Foreground, middle-ground, background

November 14, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

There is a trusted formula for successful landscape photography. The formula does not suit all scenes but a good number of them. To have great depth and interest to pull the viewer into the image the formula says photograph an image with a good foreground, middle-ground, and background. Ask yourself if you have a clear foreground, a clear middle-ground, and an interesting background. The viewer's eyes will go from the foreground to the middle-ground, and on to the background. This is what we want. We always want our viewers to look into the image rather than from side to side.

At ground level, the middle-ground boulders pierced into the sky making them the background. They would mesh with the mountain in the back and the mountain would lose any prominence. The sky did not have anything to offer the image so there was no point shooting up into it. So I decided to gain some elevation. I climbed up onto the boulders behind this image. The additional height created a scene with a clear foreground, middle-ground, and left the mountains with enough prominence to be the background.

          Having a foreground, middle-ground, and background that is clearly distinct from each other helps to separate them from each other and creates depth. These elements almost act like stepping stones poking out of the water. They invite you to step into the scene. Without them, the water prevents the viewer from crossing it. So a foreground, middle-ground, and background act like stepping stones for our eyes, inviting us to step (visually) from one to the next and into the scene.

          Yes, the light is not great which means that the image is not great. But it is not a terrible image either. What made it possible to get an "okay" image in poor light? The trusted formula did its work.


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