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Landscape Photographer Michèle Thompson On the Importance of Foreground in Composition (Member Post)

Photography and writing by Michèle Thompson aka Magpienmoo

WHAT IS FOREGROUND?

Let’s start with explaining what foreground is and why it is important in photography.

In photography, the foreground is as the word suggests, the part of the scene that is closest to the viewer/camera. When you look through your viewfinder on your camera or on your smartphone screen the foreground is the part of the image that is in the bottom part of your photo (mid ground is the middle third and background is the top third).

A good foreground acts like an introduction to the image and is what initially draws the viewer’s eye in. Hence you do not want to leave it empty. Look to fill it with some interest like flowers, plants, rocks, tree roots, leading lines or anything that is near to you and in frame. Let’s look at some examples to demonstrate this compositional technique. In each of the following photos look to see what is being used in the foreground to draw the eye in.

Gallery: click to open lightbox, use arrows to navigate

TIPS FOR SETTING UP FOREGROUNDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Let me now close with 3 tips I have learned over the years:

1.   Once you find an interesting subject or background,  try to look around for an interesting foreground element  to use to complete the photo;

2   Don’t be afraid to change your perspective. If you find a nice foreground that won’t fit into the scene, try moving you and and or  your camera higher, lower, or to the side to include the foreground into the frame.

3. Start small.  When I first started looking for foreground elements to include in my photos I kept in my mind a small list of 2-3  possible things which I could use  eg flowers, bushes ,rocks and looked for those.  Once the concept of foreground became more natural,  whenever I  went out shooting  I expanded to include other things as a foreground element.   

Tew's Falls Ontario winter leaf - Photographer @magpie_n_moo / Michèle Thompson
Tiffany Falls Ontario winter leaf – Photographer @magpie_n_moo / Michèle Thompson
Toronto sunrise at Humber Bay - Photographer @magpie_n_moo / Michèle Thompson
Toronto sunrise at Humber Bay – Photographer @magpie_n_moo / Michèle Thompson
Toronto sunrise with feather - Photo by @magpie_n_moo Michele Thompson
– Photo by @magpie_n_moo / Michele Thompson

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