#Photo3 – Alternative Framing Formats

A weekly trio of top photo tips

The rectangular framing format is a common one. It’s how we basically see the world and therefore how cameras are designed by default. Longer on the top and bottom and shorter on the sides, this can be reversed by turning the camera into the vertical format. This then is your first alternative and now you can emphasise foreground within this frame. Here are three more to consider that may prove more creative.


Make the top and bottom edges of the frame the same size as the sides and of course you now have a square format. A more even frame with no bias either way. You can use this balanced alternative to frame up views with similar aspects. Some subjects just sit perfectly within a square frame and just require a neutral frame to show them off, which is exactly what the square format is. The square format is also more forgiving for subjects placed dead-centre, so use this rule breaker to make a creative statement.

Brierley Tree, South Yorkshire



Panoramics allow you to include more of the scene within the one image. A grand, wide view is calling out to captured in a single frame, so the panoramic is often the perfect choice. However, just because you can include everything a standard rectangle can’t, doesn’t mean you should! All the usual composition rules still apply to panoramics and too much view will leave your result looking a bit boring. Be selective with your framing, don’t make the panoramic too wide (3:1 ratio is ideal) and make sure the view warrants the extra inclusion. Only then can you stitch your multiple images together and create a picture with impact like no other format.

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland



5:4 or 4:3

The 5:4 format (or sometimes described as 4:5, it’s all the same), is the classic framing format that derives from the ultimate landscape camera, the large format film camera. It’s a variation on the standard rectangle and doesn’t stretch the view as much as the 3:2 format most digital SLR’s conform to. The Micro Four Thirds 4:3 format is very similar in aspect and therefore makes an ideal digital version of the large format film original. Of course, you can also crop your standard digital 3:2 image in post-processing and you may find this a more pleasing aspect to shoot with. Just bear this in mind when composing your in-camera image to allow for the later crop.

Heather on Baslow Edge, Peak District. Derbyshire



You can read more about filters in my eGuides available with an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk

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