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Emphasizing Foreground in Landscapes

Learn how to emphasize the foreground in your landscape photography from professional photographer Luke Ballard in this Howcast video.


When taking a landscape, people seem to think that it's the backdrop, that it's the thing at the back of the view, kind of like those old Renaissance paintings that are hanging up in your grandmother's living room. In truth, the landscape starts from where the lens ends. Everything from the lens to infinity is your landscape photograph, and the more vibrant, the more explosive, and the more part of the story that your foreground is, the more effective your landscape. There are three things I do to really try and emphasize my landscape.

The first thing is I pick a focal point generally towards the front. In this case I didn't. I used the ruins there in my mid-ground, but I've still got a very impacting foreground, which is still part of my focus, and that is the llamas. The second thing I do is I raise my horizon. I make sure that my horizon is up on the two-third line, on the top horizontal part of my rule of thirds. The third thing that I like to do is shoot it from a lower angle. Most photographs you see of Macchu Pichu in Peru are shot from above. You're seeing the entire ruins, and you're seeing the mountain.

But using that less is more philosophy, coming from lower and shooting up towards Macchu Pichu, I'm perhaps creating a little bit more impact and a little bit more power in my photograph than perhaps if I've shot it from above. So when I'm shooting a landscape, I try to shoot from below. I try to shoot up towards my landscape rather than from above to create a much more powerful and impacting photograph with a lot more focus on my foreground and definitely more of a story.

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