Depth- Use the feeling of depth to express a mood or story

by Joe Standart

Joe’s Tip: Depth can be expressed as 3D depth which gives you a feeling of deep space or 2D depth which keeps everything on the surface and gives you a feeling of flatness.

Expressing Deep Depth

When you walk in the woods on a path, you are traveling on a visual line that draws you into another world. There is the joy in the beauty around you, the comfort of being surrounded by space, but also the wonder of what is in the distance. A feeling of 3D depth can add mystery and drama to your photos. Use that feeling to draw viewers into your photo and have them stay a while to share in your vision. Find landscape scenes that give a feeling of depth to tell a story or express a mood.

How do you create that feeling of entering a three-dimensional space on the 2D plane of a photo? Experiment with using these compositional elements to enhance that sense of depth. Try the same scene at different times of the day or season.

  1. Include a foreground element, a middle ground, and a background. Use overlapping shapes and contrast in size.
  2. Line–Look for lines in your view. They can lead you into, around, and out of the photo. Use lines to draw your viewer in. Take him/her for a walk on a path or a trip on a stream. Use shadows as lines to direct the eye.
  3. Color-Bright colors come forward; dull colors recede. Warm colors come forward; cool colors recede.
  4. Light and shadow–Shadows give a sense of depth to objects and can create direction lines.

Don’t forget what you learned about the use of light as an element in your photographs in the first challenge. Go back and look at Joe’s tips about light. Observe your favorite places as the seasons change from early spring to summer. Experiment. Have fun with your camera. Try out the different compositional elements to create depth and share your results with us.