Written by CH Cheah
Sunday, 19 October 2008 07:30
A photograph can typically be divided into foreground, subject and background. Most of these elements are present in a good photo.
The foreground plays an important role in the picture, if used correctly can provide a frame to rest viewer's viewpoint and provide a lead into the picture. Here, we will see how we can make use of a good foreground to enhance the composition of our photograph.
In the photograph above the red flowers provide a foreground interests to the row of building which is the subject of the picture. In this case the flowers in the foreground is also used to hide the untidy streets and the people walking on it which if included detracts from the main theme of the photograph which is the particular row of building at Pier 39 San Francisco. When used in this manner (attempting to hide unwanted elements from the photograph) one must make sure that the foreground does not dominate the picture lest it becomes more intrusion and distraction than the detail that you are attempting to hide.
In the shot of the lake above, I have angled the shot lower to capture the rocks in the foreground. In this case the foreground is purposefully added to add an element of interest in the photograph and to lead the viewer's eyes into the rest of the picture. If the camera angle had been higher, and the rocks not included, this would just end up as a boring shot of the water and the sky.
Whenever you include objects in the foreground, you have to take care of exposure to ensure that the foreground is exposed correctly together with the rest of the picture. If you underexposed the foreground, you would end up with a patch of dark shape with no details whatsoever as your foreground interests. That would hardly be a pretty picture! At times the foreground may be just to dark to be exposed properly relative to the subject and the background. In this case you may want to turn on your flash, use a reflector or just select another angle or foreground interests that may be more useable. With a digital camera, it is easy to do a rough check of your shot for exposure on the LCD.
Typically the foreground should fill less than 1/3rd on the bottom of your photograph. It is afterall a foreground interests and should complement your main subject and not draw attention away from it.
The above photograph just goes to show that sometimes you can break the rules and still get good results. The shot had been taken from a lower level such that the brown stones took up more than 1/3 of the frame. The rocks move from the foreground and leads the viewer into the sea beyond, creating an engaging composition. If the shot had been taking from the usual standing angle, it would just become a dull stretch of sea with no other interests.
So next time when you are taking a photograph or even a snapshot, look into your viewfinder and notice what is in your foreground. Consider whether it detracts from the picture or adds to it and choose another point of view with a different foreground element if it is the former. With practice, this would become a second nature and results in better composed photographs.
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