Lupine, Gold Beach, CA

I know, you didn’t ask for homework this summer but then again who does? I remember getting homework for the summer, I think. I am sure that not only did I never do it I never had any intention of doing it. Summer is for hiking and swimming and reading the sports page. It is certainly not for homework. I mean really, who would do homework in the summer?

You, for one! Here is your assignment. Next time you are out taking pictures and you are setting up a nice landscape stop, step away from your camera and examine the foreground. I bet that it is either not very compelling or not very close. Your homework is to spend some time finding the best possible foreground and then emphasizing it in your composition.

The foreground is that part of your composition that is closest to your camera. For  compelling landscape photos your foreground needs to be 3 to 4 feet (or even closer!) away from your camera. That’s right 3 to  4 feet. For foregrounds that have small things in them, say tiny flowers, you need to be even closer. If your foreground is dominated by a large object, say a stump or a clump of wildflowers then you may have to move back a bit, but not too far. The secret is to fill your composition with a great foreground.

Look at the photo above. When you take a close look at it you will notice that half of the composition is within 5 feet of the camera. In fact, three quarters of the composition is within about 8 feet of the camera! I am emphasizing the pretty lupine and big driftwood logs. That is what I think is compelling about this scene so I made it a big part of my composition. The last one quarter of the composition places the lupine and logs on a beach.

Remember, a nice landscape becomes a great landscape when the foreground is close, compelling and really cool. Take your time, great foregrounds are out there to be found.