Landscape Depth Artistic Composition Rule
Photographing landscapes is one of my favorite styles of photography. It’s not just because they look fantastic as wallpapers and screensavers on my MacBook, but because when I am shooting them, I get to enjoy being in the wide-open spaces of Northern California’s natural beauty. Hiking through national parks and wandering along mountain paths through redwood forests, the tallest trees on Earth, fuels the spirit and awakens my creativity. I get physical exercise, amazing photos, and it gives me an opportunity to practice mindfulness along the way. Over the years, I’ve used the Wise Camera app to capture the essence of the scenery in front of me within a photograph. These images turn out like they’ve been taken by a professional photographer, and it’s all due to the artistic composition rule called ‘landscape depth’.
What is Landscape Depth?
Look at any set of celebrated landscape photos and you’ll see they all have one thing in common: they all have depth. Include some objects in the foreground of your photos to give perspective to the image. The viewer notices the items in the front of the photo, then their eyes travel to the middle, and eventually, they reach the background. Appropriate foreground elements you can add to the frame include wildflowers, boulders, and grazing animals. Middle elements can be a lake, waterfall, or log cabin. Good backgrounds include dramatic cloud formations, sunsets, or rolling hills. With this layered approach that includes elements close to you and elements far away, the landscape depth composition takes a two-dimensional digital image and makes it appear to have a third dimension within the photo. It makes the photo more like a window to another world rather than a flat print.
Tips for Using Landscape Depth
When you stand in nature and look at the vista in front of you, it’s tempting to raise your iPhone and snap away at the scenery without paying much attention as to why the view appealed to you in the first place. Doing this might make the photo boring with no story to tell. Before taking a landscape photo, open the Wise Camera app and select the landscape depth composition tool, which will guide you on how to apply depth to your landscape photo. Here are some extra suggestions for taking amazing landscape photos.
Decide what you want the main subject to be in the scene. It could be a prominent mountain range, a forest in the distance, or a sunset far in the horizon. You can include a few lesser subjects in one photo, as long as they don’t compete for the attention of the viewer. The idea is to give the viewer the opportunity to look around the image but not to become distracted or lost. Their eyes should always come back to rest upon the main subject located farther out than the rest of the elements in the frame.
Now, you have to feature that subject within the frame of the image. It is preferable that the main subject is at the rear of the scene with good supporting elements near and around the scene. Don’t put the key subject at the front of your image. The idea of landscape photography is to slowly lead the viewer towards the payoff, the main subject, which is far away in the view. If they see the main subject first, then everything else in the image is simply background material. Make sure that there is a clear definition between the foreground, middle, and background of the frame. These well defined layers of the image will give the illusion of depth required for a powerful landscape photo.
If you feel that the position you stand in is the best one for a landscape photo, but you don’t see an interesting foreground object to add depth to the image, bend your knees and get closer to the ground. Grass, rocks, and sand may not be photogenic, but they don’t have to be significant features in the landscape image; they just have to do the job of being the closest layer to you.
Remember to tilt your iPhone to a horizontal format to fit more of the landscape into the shot. Some landscape images look good as vertical shots, but most use the horizontal shape to showcase the width and grandeur of the scene. Note that the iPhone might want to focus on the closest elements making the background out of focus, so make sure your main subject in the background is always in focus.
Using the Wise Camera app gives you guidelines showing where to position the foreground, middle, and background, including the horizon. Tapping the screen with your finger moves the horizon to match the view at your location. The app also shows perspective lines reminding you to incorporate elements of your photo’s story in positions that lead the eye to the background. Most of the time, the story of a landscape is simply that you are showcasing an extraordinarily beautiful region of wilderness, but corresponding elements such as trees, creeks, and paths all contribute to the story you want to share through this photo.
Memorable landscape photography always uses layers of imagery. It’s the ideal way to show distance and depth in the image. Remember the composition rule called ‘landscape depth’ in the Wise Camera app when you want to highlight the main subject while giving context to the vastness of the area the subject belongs in. When you arrive at a scenic lookout, don’t take the same shot as everyone else. Look around for a layer of foreground and give your image an extra dimension of visual appeal.
A little about me. I love creating digital products! Making Apple apps has been a fantastic creative outlet and a collaborative experience with many talented people. Helping others with what I love to do inspires me. You can find all my apps at my Digiguys Apps website.