Foreground is Key When Shooting Scenics

What's up front counts

Nothing says “boring” in a scenic more than just showing the scene. No matter how dramatic the vista in front of you, making sure there’s an interesting element in the foreground will almost always transform it into a more interesting photo.

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A foreground element can add a sense of scale, provide contrast, or a splash of color. It can even change the image. A grandiose scenic with a discarded soda bottle in the foreground changes the image’s context from a document showing nature’s beauty to a comment on human waste and pollution, for example. A tree and overhanging branches in the foreground can help to frame a scene.

Build context: This sense of isolation in this beach scene is emphasized by the blue table in the foreground. Photo by Mason Resnick

Foreground elements also solve a common problem in scenics--atmospheric haze. Haze can dull distant colors, while foreground elements will be rendered vividly and therefore provide a visual point of interest.

A real cliffhanger: The brave person in the foreground adds a human element and provides a clear contrast to atmospheric haze in this stunning view. Photo © MAYBAYBUTTER

Focus on the foreground and make sure to use a small aperture so you’ll have enough depth of field for both foreground and background to be in focus. Use a tripod and/or image stabilization to reduce image blur due to longer shutter speeds, which may be caused by using smaller apertures.


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