Feature Photograph

This weeks feature photograph was taken in Pranburi which is near Hua Hin along the eastern coast of Thailand.

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Unlike Hua Hin Pranburi remains  largely unmolested by the big commercial monster which tends to turn charming areas of Thailand into westernized tourist areas.  Kilometers of scenic beaches, local farms, and even a small fishing village greet the casual visitor and its here that I’ve found a virtual treasure chest of photographic opportunities hidden in the klongs inland from the sea.  It’s here where they moor wonderfully old and colorful fishing boats.  The klongs, background, and the boats themselves combine to create the sort of scene which yells ‘traditional Thailand’ and almost makes you forget the “progress” going on not even 20 kilometers distant in Hua Hin.

This weeks feature photograph is significant because it provides the three elements of a landscape which in my opinion make the image much more interesting than your standard landscape.  The elements are a foreground, mid-ground, and background.  Most landscapes include only a background and for the most part they really don’t catch your eye or hold your interest.  A worthwhile goal when shooting a landscape is to have at least a foreground and a background, something in the very front of the image which exhibits color and/or detail, and an interesting background of a scene. 

During a workshop this week with an experienced photographer our goal was to examine some techniques useful for landscapes.  First we had to define what made a landscape successful, which to me means both interesting and easy on the eye.  What most photographers do is only include the sea, mountains, rice fields, or something scenic in the background.  This is nice, but very common and having shot many of this type myself I can attest to their powers to put viewers to sleep.  A ‘successful’ landscape includes many elements in the composition, and should include at least two of these three elements:  Foreground, mid-ground, and background.

We were in Ayutthaya and not Pranburi, but the techniques are the same for determining the composition.  Take your time and really look at the scene, envision as many different ways to photograph the scene with each way providing a different perspective, and when composing your choices try to include a foreground, mid-ground, and background.

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In the feature photograph we have the tree line and sky as the background, the fishing boats as the mid-ground, and it might be pushing the technique a bit but the boats reflections combine to create a foreground.  In the picture above (taken as an instructional sample) we have 4-5 planes of subject, three separate water bodies spanning the image along with even more stands of trees, all nicely separated to give impact and interest while creating a three dimensional image vs. the standard less interesting two dimensional landscape.

In future columns I’ll be covering landscapes in some detail, from the use of ultra-wide angle lenses and how you use them to create a very strong foreground in addition to the background, how you would use standard focal length kit lenses for effective landscapes, and the use of long telephotos and landscapes.  This is a very in-depth subject, so I expect this to be at least 2-3 parts over as many weeks.