How to Use Foreground to Create Depth | Landscape Photography Composition
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How to Use Foreground to Create Depth | Landscape Photography Composition

October 8, 2019


(gentle music) – Hi guys, it’s Ross Hoddinott for NatureTTL.com. Today we’re going to be discussing using foreground interest to create
depth in your compositions. (gentle music) (camera shutters) (beach waves roll) What I’m looking for is
some nice tidal pools or rocks that I can place in my foreground to help create a really nice three-dimensional feel to my images. The beach is generally a
very chaotic environment so I’m trying to simplify the composition as much as possible and hopefully, as we wander around, we’ll find something really appropriate. And actually, I think this would work really well here, in front of me now. We’ve got some really nice rocks dotted amongst some really nice tidal pools, which look really quite attractive. The light’s a bit flat at the minute but I think if we get
the right conditions, this could work really nicely. The nice thing about this scene is the rocks in the foreground act as stepping stones into the image and that gives the shot really nice depth. The viewers eye should
hopefully start at the beginning and then just follow stones into the shot, into the middle distance and then towards the horizon. And as a landscape photographer, you’re tryna construct a
shot which implies depth and leads the viewers eye basically on a path around the shot. And this is what these particular rocks in the foreground do really well. You might think I should be
closer to the foreground rocks, go in very wide angle and make them very large in the foreground but actually that can
make them too dominant and instead of your eye
wandering through this shot and being led through
towards the distance, the foreground object becomes too dominant and it becomes much more
about the foreground object than it does about the entire scene. So from here, I think I can capture an
image with a lot more context and it’s about the entire scene rather than just the
objects in the foreground. You’ve probably hear
of a compositional rule called the rule of odds, which dictates the odd number. An odd number of objects
work very well in photographs and here we’ve got three rocks just in this tidal pool and they work really nicely as a trio. What I’m tryna do is compose this scene to use them as my foreground. And the rule of odds dictates there always has to be a centred object, and our eyes generally tend to get drawn to that centred object, which makes the approach more successful than if there was an even number of say two or four or six. A good foreground can make for
strong landscape composition and in this instance, these rocks in the foreground give us these stepping
stones into the shot which works really well. We have this little peninsula of sand which comes in from the
bottom right hand corner, which just subtly points the
eye into the scene as well. Often, good foreground is quite subtle. It doesn’t have to be really dominant, it doesn’t have to be really in your face. You’re looking for subtleties that just encourage the eye into the shot. That’s the thing you’re tryna do, you’re tryna encourage the viewers eye to explore the frame. And this kind of scene just works so well. This kind of foreground is just perfect. (wind blowing) The light has finally come out and I’m just going to
take a couple of shots now just as the light just starts to pick up some of the cliffs in the distance here and hopefully in a minute we’ll have some light in
the foreground as well. (camera shutters) (soft music) I really like that photograph with the reflections in the foreground. But there’s lots of different
ways that we can create depth in our landscape photographs. One of the best methods is to utilise lead-in-line. There’s lots of different
things within the landscape both natural and man made that you can use to direct the viewers eye through the shot from the foreground right
through to the distance. Such things as pairs, jetties, roads, paths, and even this river
could work really nicely. Just to drag the eye through the shot and create a really nice feeling of depth. In this instance, I’m not going to use the river, I’m going to wander further into the beach and hopefully find some nice rocky ledges and perhaps the incoming tide as well to create depth and interest in my shot. (water running) Leading lines don’t get
much better than this, these fins of rock in front of me just lead the eye into
the image really nicely and I’ve composed this image so that I’ve got the rock
coming in from one corner, so I’ve got a really strong
diagonal through this shot. And this viewpoint’s so much better than if I went over to
the left or right of me when there’s either too much rock or it’s just lots of sand which doesn’t create
any depth of interest. The only thing I think would
make this shot better now is a bit of water motion. I’m hoping that the tides going to come in in the next 10 or 15 minutes and wash between these bits of rock and really add some nice interest and also separation between
the rock in my foreground. I’m just going to wait now and fingers crossed I get
some good shots in a minute. (water rushing) When you include foreground in your shots, you typically want to have an extensive depth of field to ensure that everything
from your foreground object to the distance is acceptably sharp. In order to do that, it’s very important that
you think very carefully about where you focus within the scene. Depth of field falls approximately one third in front of the point of focus and two thirds beyond it. So a good rough and ready way of achieving a very large depth of field is to focus a third way into the frame. Another good method is
double distance focusing, where you look at your scene, you look at your closest point and then you double that distance and focus on that area. And that’s exactly what
I’m going to do here, I’m going to look at this foreground rock and I’m going to double the distance and then use in live view, I’m going to focus on that point and that should ensure that I have really good
extensive depth of field and my image is sharp throughout. The final way to get really good depth of field in your shot is to use a hyper focal distance. For more information on this, click on this link. So the tides really coming in now and the water’s just
put a lovely separation between these rocks. And effectively the water motion is acting like another leading line, it’s dragging the eye into the shot. I’m using ND filter here, a six stop ND filter, just to add a little bit of motion to the water as it comes in. And effectively what I’m doing is generating my over foreground interest by my choice of exposure. It’s very important to
understand that exposure length can really affect the way you
capture foreground motion. I’m going to shoot from here
for as long as I can safely. All this white foam is just going to blur and hopefully look really nice. The sky’s looking really
quite moody as well now, it’s quite stormy, and hopefully these
results are going to look so much better than the
shots I took earlier without the water motion in this image. (gentle music) Well that’s nice. That is nice! (gentle music) (camera shutters) (waves rolling) (gentle music) As you can probably see, the tide is coming in really quickly now so I’ve had to retreat but I hope you’ve enjoyed this video and don’t forget to
subscribe to Nature TTL for more exciting, weekly tutorials. (gentle music)

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  1. I always gain from hearing other people explain what they are looking for as foreground interest and leading lines. Beautiful images.

  2. I really enjoyed this vid. Very professional. First time I've watched your channel. I've subscribed now .look forward to your tutorials.

  3. Although this video has been on for a while, I just ran across it. I loved the explanations for the setup and then the talk through of the inclusion of the water. Great instructive video with lovely shots.

  4. Very helpful video thank you. Kit question. I wondered what the bag was that Ross was using it didn't look like a Camera bag more like a Rucksack. Thanks

  5. Great video. I’m always looking for new coastal locations to shoot so it would have been useful to know precisely where you were shooting. It looks as though it has plenty to offer.

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