Layered Landscapes

Fran Halsall encourages you to pay careful attention to the layers present in the landscape in order to avoid compositional flatness

One of the ways that photographs differ from our own perception of the world is an issue of flatness: where we experience three dimensions, the camera records two. Criticising an image for being ‘flat’ encompasses both matters of lighting (where it is not strong enough to create distinctive shadows or so bright that detail is stripped away) and composition (when the arrangement of elements fails to entice the eye into fully exploring the image).

A compositional device that can be applied to most landscapes is that of the layered view. The simplest way of defining these layers is by breaking space down into foreground, middle ground and distance. Applied a bit more thoughtfully, the idea can be used to assign each element to its own layer and then judge how they relate to both camera position and height. Once layers can be perceived, the overlaps and spacing between them can …

Read this and many more articles in High Definition inside Issue 59 of Landscape Photography Magazine.

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About Author

Fran Halsall

Fran Halsall has worked as a professional photographer and writer for nearly 7 years, taking as her inspiration the wild landscapes, diverse geology and different habitats of the British Isles.


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      Hi Alexander,

      No it is not using the hyperfocal distance technique, which I rarely bother with on wide angle subjects unless the nearest element is really close to the lens.

      Instead I use the much quicker method of focussing just beyond the nearest element and then checking whether my guesswork is correct by using the DOF preview to check, and then adjusting if necessary. This works better for me, particularly if the light conditions are changing fast and there are only a few seconds to get the shot.

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