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Nature And Landscape Photography Tips - Foreground Vs. Background

Jan 20, 2008
Many people may wonder: What makes a good landscape photo? The answer to this question is not that simple. Personally I believe that simple photos are the best. Still, you don't want them to be so simple that they're boring. On the other hand, you don't want so much going on that the audience has no idea what they're looking at. You have to strike a balance between being too plain and being too complex. I think the main thing to keep in mind is balancing the background vs. the foreground.

A lot of your standard landscape shots are taken with a large depth of field, so you want the aperture to be smaller (using a larger F value). This way, you have objects close to the lens in focus as well as objects far away from the lens. As with any rule, there are exceptions. In case you want to get the blurred effect of some objects in the foreground, but with the background in focus, you wouldn't use a small aperture but a larger one. For example if you're taking a shot of a mountain through a field of flowers, you might want to experiment with how it looks using a large aperture which can be used to blur the flowers in the background and keep the mountains in focus (or vice versa), or you can try keeping the aperture small to keep the entire shot (foreground and background) in focus instead.

Don't Forget about the Foreground

Something many people looking to improve their landscape photos should do is to use a proper foreground. Of course, you can take a beautiful ocean or sunset and I'm sure it looks lovely. Still, it likely looks just any other ocean or landscape photo that millions of other people have taken. You should try being a little more unique. Like a ninja, use the surrounding objects to your advantage. If you're on a beach, see if you can stand near a cool rock formation, jetty or dock and place that in the foreground. Remember, you don't want to overpower the main subject of the ocean or sunset with these foreground objects, but instead you want them to complement the main subject and enhance the way it looks.

You might also consider using trees, flowers or other natural objects in front on your main subject as foregrounds. Additionally, man made structures oftentimes provide a great contrast to beautiful nature landscape shots in the background. If you're shooting from the top of a building, try including other buildings in the shot as well. At sunset, if you place objects directly between the sun and your shot, you can often get hard-line black silhouettes which can have a neat effect at times. To add a personal touch to your photos, add some silhouettes of interesting and anonymous people or objects in the foreground.

I hope this gave you a few more ideas on how you can improve your landscape and nature photography. Keep on shooting!
About the Author
Ian Spellfield is a professional photographer who specializes in landscape photography. He does his best to help others out by teaching them how to take nature and landscape photos.
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