Foregrounds – More Bang for Your Buck!
One of the most effective techniques for adding that “WOW!” factor to your landscape photographs is to include an interesting foreground which complements your composition and helps the viewer to see what your subject is. If you plan and design your photograph carefully, the foreground can lead the viewer’s eye from the foreground, through the image, ending at the subject.
If you look around at the images that you admire by world-renowned photographers you will see this technique employed time and time again. Barely an issue of “Outdoor Photographer” or “Outdoor Photography” magazines will be published without images that use the foreground as an important part of the composition. To see the technique from its early days it would be worthwhile studying the work of David Muench. Whilst we know that all things are subjective- and right and wrong is a tricky thing to define in the art of photography- there are some things that we can all try to bear in mind before we press the shutter that may help us show the viewer why a scene captured our attention in the first instance and to show the subject to its best advantage.
Of course, these pointers should never be used as rules – even the most ardent proponents of compositional techniques such as the widely accepted (….and somewhat misnamed) rule of thirds would agree that this is a guideline rather than a rule and in photography, as in life, the oft quoted ‘rules are there to be broken (or at least bent)’ applies.
However, even within the loose parameters of artistic vision, there are fundamentals we can all think about at the moment of “The Click” that will help bring life into our images.
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Perhaps the most often discussed are ‘leading lines’ and whilst this can apply to composition in general it is doubly important for effective foregrounds. In its most basic form what we are thinking about here is trying to create a visual flow through your composition that will take the viewer from one area of the image to another. Ideally we strive for this journey to be a smooth and pleasant one, rather than jerky and disconnected.