Framing with depth

Framing with depth

When I was a kid, my father taught me that a good photograph needs a foreground, middleground and background. It is one of the very basic composition rules. And still valid today. But what if you're not shooting landscapes? And what if there is no foreground on your set?


Simply create your own foreground. Over the years, I have experimented with various transparent objects which I held in front of my lens. It works best with wide open apertures (e.g. f/2). You can catch the light with the object you're holding in your hands and throw it back into your lens kind of as a further source of light. With the transparency you can create interesting effects.

Reflections add a certain depth to an image.
Created with a training glass in front of my lens

One of my most used toys is a training glass which I bought at an optician. You could break out the glass of some spectacles as well. It's the same sort of thing. This slightly curved glass works nicely to create some reflections in your image. Sometimes I even use it to duplicate a scene inside my image. It makes it all blurry but adds a certain ingredient that makes the photograph more interesting in my believe. Funnily, as a beginner photographer I was trying to get my photographs as sharp as possible. And after a couple of years, I figured that a photo that isn't brutally sharp can look much nicer.

In my last photo book there is one photo where I worked with such an extreme reflection. It looks as if it was photoshopped but there is zero retouching involved. This makes me happy. When you take a picture and it already looks great as it is.

Here's another example of a sunset I photographed in Fuerteventura. By holding the glass in front of my lens, I was able to add a light leak with a smooth bokeh in the foreground on the side of the photo. This frames the shot nicely and underlines the mood that I wanted to convey.

Probably you should not use reflections in every photo that you take. But for a change, it can add something for sure.

Mia in the sunset
My glass object collection

Whenever I go shopping and pass by stores like Zara Home, I can't resist and look for new types of glasses. It can be drinking glasses or those crystal napkin rings. Whatever you're up to. Currently I am into thick glass which works great when there's a lot of sunshine. Sometimes I also use a prism to include a rainbowish reflection or to mirror some of the surroundings into the image.

And recently I bought a plastic kaleidoscope in a toy store. I ripped it apart to isolate the plastic piece and played around with it. Isn't it amazing how it drags the viewer into the scene?

A tiny kaleidoscope created this effect