Using Rocks as Foreground Elements

During a recent visit to the Saanich Peninsula in British Columbia I had the opportunity to do some landscape photography along the shoreline, using rocks as foreground elements.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-160

What will often catch my eye is a series of rocks that form a leading line starting in one corner of an image, leading the viewer’s eye into the photograph, as illustrated in the above capture.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-800

Using rocks as a bottom bar to create a feeling of intimacy with the scene is another technique that can be quite effective. Shooting these types of images up close while using a wide angle focal length can help create the perspective of ‘being in the image’ for a viewer.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-160

Although much harder to find, a rock formation like the one in the image above that serves as both a bottom bar and a leading line, can help direct the viewer’s eye to a subject element in a photograph.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400

Looking for ‘paths of pebbles’ in between larger rocks can serve as a subtle leading line. Incorporating some driftwood in the corner of an image can also help direct the reader’s eye into the photograph and accentuate the feeling of depth.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160

Sometimes a large, flat expanse of rock can help create a feeling of vastness or being alone. If the rocks have some splashes of colour created by moss, lichen or kelp they can add some interest to a photograph.

Using rocks as foreground elements in your compositions can help reinforce the rugged, natural beauty in the scene you are capturing.

Technical Note:
All images were captured hand-held in available light using a Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens. All photographs in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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4 thoughts on “Using Rocks as Foreground Elements”

  1. Beautifully shot. This is where I miss … The leading lines concept comes out of experience…Got to learn that…..

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