How to Choose a Focal Point for Your Landscape Composition

When it comes to landscape photography we should consider exactly what we want the viewer to focus on and where. This sounds very…obvious. But how do we do so? There’s a certain amount of nuance that photographers don’t always take to heart when looking at a scene. So let’s explore some of these methods below so you can pick your favorite at any time.

Block Method Composition Works

Block Method Composition is a photography technique pioneered by Jim Harmer that is simple yet highly effective. Using Block Method Composition we want to ignore most of the details that tend to grab our attention like individual flowers and even individual mountains. Instead, we focus on overarching shapes that traverse the scene. In the photo below the image uses the foreground lake to form a single unit of a rough shape. The lake suggests a triangle near the point where the land and sky seem to meet. From there, the midground forest creates two obvious triangles. And the sky forms the third triangular unit in this visually striking composition.

Add Foreground Points of Interest

Landscape photography is often all about the expansive view, the big sky… In other words, we as photographers put tons of attention on the background of the photograph. The foreground is often used to add spaciousness to our panoramic view. But that’s not the only way to use the foreground in landscape images.

Imagine the above image without the kayak. While the scene is undeniably idyllic and beautiful, with the boat there’s a story being suggested by the human artifice. Are we at a vacation spot? Or maybe an indigenous fisherman is taking a break for a swim. The dynamic of the photograph is immediately altered by composing it with a foreground point of interestwithout taking away from the background landscape at all. Even the simple ripples of a stone cast into a pond gives the foreground a bit more play.

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