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Better composition using foreground elements

6 min read

Its all about the foreground elements
Getting good and eye catching photographs is all a photographer dreams of and aspires to be. When I first logged into 500px I was amazed at the quality of landscape photographs over there. Each and every landscape photograph was so good that I started staring at it and got amazed by them.

Then I looked at my photographs and saw how pathetic they were. Even though technically the photograph was well exposed it was no were close to a compositionally strong image. There was nothing in my image which could hold my eye to any particular point. I put the two images side by side i.e. one from 500px and the other photograph was mine. The only glaring difference I could find was that all my images were missing foreground elements. I was surprised how good a photograph looks like when it has a foreground element or some leading lines leading into the middle ground and then ultimately to the background.

Ways in which foreground elements help

Photography primarily is representing the 3D world in a 2D medium but making it feel like it is 3D in nature. A photograph primarily can be divided into 3 parts, namely the foreground, middleground and background. If a photograph has all these three elements it makes for a compositionally strong and visually pleasing image. Having any foreground interest helps to create depth in our photographs. Let us look at a photograph and try and understand.

satkosia gorge

Now let us analyze the picture and see how foreground elements adds another dimension to our photographs. The foreground interest is the dominating element of the picture and simply by looking at the photograph, our eyes goes to this part of the image. Our eyes gets locked onto this foreground element and that is what we want as photographers; to grab the viewer’s eyes. After we have included some really interesting foreground element we need to think of the middle ground and background. Think of it this way, if in a plate of pepper chicken, if the chicken is the foreground, the middleground and background acts as the garnishing. These two parts namely the middle-ground and background binds the picture together where the foreground acts as the anchor. Our eyes first catches the anchor, roams around the rest of the scene, and then again goes back to the anchor foreground element.

A few more examples of photographs having good foreground elements would help explain this fact a lot more.

usri fall, giridih


I always try and make my landscape photographs as interesting as possible with the help of foreground elements. In fact it is not only related with landscape photography only, but with many genres of photography. Good street photography too can be achieved when foreground elements are added.

Here I would like to take the opportunity and mention one of my mentor’s name. He is Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a landscape photographer based out of USA. His use of foreground elements in his fineart landscape is superlative to say the least. He shoots a lot of verticals too which is perfect for images with good strong foreground elements. Do check out his work at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rajesh_b/ . I am sure anybody will fall in love with his work.

What is your secret of making your photographs more interesting? Share your views in the comments below and let us all learn together. If you like this blog post then do share it on facebook, like it, +1 it on g+ or retweet it to your followers. Share a picture of how you’re photographs are using foreground elements. The more interaction we have the better we can learn.

Till next time happy making the foreground interesting 😉

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