Framing pictures

Framing pictures

Framing pictures and composition is not exactly the same thing, but can be used in the same context. If I want to be precise composition is a more broad term, because in this case we change our position as well relative to the scene. Framing is more proper for a bird to photograph and to decide where to put the bird in the frame. We cannot move, because in this case there is not shot to frame.

It is important how we frame the pictures we make. First of all photography is an art, and you can do everything you want and feel free to do so. What is interesting for me is to think about how to do it. We can place the main subject in the middle of the picture, or in the side, up, down, everywhere in the frame. We also has an option to choose the perspective how we make the picture, from below, above, straight. To always put the main subject in the middle of the frame is simply boring.

The two basic frame setting

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First we have two basic setting the one called landscape and the one called portrait setting. The normal wide setting of the picture, and if we turn our camera 90 degrees, we have a portrait setting. In many cases it is very useful if we want to show more in that direction. This is especially true if our lens is not wide enough, for example the popular 50mm lenses for landscapes, we can gain some extra space on the frame. If we make for example a landscape of a spring following the line of the water, the portrait setting is better. We can also create any kind of picture shapes when we crop the pictures as we like it.

Rule of thirds

One of the useful concept about framing is the rule of thirds. What does it mean? We put the main subject in the third part of the image. Let’ see landscapes for example. Usually the horizont is a definite line on the picture.
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What if we put the horizont in the middle?
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It looks quite boring if you concentrate on the picture as a whole, not on the lights or other things.

Let’s have an other example.
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You can imagine if I would put the bird in the middle of the frame horizontally, wouldn’t be so interesting. If we follow theory perhaps it must put the bird’s eye in the thirds crossing. But then the bird would be at the side of the picture. For wildlife photography I use my prime lens, for landscapes I use my zoom lenses and prime lenses as well. So much easier to make the picture with the 16-85mm zoom, than the prime lens.

Above picture shows that rules doesn’t make a picture, you can do whatever you want.


If we check many photographs, we can gain some ideas how to compose or frame the picture. One of the ideas is to compose the picture to different shapes. What does it mean ? You look at a photo and try to simplify the photo how it looks. The photo can have a triangle shape, a rectangle shape, an “L” shape, a “U” shape, or a circle shape.

For example the above photo has an “L”-ish shape. For the next picture you going to take can think that way, what kind of shape you can compose your picture.

Framing with different lenses

There are two basic kind of lenses available: fixed or prime lenses and zoom lenses. For framing zoom lenses are much better, we don’t need to walk back and forth to find the good distance, simply zooming with the lens.
On the other hand prime lenses teaches us to think about the picture, how we can make a certain picture, where we need to be for the desired look.

Framing with ultrawide (UWA) lenses

With ultrawide lenses (focal length below 15-16mm on crop sensor, 24mm on Full frame cameras) the position of the camera is very important. Here we want to put the camera into the scene. With ultrawide angle lenses we go as close as we can, to have the best quality, where we like the perspective.

Framing with different cameras, live view mode

Some cameras has grid in the thirds others are only in quarters. If you have a thirds grid it can help in composing. In newer cameras has a Live view mode which can be very useful for example making landscapes. It is easier to compose the picture on the screen.

Autofocus points

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Nikon d7000 focus points this shows where are the focus points in the frame, you can see not really one in the third of the frame, especially vertically, most of them are in the center
Focus points in Dslr cameras defining where the camera is focusing. There are different settings are available usually, to choose just one point, all points like an auto mode, and several cameras allows you to choose a group of points selected in different methods. The most reliable usually in any camera is the center focus point. If you want to make pictures of moving subjects, perhaps only this is useful. But how to make the subject in the third area of the frame. There is two methods: to focus with the center point lock the focus and recompose the picture by turning the camera a little trying to keep the same distance, or use a focus point in the third part of the frame. Here is the problem because on most of the cameras you don’t have one focus point there in the thirds of the frame.
I found non-cross type autofocus points are pretty unreliable in action photography like sports, birds/wildlife or portraits/kids photography. Perhaps ok for landscapes, but mis-focusing can occur here as well, and some cases it is hard to detect the problem without see the pic on the computer. In most entry level Dslr cameras only the center focus point is cross-type usually as well as my mid-range old Canon 30d. I don’t like focus hunting and don’t like badly focused images caused by the non-cross type focus points. Perhaps it is a good idea to only use cross-type focus points. Usually all cross-type focus points is in the center area, which is not very useful.


For wildlife I usually use the center focus point of my camera, and usually crop the pictures afterwards, because in most cases I don’t have time to frame the pictures I want to make. On the other hand to maximize quality it is desirable to make the picture you want without cropping. If if you not succeed still can crop a little afterwards.


Think about the picture you want to make. Try to use the rule of thirds in some composition. Make some pictures, which you think about in advance. Try to make some pictures without cropping, make the picture exactly as you like it. Make pictures with many different directions, from upwards, downwards, try to check many angles to see what you get.

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