One of the toughest visual concepts to communicate in a landscape photograph is depth: the sensation that you’re looking at distance when, in fact, all you’re really looking at is a flat sheet of paper.
The Importance of Depth Cues
Photographs, of course, have only height and width; they have no real depth — so you have to make an extra effort to create that feeling of space and distance. Photographers (and painters) use a series of “depth cues” or optical tricks to create the illusion of depth on a flat sheet of paper.
Perhaps the simplest depth-illusion cue to exploit is linear perspective — or using lines to lead the eye to a distant spot to enhance the feeling of space. There are lots of readily available linear cues in outdoor scenes, including roads, railroad tracks, tree lines, fences, etc. and often you can use them in combination to strengthen the illusion.
In this shot, for example, I’ve used the road as the primary depth cue, but I’ve used the rolling lines of fence on the left and the telephone poles on the right as secondary cues. The longer you stare into this image, the more you can feel the spaciousness of this rural Iowa scene (shot near Prairie City, Iowa).
More on Depth Cues
For more on depth cues, I encourage you to read the depth cues tutorial on my Web site. Remember, the more “real” you can make your landscapes, the more impact they’ll have and the more emotional connection your viewers will have to your work.
[tags]photography tips [/tags]