Controlling the Middle Distance in Photography

Controlling the Middle Distance in Photography

  • In landscape pictures dominated by the middle distance, details are close enough to the camera to be clearly visible, yet small enough for the image to lack clarity. The middle-distance puts the environment into context, so that the viewer sees broad landscape outlines without the scene appearing anonymous.

  • Pictures that highlight the middle distance are as much in the control of the photographer as those in which the background and foreground dominate, yet the photographer's intervention in these images is less immediately obvious. Constructing the composition around the middle distance provides an uninvolved view in which the scene is at a safe remove from the viewer, and perhaps sets the scene for close-up and long-shots that might follow in a sequence of images such as a slide show.

  • But emphasizing the middle distance is not without risks. The most significant of these is that the principal subject matter of the picture may not be immediately identifiable.

When composing the image,

  1. Make sure that you've identified the subject element that you consider to be the main subject.

  2. Use less important parts of the picture in a subsidiary role to channel attention towards the subject in the middle distance.

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