It’s hard to create the impression of depth in a two-dimensional image, but you can with some clever compositional tricks – and your pictures will come alive as a result.
A photographic print is a two-dimensional object, so one of the biggest challenges we face as photographers is giving these flat objects a three-dimensional quality. The good news is, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds and with some simple tools to call upon, you’ll soon be creating images with depth and purpose.
Divide Your Images into Three Areas
It doesn’t matter what you’re photographing, you can add depth by breaking the photographs down into three areas: front, middle, and back. Naturally, you’ll be placing your main subject into one of these areas, but that doesn’t mean you should discount the other two. As an example, let’s imagine you’re photographing a building in a city. Chances are it will be in the middle area – not too close to the camera, but not too far away either. To add depth, consider what you’re going to position nearer and further from the camera. You could, for example, have people or a car in the front, then more distant buildings at the back. Giving more thought to your compositions in this way instantly adds more depth and visual interest.
© Afton Almaraz
Use Leading Lines
One of the most powerful compositional tools, leading lines are great for adding depth to an image. Leading lines don’t have to be straight, so long as they serve the purpose of guiding the viewer’s eye into the frame and to the main subject. They can be something really obvious, such as a road, a fence, or a river, but they could be more subtle, such as shadows on the ground, the curve of a path, or some rocks on a sea shore. Leading lines add depth if they’re positioned in the foreground of a composition and if you use a wide-angle lens and a lower viewpoint, you can often enhance their effect even further.
© Seth K Hughes
Try Selective Focusing
Where you choose to focus can dramatically change the perceived depth of a shot, especially when combined with a wide aperture setting. Lenses such as the XF56mmF1.2 R and XF90mmF2 R LM WR are perfect for this when shooting portraits. For example, try to position your portrait subject behind something that is so close to the camera that when you focus on the subject, the object near the camera blurs. Use a wide aperture such as F1.4 or F2, and the background should blur as well, so you’ll get real depth in your shot. This technique doesn’t have to be the preserve of portraits, but if you do want to photograph people using this method, switch on Face/Eye Detection to ensure critical focus on the subject’s eyes or face. You can find this option in the AF/MF SETTING menu.
© Bobbi Lane
Reach New Highs (and Lows!)
One final option to consider is your viewpoint. This doesn’t have to mean scaling buildings or getting dirty knees, especially if your FUJIFILM camera has a flip-out screen. Flip it out and try holding the camera down low or above your head to get a new perspective that can help add depth to your shots. Naturally, if you have the means to get higher above your subject – by climbing steps, rocks, or taking an elevator to the top floor – this can also work really well and can add depth through the different perspective.
© Gareth Pon
Your Next Steps
- CHALLENGE Go for a walk on the streets with your camera and look for scenes that have a distinct foreground, middle ground, and background. Try to link these areas using the tips we’ve given you here, then post your five best pictures to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels