Inspiring Photography Tours & Workshops

Dunure Beach Sunrise, Ayrshire, Scotland

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No background necessary

One question I am being asked on a regular basis is “How do you compose a picture when you have no background?” This question usually comes from people who live on lowland locations with no hills or mountains to act as a backdrop.

In countries such as the Netherlands, I suggest to look for subjects that will act on their own as the main and only subject – windmills is one of the subjects that come to mind. However, how many pictures of windmills can you have?

My usual answer is to find a subject with strong foreground and mid ground and concentrate on them. The background (the sky) can be kept to its minimum if there is no much interest in it. If you are lucky enough to experience a glorious sunrise/sunset with stunning cloud formations, then the sky can occupy 1/3 of the frame and offer a splendid background.

This picture of Dunure beach in Ayrshire is one of those cases. There is no background and the sky is not strong enough, so I decided to allow it to occupy around 20% of the frame and concentrated on the foreground and mid ground instead.

One piece of advice I can offer in these cases is the height of the tripod. If you set it too low from the ground, then any spaces between different subjects will merge together, leaving no gaps for room to breath. In the case of this picture, I made sure there was enough space around the rocks to allow the water to be visible and create the walk in 3D effect. Try it next time you are out there.

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