Make Your Photos Look 3D With These Methods

Breathing life into your photographs can make the difference between an average shot and a masterpiece. But how can we bring life into a flat piece of paper? Depth is all you need.

In my video about how to bring depth into your photographs, I gave you a comprehensive overview of different methods and strategies, especially for landscape photography. But most of these methods work with each genre of photography as well.

Adding Depth With Size

We all know that the closer an element is to us, the bigger it looks. The farther away it is, the smaller it gets. But we also know that a little rock is smaller than an entire mountain. So, if we go close now to a rock in the foreground, the rock appears often as big or even bigger than the big mountain in the distance, which leads to a fantastic sense of depth. A quite good tip is here to use a shorter focal length to get even closer to your foreground. This makes the foreground element even bigger and the distant elements smaller.

Adding Depth With Repeating Patterns

Patterns that are going into the distance are a fantastic way for getting a sense of depth in our photographs. Grass bushes in a landscape, repeating shapes of peaks in the mountains, or roots are simple to use and powerful. When the same element exists prominently in the foreground as well as in the distance, we get depth due to that repetition.

Adding Depth With Vanishing Lines

Leading lines are a good idea to get control over the viewer’s eyes, but there is one sort of leading line that emphasizes even an amazing sense of depth. This happens when lines lead the viewer closer to the vanishing point. This is what we call “vanishing lines.” When I’m out for landscape photography, I always look for vanishing lines.

Adding Depth With Atmospheric Conditions

Atmospheric conditions are such a simple but powerful way to get depth in your outdoor photographs. Haze leads into a nice layering effect over mountain ranges in the distance, which ends up in a fantastic sense of depth. In your post-processing, the contrast needs to needs to decrease the more the elements are in the distance. Mist between elements emphasizes the space between, which is even more emphasized with using a longer focal length.

Adding Depth With The Right Light

Everything that brings depth into a photograph leads a bit more into a 3D look. What makes you feel as though you could even walk into is the direction and quality of the light. Soft sidelight, for instance, emphasizes the plasticity of an element in such an enchanting way. It shows us that the element reaches farther into the distance, and all the micro-contrasts and textures on the surface of the element make us feel that it would belong to our real three-dimensional world.

Many more details and even more tips about how to get depth into your photographs, especially for landscape photography, are revealed in the video above.

Christian Irmler's picture

Christian Irmler is a passioned landscape photographer from Austria who comes from a line of artists.
He engages already his whole life with the compositions of the paintings of his family. In 1990 he began with photography and started to implement all his knowledge from painting into his photography.

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