Maximizing Foregrounds

We often talk about the background of an image, focusing on its importance in the overall composition of the image. There is another area, however, which we don’t often pay notice to, but which can elevate the effect of an image. This is the foreground, or the portion of the frame that is closer to the camera than the subject. There are quite a few ways to bring attention to the foreground:

Use a low viewpoint – try placing your camera lower than eye level and slightly tilted upwards. This perspective will give the foreground some emphasis since the camera is literally closer to the ground. With this viewpoint comes the impression of being small because the subject might appear to loom over the camera. You can experiment with using the foreground to show notions of dominance, strength, formidability or weakness.

Elevate horizon line – if your image has a horizon, place the horizon line on the upper third of the frame to emphasize the ground instead of the lower third which would emphasize the sky. Of course, there should be something for the viewer to look at if 2/3 of the frame is the foreground. This brings me to the next point which is foreground interest.

Add foreground interest – this will draw the viewer’s eye towards the subject. It will also fill the empty sections in the frame. Don’t make the foreground too interesting, though, or it will steal attention away from the subject and it might end up becoming the main point of interest.

Adjust your aperture – a small aperture will allow more of the scene to be in focus so that a bigger area (such as from foreground to background) will appear clear in the shot. On the other hand, you can also fix your lens opening to make the foreground blurry but still show recognizable shapes to support the subject. For instance, a foreground filled with red roses can be a little out of focus while the young lady smelling the flowers is sharp and clear. The flowers will not steal attention from the subject but rather provide support to the subject’s activity, plus they can also act as a natural frame.

Include leading lines – these will help draw the viewer’s eyes from the foreground upwards or inwards toward the subject. They don’t have to be straight lines, curves or winding lines are perfectly fine. They don’t even have to be lines, a set of objects or shapes that will lead you to look at the subject will do.



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