Digital photo frames can dress up your pictures

Sunday, August 25, 2002

In our homes, a frame dresses up and puts a finishing touch on a photograph, painting, drawing, poster or tapestry. What's more, a frame can complement the image that is within its borders -- if the color and texture of the frame are complementary. If a frame or matte is too gaudy or too brightly colored, it can ruin the presentation of the picture.

These are some of the reasons why framing shops charge big bucks to properly mount, frame, matte and mount images.

For those working in the digital darkroom, putting a frame around a picture is easy -- and everyone seems to be using digital photo frames, in both advertising and editorial applications. Even National Geographic magazine ran a story by Annie Griffith Belt and Jill Enfield -- on naturalist William Bartram and his work in Florida and the Carolinas -- in which all the pictures, taken by Belt on infrared film and hand-colored by Enfield, were enhanced with digital photo frames.

As digital computer and photography guru Joe Farace ( points out, "Photographs with irregular edges and frames add variety to your portfolio images by providing visual relief from straightedged vertical and horizontal rectangular shapes. What's more, images with white or light colored corners tend to have their edges disappear from the final print. A creative frame adds a decorative border to the photograph while giving the finished image a clearly defined edge."

One of the easiest and most fun-to-use digital photo-framing programs is PHOTOFRAME 2.0 by Extensis ( It's a Photoshop Plug-in, which means you can use it with any Photoshop Plug-in compatible program. Once you open the program, you have a limitless choice of frames -- because of the number of framing options (in the program and by going online to the Extensis Web site) and because you can tweak the color, shape, style, angle and size of each frame. Cost of Extenis PHOTOFRAME 2.0 is $199.

AutoFX Corporation ( also offers a digital photo-framing program, PhotoGraphic Edges 5.0. The program can be used as a PhotoShop Plug-in or as a stand-alone program. As with Extensis PHOTOFRAME 2.0, you have virtually limitless digital-framing options. Cost of AutoFX PhotoGraphic Edges 5.0 is $129.

Alien Skin Software ( offers a photo-frame program called "Splat!" The program features about 100 frames and is very easy to use. Cost is $79.

You can view examples of the digital photo frames offered by Extensis, Alien Skin Software and AutoFX on their Web sites.

As with traditional picture frames, a digital photo frame needs to match the photograph. For example, you would not want to put a high-tech frame around a wildlife picture; but such a frame would be appropriate for a fashion or glamour photograph. In addition, digital photo frames can be overused -- making all your pictures look too much alike.

Rick Sammon is the author of 21 photography, nature and conservation books.

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