Invited Journeys

06/03/2013 - 19:54


Natural frames, within the frame of a photograph, have the power to invite the viewer to pause and explore its depths. They channel the viewer’s attention, by invitation of a journey, for example:


  • a pathway through trees in a woodland - such as this through Ermington Woods in South Devon;





  • a gap in a rocky outcrop - such as this one at Saddle Tor in Dartmoor National Park;




 Other ideas might include:


  • the entrance to a harbour - with the harbour walls as borders and a fishing boat returning with its catch, bring energy and narrative into the photo;


  • looking out from the mouth of a sea cave at rolling sets of glassy waves on an incoming tide


  •  the winding path of a wilderness river in a deep  narrow valley;


  • looking out through an archway of a rural building (e.g. looking over fields and hills from a church’s porch)



The vertical ‘portrait format’ often seems to accentuate the suggestion of depth in outdoor photography. In situations where there is ‘natural framing’ around the starting close to the foreground, the vertical format works generally very well. This is especially true if the framing has considerable vertical height (e.g. looking at more distant views between two outcrops of rocks; looking at the journey of a path through a woodland of tall slender trees) – as it gives the opportunity to create the appearance of at least the sides of a door frame, this itself suggests a methaphorical doorway or gateway.




With a background of open moorland, mountains or hills it invites to stop and consider points of interest on the way through the image – such as tors,  summits and ridges (and with transient light upon the open countryside, the puddles of  light and shadows can accentuate those various anchor points along the journey into the depths of the image).





With forest or woodland scenes, the vertical format very much accentuates the depth and it can often create a sense of wonder of how far the path goes on, sometimes creating a storybook style narrative in the viewer’s mind of a ‘deep dark wood’ such as from the Grim fairytales.





With tight tunnels of trees, such as those found in the old green lanes (a.k.a. Hollow Lanes or Drover’s Roads) of England, side-lighting can add an extra point of interest as it forms circles of light between significant gaps in the space between trees along its pathway – which adds to the enchantment of the narrative element of the photo through an anthropomorphic avenue of old trees.





There are many opportunities for making ‘frame within a frame’ photographs in the great outdoors and in the urban environment, its all about looking deeply at what is going on around us, scouting an area and where we place the tripod to make a photo that invites the viewer headlong into the depths of a scene.







* Image-processing Tip  - wide angle lenses used in a  vertical format can have a tendency to cause distortion of vertical lines/ shapes in the edges of the image – with subjects such as upright parallel pine trees appearing to lean towards one another.


This can be counteracted by either:


  • using Select> All>Transform > Perspective controls in Photoshop (all versions)




  • by ‘selecting’ the image and using Filter> Distort> Lens Correction (and selecting the various options) in the CS versions of Photoshop.


The Photoshop suggestions are a much cheaper than investing in a Tilt-Shift lens (which are used often by architectural photographers to get round the problems of perspective distortions)





06/03/2013 - 22:27
Absolutely love the way the sun filters through the tall-tree is beautifully captured and will be well-worth purchasing!
Phil Hemsley
07/03/2013 - 13:15
Thank you very much for your generous comments Sophie-Margaret :) Time spent amongst remarkable trees in such light is something I find energising, yet restful. The trees there seem particularly majestic and have a presence about them.

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