Frame Within a Frame in Landscape Photography

What is the most common rule of composition in photography? Most likely your answer is the rule of thirds. Undoubtedly, this is a very powerful technique for composing an attractive photograph, but is it the only way? Of course not.

You see this ruler as an overlay in most cameras and editing software, and sometimes it’s the only visual overlay or guideline you get on some devices.

If you feel like you’re stuck using the overlay grid on the back of your camera that forces you to use the rule of thirds in all your photos, and if you’re looking for an escape from this overused technique, then this article may be exactly what you are looking for.

I used the rule of thirds for many years and it was the only composing tool I knew of, but that’s no longer the case. I developed my skills as a photographer as soon as I learned all the other techniques one can use to compose an image.

Perhaps one of my favorite techniques in photography these days is “frame within a frame”. This technique is simple but effective, and you can create an attractive image when you use it. You can always combine this technique with others, such as the rule of thirds, symmetry, the golden ratio, etc.

What is the frame within the frame?

When you use an item or object in the scene as a window to look through and frame your main subject, then you have a natural frame that is inside the frame of your photo, and therefore it is called a frame in frame.

A classic example of this technique is when a photographer places their subject in a room and shoots from outside the door while the door is open – you can see the subject through the door and part of the photo is just filled in from the outside of the walls. This has also been used in many films.

How to Use Frame in Frame in Landscape Photography

The most common and easiest way to capture a natural setting in landscape photography is to find a tree or branches that can be used as the foreground and position yourself so that your main subject or scene is from the other side and can be seen. through the branches of the selected foreground tree.

In the example below, I found a natural window between some trees on one side of a lake and used it as a frame to frame the lake house during a winter sunset.

Here is another example:

But this is not the only way. You can use so many other things like taking pictures from inside a cave and looking at anything outside and using the cave entrance as a frame within the frame of the cave. ‘image.

Let’s not stop there and make it even more interesting,

The frame does not need to be completed — it can be partially open on one or two sides. If you look at the panorama below, you can still feel that the oak tree in the foreground and the dark grass below frame the main oak tree in the picture. The key is to not include most of the foreground tree and keep it at the edges of the image.

Now, the last tip opens a new door to getting creative with this technique. Let me ask you this question:

Should the frame be in front of the subject?

Imagine you have a (physical) frame on your wall and the main photo inside that frame is embossed and stands out from the surface. Doesn’t that sound interesting?

So I can tell you that you can do the same thing in your two-dimensional images. Here is an example:

If the yellow leaves in the image above covered the whole background, they would have become a backdrop for the aspen in the foreground, but the way I’ve composed this image, the center is almost empty at from the leaves of early spring, and so they appear as a prominent frame around the trunk.

Are you ready to push the limits even further?

If you look at the first sentence of the “What is Frame in Frame” section, I wrote: “When you use an element or an object…” What does that mean? What if we used reflections or colors? Reflections are a good example and the best way to convey what I mean is to show you the following examples.

In the first frame, I have a dark blue sky and its reflection that surrounds the yellow colors of the earth lit by the first light of day.

In the image below, again, the reflection of the dark sky in the calm water creates a natural setting for the focal point of the image, which is the lake and the forest.

Picture-in-picture in post-processing

In fact, every time you use vignetting in the post-processing of an image, you create an invisible frame inside the boundaries of your photo that pushes the viewer’s eyes towards the center. And that’s exactly what good framing does, forcing the viewer to focus on what’s most important in the image. And that’s to create a sense of space for the subject to live in and make a story of which is partially covered by the frame itself and because of that it triggers a sense of curiosity in the viewer . Thus, the image suddenly becomes more exciting and engaging.

This is why the “frame within a frame” technique can be a powerful tool for composing your next photograph.


About the Author: Hamed Bank is based in Sweden and is a visual effects composer by day and a landscape photographer by “anytime”. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author. You can find more of Bank’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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