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Creating foreground interest in landscape photography can improve your landscape photography in general and is often an important step between a really nice landscape image and a truly outstanding one.
To help you learn how to create foreground interest we will present landscape tips you can use to create foreground interest in landscape photography.
To start out, let’s answer the questions of what is foreground interest and why is foreground interest important.
What Is Foreground Interest?
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Foreground interest in landscape photography is a form of compositional control wherein we have our landscape view of a great scene and make it more interesting by placing something in the foreground to also gain our interest.
Foreground elements are competing for viewers attention, it’s complementing or perhaps even completing the main subject.
Sometimes, the foreground interest is the main subject of the composition, but in order to have it qualify as a foreground element of an overall composition as opposed to simply a close or mid range view of something, then it shouldn't overshadow the background but make it a continuation or addition to the viewer’s interest.
Why Is Foreground Interest Important?
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Foreground interest is important because it can either add power to a composition or it can balance a composition of a landscape view.
One of the ways that foreground interest can add power to an image of a great view is to accentuate how grand the view by putting something in your place. In other words, the foreground subject is basically acting as a placeholder for the viewer of the scene.
The viewer can see the foreground element and imagine themselves in its place, thus making the grand view of the scene seem even more important. An example might be a beautiful and epic view of a spring storm over a snow-capped mountain range with delicate alpine flowers in the foreground. The difference between foreground and background elements is distinct in this style of composition.
Foreground interest can be used to balance a scene when the foreground elements blend gradually into the rest of the view. The curve of a shoreline or a river leading into the background is an example of this style of composition. So, leading lines composition technique is a way to create foreground interest.
What are some other methods of how to create foreground interest?
How Do You Include Foreground Interest?
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Two primary tools are used to create foreground interest, depth of field and composition. In addition to these methods as tools, a couple of other tools can also assist. A good tripod or tripod alternative, a wide-angle lens, and split field filters are a few pieces of gear that can help in our quest of how to create foreground interest.
The depth of field control and composition work hand in hand for both styles of foreground interest in landscape photography mentioned earlier. With a wide-angle lens stopped down to a small aperture and using the technique of hyperfocal distance, we can often have more than enough depth of field for almost any composition we choose.
Since we’re often using small apertures to maximize depth of field, our shutter speeds will tend to be longer. So some form of camera support is often required. If you don’t want to carry a tripod, there are some useful alternatives.
One of the better tripod alternatives for landscape photography is the OctoPad. This is a weighted disk with a non-slip pad on the bottom and a tripod head on top. It’s semi-rigid, so it can conform to a lot of different surfaces from brick walls to tree stumps. OctoPad is compact, easy to carry, and inexpensive.
A wide-angle lens is usually our go-to lens choice for many landscape photography situations, but there’s no need to limit ourselves to only using wide-angle lenses. Though it may be a little difficult to achieve deep depth of focus with longer lenses, sometimes they may be a better choice for some types of scenes.
If the foreground and background are too far apart for your lens choice, aperture, and hyperfocal distance to handle, a split field close up filter might be the answer. There are screw-in examples of this filter, half of the filter being a piece of optical glass the other half empty. Or you can use a filter holder system and place the close up filter exactly where you need it.
This filter solution only really works with a scene that has a lot of separation between the near and far subject elements. The gradual transition leading line style of foreground interest generally won’t be able to benefit from a split field filter.
Combine With Other Techniques
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How to create foreground interest is a technique using focus and composition, so it makes sense to combine it with other composition techniques.
The Rule of Thirds works quite well with creating foreground interest. An interesting way to work the two techniques together is to have the foreground interest element on one intersection point or one line and the background along another line. You can even combine vertical and horizontal placement.
Leading Lines and S Curves also fit well with creating foreground interest. Experiment for yourself with different lenses, compositions, and lens apertures to get the most out of your new skill.