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.
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.
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?
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!