dry…”

  12. I’ve blown on more than one dandelion, though I don’t think it worked. Although I may not have done it right, I just read that you have to blow on them as many times as the time you do. If it’s 3:00, three puffs.

    Wonderful examples of filling the frame.

  13. ten thousand I saw at a glance – yet framed to highlight the micro -incredibly amazing beauty of nature’s design captured so professionally..Tina Ji you are blessed

  14. those dandelions….definitely bring back some good memories! I wonder where that tradition came from? I’ll have to google it! Your birds are always the coolest!

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  16. Beautiful images, Tina. The shot of the mountains of Glacier National Park is magnificent. You were very close the Gator, cool capture! I had no idea that they can go as long as up to two years between feedings.

  17. Gorgeous shots, Tina. I love the idea of our eyes constantly shooting frames. The alligator shot is my favourite. He really does look so relaxed, half hanging off that plank and with such a big grin on his face. 😃

  18. Blowing on dandelions and making a wish–oh, yes, always! And my father in the background yelling that I was spreading weeds all over his lawn. Ha! What a memory, Tina.

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