Home » Creativity » Currently Reading:

5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

December 17, 2012 Creativity 2 Comments

Written by: Charlie Borland

There are many ways to use composition to tell your visual story in a photograph. As photographers we can create stronger images when employing compositional techniques that guide the viewer through the image.

We all know the eye sees differently than the camera, so it is a skill to organize the elements into a composition that resembles what our minds eye saw.

Since a photograph is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional scene, there is a need to show the viewer that the scene has great depth, or the subject is close or far, or small or large.

This is done by using our lens to create in many ways, illusions that emphasize depth. Any lens can work but the wide angle is often the preferred approach since it allows easier creation of visual depth.

Wide angles create the ‘near-far’ view by using perspective distortion thus giving the illusion that the subjects closest to the camera are even closer and background objects are further.

You can in effect, tell the viewer of your photograph what you want them to see in your image by using compositional strategies that guide their eye to that point. Here are a few:

Scale

In many wide angle compositions, foreground objects that are closer to the camera appear larger than the same object of the same size, further from the camera. This is known as diminishing scale.

ak fireweed 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Alaska

 

In this image the foreground flowers loom large as those in the background appear smaller despite being the same size. This large foreground creates the illusion of depth, depth that might appear greater than it really is, and guides the eye to the background and creek.

Vanishing point

Vanishing point is a very powerful approach to creating the illusion of scene depth. In most cases strong elements in the scene force the eye to move through and arrive at a destination which in some cases has vanished and thus the name Vanishing Point.

 

or south sister 003 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Central Oregon

Vanishing Point is also a great way to arrange scene elements to deliver the viewer to the point in a composition where you want them to stop. Here the stripes in the road deliver the viewer right to the mountain, the star of the image.

 

fl carrabelle 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Florida

In another approach the perspective of the dock takes the viewer to the end of the dock, the visual destination. Here, a combination of leading lines combined with vanishing point creates an image strong on composition.

Stacking

Stacking is the term for arranging elements to overlap in the composition. This approach can work for many subjects such as trees in the forest and it is one of the visual approaches that work well with telephoto lenses.

 

az lwr antelope cyn borland1108 9283 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Antelope Canyon

This Antelope Canyon image is a great example of stacking where the foreground elements are partially in front of the background elements in an overlap manner.

Leading lines

Another popular and effective visual approach is leading lines. While this approach often uses lines, the elements in the scene the lead the eye do not by any means have to be lines. They could be objects of any shape that when framed in the composition, lead the eye.

Powerlines 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Powerlines

These power lines in the desert, illuminated by the setting sun, lead the eye through the frame and essentially point at the mountain in the background.

or columbia r gorge 026507 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Oregon

As I mentioned, not all ‘leading’ elements need to be lines. Here the steps guide the eye to the waterfall in the background in an almost inviting way. With the steps much larger in the foreground, it is natural for the eye to be attracted to this area first and then move on to the background.

az page the fins borland1108 9612 682x1024 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Page, AZ

This image uses sandstone layers to guide the eye into the scene and eventually the horizon.

Near far

The near-far concept uses foreground elements combined with mid-ground and distant elements to create the sense of depth. We subconsciously view items in the foreground to be closer while the background is further and the careful arrangement of scene composition can emphasize this.

In many ways a near-far can be created with any lens and not require the wide angle to over emphasize the foreground.

 

or ft rock st park oregon 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

Ft. Rock, Oregon

This image shows the near-far approach. Shot with a normal lens, the sagebrush in the foreground provide the sense that they are close to the camera while the rock is in the distance. The sunrise light on the sagebrush adds additional emphasis to the foreground.

There are many ways to create imagery that wows your viewers and guides them through a photograph. These examples are just a sample of varying approaches that have traditionally worked well for nature photographers.

There is as well, many images that several compositional approaches and create even stronger images that win over fans of your photography.

If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment.

Related posts: 7 Exercises to Stimulate Your Creativity,   How to Know if You Have Found Your Photographic Vision

plant visual flow 5 Techniques for Drawing the Viewer Into Your Photograph

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jeff Colburn says:

    These are great techniques. Artists have been using them for a long time, and they really work.

    Have Fun,
    Jeff

  2. Brenda Tharp says:

    Great post, Charlie – of course I use these concepts in my photography – they are classic ideas to help bring depth to the scene – any scene! Thanks for sharing this information for others, too. Whoever reads this and applies these techniques will certainly make better photographs!

Comment on this Article:







VISIT OUR EBOOK STORE

"Infinity View" -Montana De Oro SP

visit ebook store

COOL STUFF




Subscribe

Timerhttp://www.facebookloginhut.com/facebook-login/

Subscribe by email:

PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, AND OTHER SITES

Permission to pin, re-pin, or post images on Pinterest, Instagram (or any site) taken from this site is expressly forbidden without written permission from the copyright holder of the image. If you do not have that permission, do not pin, re-pin, or post images from this site on Pinterest, Instagram, or any other site. If you do re-pin or re-post any image from this site, you assume all liability in how any image re-posted or re-pinned by you, is used, infringed, or results in copyright violations. If we find you re-posted, re-pinned, or copied an image we will come calling. Why? Unauthorized and illegal use that is clearly defined under copyright infringement laws has occurred with images lifted off this site. Thank you!
  • About
  • Contact Us
  • Our Mission
  • The ProNature eBook Store
  • CONTRIBUTE TO PNP
  • The David Muench Interview Series
  • CATEGORIES
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010