Composition is one of the most fundamental skills you need to cultivate in order to create a successful photographic image. Managing all the elements that appear in your viewfinder to produce a pleasing, interesting and striking image can be a tricky task – and one that really only comes with experience and practice. |
There are, however, countless small tips that will help you build on your skills and afford you a greater understanding of how the various aspects that affect composition can be learned and put into practice.
How to Create Depth in an Image
Achieving a sense of depth and dimension within the confines of a frame can be the difference between a run-of-the-mill image and a truly memorable one – forcing the viewer to be completely drawn into the scene. Here’s how to create depth.
A Sum of Three Parts
Mentally dividing your frame into the background, middle and foreground gives you a starting point from which to compose your image. You need to work out an angle/aspect where you can maintain the connection between those three parts, while at the same time drawing the viewer’s eyes throughout the scene. One very effective way of doing this is to include an object in the foreground, which is somehow connected to something else in both the middle and background. That connection equals depth. (Using a wide angle lens can really help with this.)
Use Lines to Lead
Look for lines that lead the viewer’s eye from the bottom of the frame right through to the top of it. Lines can be found everywhere, from very real physical ones to those that are more abstract. For instance, power cables create very obvious leading lines, but something more natural like a row of trees or rocks, or the snake of a river can serve the same purpose but be more subtle. This is where taking the time to study a scene and experiment with your viewpoint can really help.
Use Focus and Foreground
Using selective shallow focus to have one subject/object in the foreground in sharp focus and the background blurred provides a real sense of depth and dimension within an image, as it creates a stark separation between them. Another way to achieve a similar result is to shoot through something in the foreground (leaves, grass window) to your subject in the middle or background. While the foreground still exists, because you are effectively looking through it, you’ll get a sense of depth between that and the subject and background.
Consider the Elements
In order to create depth, the key point is to consider the three different ‘sections’ of your image and their relationship to each other. The more you can convey that relationship, the greater depth and dimension your image will achieve.
Learn Tips from Photographic Icons: A Steve McCurry Photography Course
Tips like the one above are much easier to comprehend when seen in context and in practice. If you’re serious about developing your own skills and creative identity, further professional learning (like a Steve McCurry photography course) allows you to access the tips and tricks of renowned photographers at your own pace and in your own time.
Adam Harper is a Photography Consultant at Masters of Photography. If you’re looking for courses from the world’s greatest photographers, they offer a Steve McCurry photography course online as well as other excellent Masterclasses. Suitable for all levels, the courses provide lifetime access to easy to follow classes, allowing participants to learn valuable tips and tricks and take big steps to improve their photography. The online community affords the opportunity to find inspiration from both the Masters and fellow students.
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