Natural Framing for Landscape Photography

Finding a good composition is one of the hardest aspects of photography. There are thousands of books on the subject and most of them seem to focus on compositional techniques such as The Rule of Thirds, The Golden Ratio, and use of leading lines. While all of these are important techniques to understand, I’m surprised that many guides tend to forget one very simple but powerful technique: natural framing for landscape photography.

It’s hard to say why this technique is often forgotten. Perhaps it might be because it’s so easy to implement that many forget how powerful it actually can be.

Let’s look at 3 reasons why natural framing is a perfect compositional technique for landscape photography:

Accentuate the Main Subject

The main reason to use natural framing is to accentuate the main subject of your image.

natural framing for landscape photography

Technically, the image above might not be a landscape image but it’s a great example of how natural framing can help emphasize the main subject and take attention away from boring parts of the image. As you can see, the sky is lacking contrast which makes it rather boring. Flat skies like this tend to grab much attention. However, when including the branches from two trees, the viewer’s eyes will automatically be pushed down to the bridge.

Since the branches are framing the construction of the bridge, that’s where our eyes will naturally land. Had the branches not been included, the eyes would quickly bounce back up to the negative space in the sky.

Increased Depth

Just as adding a natural framing will accentuate the main subject, it will also increase the depth. This is especially the case when either photographing with a zoom lens or using a wide angle lens without having a solid foreground.

natural framing for landscape photography

The image above is a typical example how natural framing will increase the depth of the image. Since the sky is rather boring it would have been a flat image had it not been for the framing.

By combining the leading lines and the natural framing we are able to guide the viewer’s eye towards the main subject of the image. This would have been much harder without the surrounding cave.

Stronger composition

natural framing for landscape photography

Using a natural framing for landscape photography can be a powerful way of creating a stronger composition where the viewers eye is naturally guided through the image.

Personally, I prefer to use a natural framing whenever there’s either too much open space in the sky or a lack of interesting foreground to use. The natural framing will help guide the viewer’s eyes towards the main subject.

The picture above is a typical example of when the natural framing helps enhance the composition. Had I not included the flowers it would have been too much negative space in the clouds and the memorial would have blended in with the rest of the image. However, the flowers will push the eyes down towards the memorial and work as a natural wall for our eyes when they begin to wander.

Have you ever used this technique on your images? I challenge you to within the next couple of days go out and capture at least one image where you use a natural framing. Feel free to share it with us in the comments as well!