Fan Ho – 9 Composition Techniques. Part Four.

8. Light Funnels 

Urban landscapes create many Light Funnels that Fan Ho took advantage of to either add drama to an image, or backlight a subject to some degree.


The narrow confines of Hong Kong’s streets offer many opportunities to narrow the flow of natural light into a funnel.

In all of the images, Ho has spotted a restriction of the way light is flooding a scene – just like the way a snoot or honeycomb grid on a flash. Look for opaque edges that hold the light and then release it in limited area in your composition. Many of these spots are very dependent on the angle and intensity of the sun.

The greater the contrast between the light and the shadow, the more effective the Light Funnel will be in your composition. Most Light Funnels run vertically, so look for skylights, narrow laneways, and gaps in roofs that let the light stream through.

Light Funnels seem to work best with a silhouetted subject.


9. Inconspicuous and Conspicuous Framing

Natural, unforced framing can add focus to a subject without it being overt or obvious to the viewer.

Inconspicuous Framing :

The first image combines Light Funnel with Inconspicuous framing. The lateral dark edges of the image help bring the eye to the subjects, and the cloth in the Top Frame continues the natural frame.

Natural positioning of fabric in the second image frame the subject without being overt. The focus is squarely placed on the bottom left corner by the sections of fabric which are also Simple Tones.

The third image uses the roofs of the market to swing the eye to the sillhouetted subject walking up the pathway, both providing the edges of a natural frame.

Conspicuous Framing :

Sometimes framing quite overtly can have a pleasing outcome.

Ho also uses light consistently as a tool for framing subjects.


I love Fan Ho’s work. I have been to Hong Kong twice now, Ho’s images are a source of inspiration to me.

Inspiration is not enough – a creative vision cannot be realised without technique. Without skills, ideas just remain locked in the mind.

Performing an extensive dissection to try and reverse engineer how a photographer achieved a specific result is my preferred mode of learning. Firstly, I sat down and spent some time looking at Ho’s work, identifying what images featured compositional techniques I didn’t feel skilled at, and then worked the “how”.

Understanding more “how” increases your options for composing images.

I would recommend starting with each technique individually, focusing on recognising potential opportunities to use it. Being able to spot things like Light Funnels and Simple Tones in field is a skill that needs to become second nature. Your photographer’s eye should be constantly scanning for these situations and recognising their potential whilst you are walking with your camera.

Once you can recognise them, you can start using them in your compositions.

You can read Part One here.

Part Two

Part Three

All images featured in this post are the copyright works of photographer Fan Ho.

Fan Ho’s Website is Here.

Buy Fan Ho’s “Hong Kong Yesterday” Here.



  1. Fan Ho – 9 Composition Techniques. Part Two. | Melbourne Street Photography - May 17, 2014

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  4. Urbanity Image Review #4 | Melbourne Street Photography - November 8, 2014

    […] There are some leading lines in the fabric “tunnel” that draw the eye straight to the subjects shopping the stall. You can read more about Fan Ho’s use of inconspicuous and conspicuous framing here. […]


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    […] being prepared. The subject is naturally framed by the canopy and the customers, along with a light “funnel” highlighting him amongst what would have otherwise a busy […]


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