Great landscape images are made up of 3 very important layers and I’m not talking about a curves or levels adjustment layer in Photoshop. The foreground, middle ground and a background layers of an image together create a feeling of depth on a 2D medium. Today I want to talk about introducing a foreground object onto your images to dramatically improve your landscapes.
Having an amazing sunrise/sunset location is a great start like the image above that I captured at Sandy Beach, NSW.
However you will notice that in Figure 2 whilst still at the same location as Figure 1 and taken only 5 minutes later that the introduction of a stick to the foreground of the frame gives the image a feeling of depth and scale for the viewer to connect with. The fact that the stick is more of a silhouette is a great way to balance the bright vibrant sky.
Just about anything can be used as a foreground subject like boats, shells, rocks, people, tall grass – the list goes on. The main idea of the subject is for it to be something the viewer can relate too and that will lead their eye into the image.
There is nothing wrong with physically positioning the subject in the frame like I have done with the stick. I actually found the stick further up the beach as I walked to my location. Try out a few positions to see what works.
The next trick is to make sure that when you set your focus that you do not focus on the horizon or the clouds. Set your focus on the foreground subject or something 1/3rd into the frame. For example, I could focus on the small rocks that are closer to the camera than the stick in Figure 2. This will give you sharp focus from the front to the back with an aperture of about f16.
Here is another example of layering with the silhoutte of the Greek Island building as my foreground and the cruise ship in my middle ground.
Why not try incorporating a foreground subject in your next landscape shot. I would love to see how you go so drop me a line in the comments or via the contact page.