Up Close And Personal

When photographing landscapes, especially with a wide angle lens, I often place my lens closeup to my foreground element. Doing so accentuates the prominence of your foreground in the composition by giving the illusion that it is larger than it really is.

Below are a few examples of how I used a wide angle lens to showcase the importance of the foreground within each scene.

Take a look at these other Closeups in this weeks photo challenge.

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30 thoughts on “Up Close And Personal

    • It sure does. The thing that took me a while to realize when I first started out was that the foreground doesn’t need to be all that spectacular either. Just something eye catching that gives the viewer a place to start their visual journey through the image.

    • Thank you! I ran into the same thing when moving up from the 7D MkII to the 5D MkIII. I loved my Tokina 11-16. Fortunately I still have, and highly recommend the Canon 17-40L. Which perfectly gives me the ultra-wide on a full frame that the Tokina did on the APS-C camera. Plus, with an average used price of around $550 they’re a great deal for an “L” lens.

    • Thanks a lot, Frank. You’ll have to be more specific as to the one you like the most, I have their order set to random so “the third one” could be any of them. 😉

  1. Hi Jeff,
    I particularly like the second shot. I love how the focus is on the flower and the depth of field is used to emphasise the background fading off into the distance. It is a very clever use of DoF. I often use foreground to add perspective to landscape shots but my DoF usually blurs the foreground.

    Your approach is something I shall definitely look to try out.
    Thanks
    Alan

    • Hey Alan,
      Thanks! In the process of trying not to kill myself climbing down to this waterfall I passed several of these hobblebushes with their bright white flowers. On the way back up the idea just struck me to give this a try. I almost always place the focus on the waterfall and usually try to attain as much DOF as I can. I thought this might work out well if I could keep the background sharp enough so that it was immediately recognizable yet out of focus enough to not steel the show from the flower.

    • Sure thing! It’s pretty easy actually. The trick is knowing what you want and where to focus to get it. How much depth of field you want will determine where you focus. For example, in the photo with the flower I wanted the waterfall to be out of focus, but I still wanted it to be recognizable too. So I set the camera up so the flower was about 6-8 inches from the front of the lens, chose a mid range aperture of f/8, and pressed the shutter. I did experiment with aperture which is how I came up with f/8 in the final photo. I wanted enough depth of field to keep some detail in the waterfall/background, without taking attention away from the flower. The thing to remember is that when you focus very close to the lens the background is going to be somewhat out of focus no matter how much you stop down the lens.

      Now with the waterfall photo, even though I wanted to emphasize the cairn in the foreground, I still wanted as much depth of field as I could. I still set my camera up relatively close to the cairn since it was very small, only about 12 inches tall, but this time I stopped down to f/16 and focused about 1/3 of the way into the scene. I think I actually focused on the log that’s just upstream of the cairn.

      This is where I could go on and on about hyper-focal distance, but I’ve found when I want a lot of DOF, focusing about 1/3 of the way into the scene gives me all the DOF I need 90+% of the time. Sometimes I will play around with where I focus in order to make sure that I get everything from near to far to appear sharp.

      I hope that was quick enough and helpful enough for you.

      Oops, almost forgot. This is all based on you selecting the focus point you’re using and not letting the camera decide where you want to focus. If you’re not familiar on how to select the focus point yourself I would dig out the manual, or give it a little Google to find out how.

      • thank you sooooo much, Jeff! I guess I was not far from the right thing to do, then! but knowing a little more how you do it helps thinking about my own ways.
        I’ll have to put the focus of the camera on manual next time, in order to focus 1/3 of the way into the scene, and will play more on the distance between me and my foreground.

        Leaving to Mexico tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have great inspiration during the next 3 weeks there.

        Wishing you a beautiful, colorful and inspiring summer!
        Thanks again!

        • You shouldn’t have to resort to manual focus. Most DSLRs have the ability to allow you to select specific focus points. You can just align one of these points with where you want to focus. When I do use manual focus I usually use live view and zoom in as far as I can to ensure I am getting the focus right. My aging eyes need all the help they can get!

          Have a safe trip and enjoy the next three weeks!

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