Framing Photographs Using Arcs

dsc00126Hello everyone!

Today I want to discuss a technique I have been using more or less unwittingly of the advantages and disadvantages on my trip to Amsterdam. After I came home I realised this technique can be utilized for some nice pictures as the shots went out fairly well.

The thing I’m talking about are using arcs for framing your pictures. Framing is a big topic, but lets say it brings four fundamental tools:

  • context
  • depth
  • direction
  • intriguing

That said let’s talk about how arcs can be used to reach some of the effects in a propper way. And I am not claiming to have done it absolutely right in my photos here, I just want to give you some ideas to think about!

dsc00133Now, it’s pretty obvious how arcs can direct the view of the watcher. If you photograph into an arc, the space you can get effective information from gets narrowed down to the exit of the frame. So if there is something interresting happening inside of the arc or visibly behind the exit, your view will stick to it. Take the following photo for instance. You can’t tell me you didn’t realize the women with the bike first.

Let’s go on to the next one. Context. Not always a picture shows where the photographer took the picture from. If you use a telephoto lense, or take wide shots of fields with a realy wide lense, the photographer can be meters away or standing high above the ground and you can’t realy tell just by looking at the picture. But look at this picture and try to guess where I took the picture from:


As it’s showing the bridge from beneath and is nearly pointing straight through the canal, you will quickly get it right and say that im probably on a boat or something.

This picture also is showing how you can show depth. As you clearly see the size of the first bridge, and are able to spot several other bridges though the arc of the next one you can approximately tell the distance and get the idea that this canal must be verry long. (By the way this is supposed to be a special canal but I didn’t listen carefully, I was taking photos and videos 😀 ). Another shot that demonstrates the nice depth you get in your picture is the next one. The lights kind of pull you into the shop.


The fourth effect is a special one. You can make shots more interresting by hiding or showing something. If you just show whats necesary, the viewer starts to integrate his or her imagination. I didn’t make a shot that would demonstrate this verry well, but this shot somehow will do as I asked my self when selecting the images: Why would you photograph the arc itself?

dsc00298Well… at least you can see how big this thing is. A blurred view on a couple or a wedding in the exit of the arc would have reached the effect I am trying to show here. You would start to think about what is happening and the picture would preserve and express a lot of the privacy of a new couples quiet moment aside from the celebration…

So framing is an essential technique everyone should learn and get better on. This are just some half baked examples on how to use arcs for framing. Let me know what experience you have made with photographing into arcs in the comments!

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