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on Nov 15, 2012 in Landscape Photography

The Anchor Point




One of the challenges of landscape photography is creating visual depth in our photograph. When we have a wide sweeping vista, to communicate to the mind’s eye that it is sweeping, we have to trick it. This is because we are presenting the vista in a very one dimensional manner, computer monitor, iPad, printed page. This is a very flat medium for a very three dimensional scene. How do we trick the eye into seeing depth?

One of the easiest ways to do this is with an anchor point. The anchor point is an item in the foreground that is in focus that the eye can lock on to and then wonder out into the photograph. You have to be selective, just anything in the foreground doesn’t fill the bill.
A beer can in the foreground is not an anchor point. The foreground anchor point has to be of interest as well, part of the story yet not so interesting the eye doesn’t go into the frame.

In this series, you can see the scene as I saw it that evening. With the D4 / 18AF, I walked down to the shore at Mono Lake with the top scene being the first image. No anchor point, not real visual depth. The second photo has an anchor point but it’s too busy. The bottom photo is the best anchor point I could find at that moment. It’s a little too massive for me but it was the best option at the time. You can see though how with that element in the foreground we start to introduce visual depth in the photo. It helps create three planes, foreground, middle ground and background which brings depth to our otherwise one dimensional photo.