Forget the Foreground: Why Doing This Will Improve Your Landscape Photos

We all know what the rule of thirds is, right? And we all know that in the bottom third of the frame, we often have a foreground element of interest. Take a look here to see how going without any foreground at all can greatly improve your landscape images.

Like some people quote Ansel Adams as their inspiration even though they wouldn't have a clue who he is or what he did, many people will tell you that your compositions should always follow the rule of thirds technique. That's because it's so ubiquitously known and followed. Indeed, most cameras, including smartphones, even have a rule of thirds grid setting you can toggle on and off: three horizontal rows, three vertical columns, four intersecting points, and a foreground, middle, and background. Place your elements of interest using these guides in mind, and bingo, you have a great shot. But we all know that rules are also meant to be broken.

And that brings us to this great video by Henry Turner, in which he takes us out into some gorgeous UK forests and shows us that you don't always need to follow the rule of thirds. In fact, he goes so far as to completely eliminate the use of any foreground element in a waterfall shot, and it comes out beautifully. Why did he do it? Because sometimes, the foreground offers us nothing. It really is as simple as that. Rather than force yourself to follow rules, you need to shoot what's in front of you and work with what you have. To see how good images can look completely devoid of a foreground, check out the video and let me know your thoughts.

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Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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