Picture This Photo Contest – October 2011

– Posted in: Garden Photography

This months theme is Fill the Frame.

succulent tapestry

We will be looking for photos that use the entire canvas with well constructed compositions.  The succulent tapestry above from Jeff Moore’s garden in Solana Beach, CA was carefully composed in the camera’s viewfinder to include blocks of complementary plant material, overlapping triangles with strong lines and shapes to achieve a balance that fills the entire frame.

Let’s look at other ways to consider the topic of ‘Fill the Frame’.

I well remember the first time I saw culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) flowering in a garden.  I could not believe that I had been so unaware of the spectacular flowers, nor could I believe my good luck in finding it in such a fine garden.  I knew I had a great photo opp.

herb garden with flowering sage

Like many of us when we know a good photo is staring us in the face, I quickly took a picture before the moment passed.  All I got was a snapshot of the garden, not a picture of the flowers.  I had not stopped to analyze what I was seeing and what I wanted to say.

It is not a bad picture, and even has some of the block compositional elements of the succulent tapestry, but it isn’t what I was seeing.

Lesson #1 in all my workshops is to analyze what you are seeing and make the camera say what you want it to say.  Fill the frame with your message.  Don’t waste space in the photo with information that does not tell your story.

The first photo I took is a story about an herb garden not the sage flowers.  The solution was to get closer and fill the frame with the flowers.

But I still need to get closer so that the flowers become the whole story.  I was sure to use the yellow-chartreuse of the golden oregano as one of the bands of color behind the Salvia, and made a composition that cut off the tops of some flowers in order to hold the eye in the frame.

flowering culinary sage

This months contest is also a photography lesson.  The collective results will be the ultimate lesson, and in the judging I will be sure to comment on the ways I see good composition making the image whole.

Good composition is the art of filling your frame with elements that contribute to your story.  There are many, many ways to achieve this.  So long as you make conscious decisions on the make-up of your photo there are no rules, though the photo should be easy on the eyes and invite a long look.  The most interesting photos are always the ones that somehow hold your gaze as you wander around it, wondering about how it was put together.

Filoli autumn trees

I am particularly partial to wide views of gardens that are well enough composed to fill and burst out of their frame.  This autumn color study of Filoli makes you want to crawl into the scene and see more.  Extra points for these garden landscapes that fill the frame.

But I also love carefully constructed images that balance line, shape – and negative space.  Note the equal weight, here in this Tupeleo leaf, of those negative spaces, balanced by the edge of the frame itself.

Tupelo, nyssa sylvatica leaf fall color

And sometimes negative space can dominate the frame, filling it by dominating it.  I think this portrait of the summer’s last tomato certainly uses the whole frame, though the red orb itself certainly doesn’t fill the frame.

Last ripe tomato

So think about ways you use your camera to frame what you see.  Fill the frame consciously and send in your photo.



1.  You must have an active blog in order to participate. To be eligible for judging, you need to leave us TWO LINKS – a direct link to the image, and a link to your blog post that includes the image (and that says you are entering the KapliPRO Picture This Photo Contest )– in a comment on this post. Your links need to be correct in order for your photo to be entered into the contest. If need be, check out previous Picture This contests to see how others have done it.

2. You are allowed one entry per contest; your photo must be able to be copied from your site. That makes it possible for us to collect all the entries in one place for easier judging.

3. The long side of the image needs to minimally be 800 pixels

4. Because of the enormous amount of responses we receive, you can’t change your mind once you enter a photo into the contest.

5. The deadline for entries is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Tuesday, October 25,  2011. There are no exceptions.


All entries will be posted in The Gallery within 48 hours after received (as of 10/15/11).

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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