To the Fore
The essence of composition is to select elements from the scene in front of you and organise them in the image frame in a harmonious way. It is important to direct the attention of the viewer of your image into the frame and towards the main subject, or, with a landscape image (which may not have a ‘subject’ as such) to the focal point of the composition.
One way to do this is by using foreground interest. This principle is simple enough; by getting in close to a foreground object with a wide-angle lens, the object will loom large in the frame, with the background stretching out behind it. This enhances linear perspective and creates the impression of depth in the image.
However, there are a couple of points that need to be kept in mind. For this technique to be effective, the close foreground needs to be sharp, as does the background, so controlling the depth of field is vital. This is done by calculating the hyperlocal distance. Choosing the correct foreground subject is also critical. It can be tempting to setup in front of the nearest huge rock, but you need to select a foreground that is sympathetic to the background and helps tie the different planes together – one that invites the eye into the picture. Complementary shapes, textures, and colours will help to unify the foreground and background.
So, when working on this assignment I didn’t just concentrate on the technical side of things, but I also looked for a foreground that worked with the scene in front of the camera.
- Set the camera up high enough when using a close foreground so that you can see over the object.Consider shapes when choosing foreground subjects. Squares and rectangles tend to block the view, triangles and ‘V’ shapes pull the eye into the picture.
- Wideangle lens.
- Hyperfocal distance chart or depth of field smartphone app.
- To maximise depth of field with close foreground interest, use a small aperture and focus at exactly the right distance.
- The focusing distance that gives maximum depth of field is called the hyperfocal distance, and it changes with focal length and aperture.
- If you focus at the hyperfocal distance, everything from half that distance to infinity will be sharp.
- You can find the hyperfocal distance for your camera and focal length/aperture combination by using an app such as PhotoPills or looking online for a chart.