Foreground Midground Background Interest

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Rules of good composition date back to the masters of the Renaissance. They’ve become “rules” because they work. There are circumstances allowing them to be successfully broken, but it’s paramount to first become proficient with their use to know how to break them. Once mastered, it’s easier to realize you need not apply them to every photographic composition you create.

One of the most important rules of composition is to arrange all the elements in an orderly way. This includes having a foreground, middle ground, and background that work in harmony. The viewer’s eye should be lead through each of these areas without encountering any distractions or disturbances. Each area should complement the other and have a logical connection. If any one of these layers is missing or void of important subject matter, empty areas are created leaving gaps in the composition. The result leaves the viewer wondering why they appear in the image. At this point the viewer’s interest is lost.

Wide angle lenses work great to create the classic foreground to background look, but telephotos also work well as demonstrated by the accompanying examples. It’s not what lens you use as much as it is what you include in the composition with that lens. Regardless of lens choice, make the composition clean, eliminate distractions, and make it evident to the viewer that there’s a strong foreground, mid and background that work in harmony.


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