Mountain view framed by trees
Lens-Artists,  Photographic techniques,  Themed galleries

Gallery: in the frame

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
Three young men riding an ox cart

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.

Small tree in sunlight surrounded by taller darker ones

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

Elaborate memorial with a seated figure in a park

Using arches as frames
Arches surrounding a courtyard garden

Cloisters of the Monasterio Del Santo Eccehomo, Colombia

Using one arch to frame many others

Looking through a stone arch at a formal garden

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

Old stone arches framing a view of a window and cross

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
Looking through a window in a ruin towards a tree

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
Large dome framed by darker modern buildings

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

Looking between two houses towards water with boats

Other ideas for frames
Small bells hanging above a view of mountains

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

Colombian flag in the foreground and elaborate statue and memorial on a hill beyond

Looking up at a metal sculpture

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

Group of young boys in saffron robes

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

Man looking out of a window surrounded by metal bowls

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!

Man seated surrounded by objects on shelves

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


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