Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #68: Layers

Basically, art should remain something that is complex, that has many layers, so there’s always a possibility to reconsider things and have a different perspective. It’s not just an advertisement with one single message that has some authority, political or not.~Camille Henrot

For my take on Amy’s intriguing challenge this week,  I decided to experiment with Layers when composing my shots.  I wanted to see if they could add complexity, depth and interest to a shot.

Before I went out shooting, I reviewed the basics in several articles, including Dylan Golby’s “Using Layers to Enhance Your Photography.  I put these concepts into practice when we took a day trip to Bath, a city in England famous for (no surprise here) its Roman baths and classical Georgian architecture.

Here are Dylan’s suggestions and my experiments from that day.  What do you think?   Do my shots incorporate his recommendations?

Using The Foreground, Middle Ground and Background

Dylan makes the important point that all photographers must understand the major limitation of photography:  it takes our 3-dimensional world and flattens it to 2 dimensions. However, he stresses that by using the foreground, middle ground, and background when composing a shot, we can overcome that limitation.

The foreground is the area closest to the photographer or the viewer.   In this shot of the Roman baths, the foreground is the reflection in the water. The middle ground is the central portion of the shot– the ground level of the building with the colonnade.  The background is the upper section on the roof in the distance filled with spectators and statues.

The shot you see is my 20th or 30th image of the baths.  My first shots of pool alone weren’t interesting at all.  Then I tried changing the angle of the shot by photographing the baths from the roof and then from the ground level. This shot at the lower level included the reflection in the water, which adds foreground interest, so I went with this one.

Adding People in the Layers To Add Interest

The second recommendation is to add people to the layers to increase interest and drama.  Here, at the lower level of the baths, I looked through one of the arches at another couple contemplating the scene.  This shot fills all 3 layers: the foreground (the arch and column), the middle ground (the water and another column) and the background (the wall, window, and the couple).  I could have added more depth to the shot by standing further back and including more of the water, but I opted to zoom in closer to the couple.

Looking Out at the Baths

Using Layers To Tell a Story

The third recommendation was to use layers to tell a story.  When we were walking around the ruins, the couple in the foreground caught my eye.  She was looking out at the water, while he was looking down at something–probably his camera.  There are also people in the middle ground looking out at the scene, taking photos and walking, which added to the story.  The reflections of the sky in the foreground and the columns in the middle ground add color, depth, and some light.

Looking Out at the Baths.

Combining Layers with Light

This last shot adds light to several of the layers:  the background (the sky), the middle ground (the Georgian buildings–some in full light and some in shadow) and the foreground (the grass with the tourists).  What do you think?  Does the light add drama and interest to the scene?

On the Green, Bath, UK

I enjoyed this experiment and plan on putting these ideas into practice as we travel more in England.  I like the added complexity of using layers, but I think it’s a delicate balance between “filling” a layer and “overfilling” a layer. The pros know how to strike a balance between the two.  Click on this link to see examples from a pro.

As always, I value your thoughts and suggestions.  Taking photographs is easy;  taking good ones is hard!

Be sure to stop by Amy’s site for her theme this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #68 where she features stunning shots of the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you join us, be sure to link your post to hers. (Links posted within the Reader are not working correctly.)  Use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. For instructions on how to join us, click here.

On Saturday, October 26th, it’s Tina’s turn to host #69, so we invite you to visit her site and take a look.

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I hope you will join us!

91 replies »

  1. Patti, one of my hide-aways during my years in the UK. Bath … what a fantastic city … the buildings, the bath, the afternoon tea … food, greenery, River Avon and all it’s history. It’s like walking in a Jane Austen novel. That last image … with the sky, The Royal Crescent, very dramatic … one of the most difficult buildings to capture. Thanks, Patti … for bringing me back. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Viveka. The Royal Crescent was hard to capture! Next time, we’ll have afternoon tea. Unfortunately, my husband isn’t a tea fan. :(. :(. I’m so delighted you enjoyed this and I can see why you liked to go there. A fabulous place.


      • NO problem …. I don’t drink tea … so he can get coffee instead or what ever he fancy. Yes, a truly FAB city … I hope you have visited Bristol, one of my favorite spots too, next door to Bath.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Patti, a fantastic city … young and vibrant and with loads of history … the first harbour the slave ships from Africa entered on their journey. Go in August and enjoy the yearly hot air ballon fiesta … a fantastic event and maybe I have a chance to meet up with you. Direct flights from Copenhagen.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Patti, you followed his suggestions perfectly, hence the wonderful shots. I saw the baths back in the mid-seventies when I went to Europe. Being a Georgette Heyer fan, they were definitely on my list. However, I haven’t been back since then, so I very much enjoyed these beautiful glimpses. I love the color in the second shot, but the first is my favorite. The light in the last shot really does add drama. Well done all around!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Janet. Many thanks! I’m so glad to hear that you can see the impact of his suggestions. It is a great city. We loved our day there. We’re figuring out our visit to the Cotswolds next. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very nice. I couldn’t agree more with ‘adding people for interest!’ Your narrative explaining layers is very educational. My favorite pic is #2 and exemplifies your point. I love the tones in this picture

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sandy! People definitely add interest, I think. I guess it’s human nature to wonder about other humans!! I’m so glad you like #2. I was surprised about the warm tones of the rock and the fact that the natural spring/pool was so warm. 45 deg. C!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful images Patti. And thank you for the tips, they’ve given me some ideas for my own photos. I love the way your reflections add a layer of interest and the moody sky, long shadows and group being photographed tell a nice story.


  5. Very educational and lovely “executed”, Patti! Just adore that second shot – colours, light, window, people…everything. All are great examples of what you are explaining to us – thank you for the tips! Now I learned something of how to think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Su. I learned a lot from the experts and was happy to share what I learned! Now, I’ve got to keep putting it into practice. Your encouraging words make me want to go out and shoot more! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooooh. Beautiful! What memories it brings back to me. I lived in Bath for a time, ‘91-‘92 previous century. On Alfred St. Spent many hours on the lawn of the Crescent. The Baths were not open those years, so I didn’t get to see them within. Loved it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How wonderful, John! I had no idea you lived there. I can imagine it was a great year for you. The place is fantastic. I loved it. I hope you get back there at some point to see the Roman baths. It’s hauntingly beautiful. I’m so glad this brought back great memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Pam! I shoot with a Fuji X-T2. I switched from the Canon 60D, which is heavier and didn’t have the “feel” I wanted. The Fuji lenses don’t compare to the Canon in the price range I wanted to spend. They are really superior.


  7. Wonderful demonstration in images and words about how layers can enhance a photo. I’ve always tried to use light to enhance layers, but now you’ve put words to my instinctual compositions. Very educational post, Patti. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Olga. Your thoughts made me very happy! I know what you mean by “instinct.” Sometimes it just looks right or feels right, but it’s good to know the reason why. Thanks again. 🙂


  8. Learning new ways to frame a shot – and incorporate layers – very helpful! Your photos showcase the examples so well. Yes, capturing the light in different ways can make all the difference. I am always chasing the light! Thinking of layers as 3 dimensional in an obviously 2 dimensional medium is actually quite intriguing – and sure not easy. But well worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh, this is a great educational post. I can see the lesson in each of your shot. Highly well done. I know that I’ll have all three -grounds on my mind much more from now on when composing a shot. Thanks for that, Patti! (Of course, me being me, I’m also quite interested in overfilling a layer. Sounds like just the thing!)

    Liked by 1 person

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