Take landscapes with impact

Foreground detail and interest will take your landscapes to new heights

Want to improve your landscapes simply and effectively? Of course you do! Returning from your weekend roaming around the Scottish Glens or High Peak, you want people to look at your images and make them feel as though theyíre standing in the middle of that wonderful scenery.

Want to improve your landscapes simply and effectively? Of course you do!

Returning from your weekend roaming around the Scottish Glens or High Peak, you want people to look at your images and make them feel as though theyíre standing in the middle of that wonderful scenery.

Adding interesting foreground will help you achieve that reaction. It intensifies context, enhances composition and really puts the viewer slap bang in the terrain. Without foreground, your photos will become flat and two-dimensional.

Adding some interest at the foot of your frame not only drags the viewer into the scenery, but it also adds that alluring third dimension ñ depth.

Beautiful backdrops

The best method of training yourself to shoot more foreground is to try and think of your landscape shots first and foremost as pictures of something in the foreground, but with the most beautiful and stunning backdrop. And finding the right foreground for your landscape doesn’t have to be a quest for the Holy Grail.

Simple common features such as rocks or mosses can be used as foreground on even the most barren landscapes, as long as you compose low and with the camera angled slightly downwards.

Of course, you donít have to shoot ultra wide-angle all the time to capture great foreground. Use the compression effect of shooting on a standard (50mm) or short telephoto lens (around 70- 20mm) and look for natural depth where hills and mounds intersect each other.

Framing your shot so there’s an area of interest at the bottom of the frame acts as an anchor. It will give the viewer something to fix on and allow their eyes to wander up, drinking in the beautiful landscape as they go.

A landscape without an interesting foreground? It’s like Abbot without Costello.

Plonking random foreground in your shots without any thought is just as bad.

Using sheep as a contrast to the landscape colours – interesting subject matter works as a foreground even when shooting at a focal length of 60mm.

Top tips for the best foregrounds Fantastic foreground ideas to help you create amazing landscapes

1. Look for lines

Foreground that exhibits lead-in lines travelling towards the centre of the frame is a sure-fire winner. Be sure to keep an eye out for any ploughed fields, paths, rocky outcrops or streams that will lead in the eye with ease.

2. Happy aperture

To bring out the detail in your foreground without risking an unsharp background, use a small aperture between f/18 and f/22 and focus a third into the frame, concentrating explicitly on the foreground.

3. Feel the texture

Strong raking morning or evening light will bring out the exciting detail in divots and mounds on even the most boring grassy field. Shoot early and late to capture this wonderfully natural texture in your photos.

4. Colour it in

Look for colour in foregrounds to help create a visual pathway into your photos. Fields of rich red poppies in an English summer landscape or strands of vivid green seaweed on a coastal sunrise will do the trick.

5. The low down

Getting down low and framing with your tripod fixed at its lowest setting will ensure you take in plenty of foreground. Use the Rule of Thirds to place the horizon in the top third of the frame and let the foreground take up the bottom third.