The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

    | Landscape | Photography Tips | 28/03/2012 11:09am

    Commandment 4: Find foreground interest

    Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

    Image copyright Julian Calverley

    When we’re out in the countryside or at the coast we look at the view in a very different way to the way we look at a photograph. Our eyes scan around and we home in on small details or the horizon, ignoring things in our peripheral vision – often not seeing what’s immediately in front of us.

    However, when we look at a photograph of the scene, the foreground becomes much more important to us, and if it’s a wide, empty area of grass or beach it can create a barrier, stopping us from seeing the spectacular hills and so on in the distance.

    One of the cardinal sins of landscape photography is including too much dull, featureless foreground in the image.

    However, it’s possible to transform a boring and uninteresting image into one that grabs the viewer’s attention by including something in the foreground.

    Foreground interest can improve landscape images in a number of ways – it’s more than just filling an empty space. It helps to give the scene a sense of scale, and it makes the progression from the near to the middle and far elements clearer, creating a journey for the viewer’s eye.

    The average landscape is full of potential objects for inclusion in the foreground. Gates, signposts, flowers, shrubs and rocks can all be pressed into service – all you need to do is walk around until you find something suitable.

    If there’s nothing in situ, you can always try moving something such as a branch or a few autumnal leaves into the right place.

    As well as adding foreground interest, things like streams, footpaths, fences and walls that extend into the landscape can help draw the viewer into the scene. They create what’s often referred to as a leading line.

    In addition to physical leading lines, landscape images can benefit from implied leading lines – the direction of the gaze of people in the scene, for example, will guide the viewer’s eyes in a particular direction.

    People walking along a footpath will also emphasise the route into the image.

    Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

    Image copyright Paul Grogan

    Break The Rules: Use space
    Sometimes it’s the uniformity or emptiness of a scene that gives it impact, and rather than looking around for something to clutter up the image it may be better to put the space to positive use. The key is to identify what’s important about the scene and work out how to make the best use of it.

    In the example on the right, the bottom two thirds of the frame are almost empty, but this is positive rather than negative space, as it leads the eye in, and directs the viewer’s attention towards the mountain on the horizon.

    Commandment 1: Shoot during the golden hour
    Commandment 2: Use a wideangle lens
    Commandment 3: Use the Rule of Thirds
    Commandment 4: Find foreground interest
    Commandment 5: Use a steady tripod
    Commandment 6: Focus one third in
    Commandment 7: Balance the exposure
    Commandment 8: Boost greens and blues
    Commandment 9: Use a narrow aperture
    Commandment 10: Use a low ISO setting


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    Posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 11:09 am under Landscape, Photography Tips.

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