One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.Annie Leibovitz
Have you ever watched an artist at work and seen them hold up their hands, using fingers and thumbs to create a rough rectangle? They are considering how best to frame their subject; what to include and what to omit.
We do the same in photography when we select our viewpoint and compose our shot. But as well as framing a subject in that way, we can also build additional frames into our images.
It isn’t long since I covered this topic in a Friendly Friday challenge. But as it’s one of my favourite composition techniques I can’t resist the opportunity to focus on it again for this week’s Lens Artists challenge, set by Amy.
Why use a frame?
In that previous post I talked about the use of frames in some detail:
By a ‘frame’ I mean anything within an image that can be used to frame your main subject and draw attention to it. This could be a man-made structure such as a bridge, arch or fence; it could be a natural feature such as a tree; or could even be human (think of hands clasped around a face).
Frames have various uses when it comes to composition. The most obvious perhaps is that they serve to guide the eye to one main point in a scene or a subject that you want to emphasise. But you can also use them to hide other objects that you don’t want to be seen.
Plus, a frame gives your image depth and perspective. Photography is a two-dimensional art, but a frame can trick the eye into seeing in three dimensions.
And adding a frame can give the viewer more information about where the shot was taken by setting the main subject, perhaps a person, within a context such as a building.
The photos below are all taken on recent trips (or recent wanders around London), to avoid overlap with that earlier post. Some have been shared before but I hope bear repeating as a demonstration of the effectiveness of frames.
Using trees as frames
In Betahani village, Nepal
This shot uses the tree on the right and a ridge of land in the foreground to frame the ox cart. The lighter background adds to the effect.
At Blackwater Arboretum, New Forest, Hampshire
Trees can even be used to frame other trees!
The Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens, London
The trees creating the frame don’t always have to be in front of the subject
Using arches as frames
Cloisters of the Monasterio Del Santo Eccehomo, Colombia
Using one arch to frame many others
View from the tunnel at Studley Royal, Yorkshire
This tunnel separates the more formal gardens below from the woodland walks above and adds a sense of mystery to this shot
The cellarium, Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire
This shot illustrates the effectiveness of using a series of arches to create perspective as well as framing a more distant element of the building
Using window frames
At Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire
Looking out from inside a building, including a ruin, can often offer framed views of the outside world
Traditional window in Bhaktapur, Nepal
A window can also of course frame what is inside the building
Using buildings as frames
St Paul’s Cathedral, London
The contrast between the cathedral in bright sunshine and the buildings of the approach street in shadow emphasises this frame
Fishermen’s houses, Praia do Faro, Portugal
Here the gap between two houses frames an enticing glimpses of the waters beyond
Other ideas for frames
At the Bindabasini Temple, Pokhara, Nepal
The small temple bells frame a view of Sarangkot, the Fishtail Mountain, with the diagonal line of the bells echoing the mountain’s distinctive shape
The statue of Simon Bolivar at Puente de Boyaca, Colombia
The Colombian flag is an appropriate frame for this national hero
At the Radical Horizons (Burning Man) exhibition, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
This piece is Le Attrata, by Margaret Long and Orion Fredericks, a group of three giant metal moths; I’ve composed my shot looking upwards so that the wings of one moth frame another
Young monks in Bhaktapur, Nepal
It may not be immediately obvious that I’ve used a frame here, but I would suggest that the one boy looking towards the camera is framed by all those who are not
Shop in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
This man is framed by the objects he sells as well as by my own reflection as I took the shot!
Shop in Patan, Nepal
This man too is framed by the goods for sale, although this simple shop had no glass window and I could peer right inside