With all due respect to the recent attempts by camera makers to add 3D to digital photography (people have been trying to perfect it since photography was invented, by the way), the best way to give your photos a sense of depth is to use one of several depth cues. Depth cues are just visual "tricks" (for lack of a better word) that enhance the illusion of distance in a picture. One of the most powerful of these is linear perspective--or using a receding line to draw the eye further into the scene and create that sensation of spatial expansion. A lot of things can be used to create that sense of perspective: a road going into the distance, a stream or river that leads off to a vanishing point or, in this case, a fence that seems to disappear over the rolling hills of an Iowa meadow. I exaggerated the effect to some degree by using a long lens to condense the hills a bit. You would think that doing this would ruin the sense of space--and sometimes it does--but in this case, by pushing the fence posts closer together, you see the repetition in a more exaggerated way. I tried shooting it with a wide-angle lens, but everything in the frame got so small that the drama seemed to evaporate--it pays to experiment with different lenses when a scene isn't coming out just the way you want it to.
Part of the reason that this type of illusion works is because the farther away that the fence posts get, the smaller they seem. In fact, size diminution (shrinking sizes) is another very powerful cue on its own. So next time you're photographing a landscape and you want it to seem "deep" in its two-dimensional form, try adding the illusion of 3D with a depth cue. I'll write about a few more of these in upcoming columns.
Photo Note: Shot with a Nikon D70 body and a 70-300mm Nikkor lens (at 240mm). Exposed at ISO 200 for 1/30 sec., at f/22.