how to photograph fences in an interesting way

I was looking for scenic views, but came up with "how to photograph fences" as a theme for a post on this website. In photography, it usually comes out to composition, perspective, and lighting. Have you ever set out to photograph a certain subject and come away with something completely different? That's what happened to me on one particular trip.

Gettysbur Battlefiled fense photo with diagonals in the composition1. I liked the diagonals in this photo of the battlefield fences.

A funny thing happened during a recent photo shoot at Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania. My original intent was to photograph the interesting scenes at this historical landmark, capture a slice of our country's history, and come away with a few interesting images to share with my readers.

I purposely go on photo excursions several times each year, just to get away from business, take photographs just for fun, and share my thoughts and some of the images on this digital photography blog.

During this particular trip I had other obligations so my opportunities for photography were a bit limited. This first photograph of this battlefield fence, taken on my first day visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park, wasn't one of my favorites, but I included it in this blog to make a point about composition.

chance to practice your compositional technique

Fences are great subjects to use to play around with the  compositional elements with your frame.

In this first example liked the diagonals contrasting with the parallel lines and tried to capture the fence in an interesting way. Looking back I wish stood on top of my van so that the top of the fence would not be at the same level as the horizon.

The clouds were nice, the fence had some interesting textures, and I liked the angles.  I used the rule of thirds to place the horizon and I used a diagonal line at the bottom right corner to lead the viewer into the photograph.

The lighting during the middle of the day is sometimes disappointing and often not my favorite time for photography. I returned to the battlefield before sunrise the next morning to take advantage of what I call "sweet light." 

Gettysburg Battlefield Fence2. This photos was all about textures brought out by the soft morning light.

I liked the soft morning light, the textures, and the symmetry of this fence, with the fallen top rail on the far right and the red barn on the left, breaking up the symmetry just enough.

Remember I am definitely a camera geek and I get a kick out of certain visuals that present themselves to me.  I've always been intrigued by repetition in photographs ever since I was a young photographer. The freshly painted white fence really jumped out at me, and I got this, my favorite fence image, early that second morning. 

Two rules of composition that often work well with photographing fences are diagonal lines and the rule of thirds

Gettysburg white wooden fence3. Freshly painted, my favorite fence photo of the day.
Feel free to share this photo with others.

3 tips on how to photograph fences in an interesting way

Follow these 3 simple tips and you'll be sure to capture some visually interesting images when you venture out and look for interesting fences to photograph.

  1. Keep it simple.  Look for uncluttered backgrounds so that your attention is kept on the interesting aspects of the fence.
  2. Time it right. You get dramatic differences in what characteristics come forth based on the time of day, direction and quality of the lighting.
  3. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to compositional elements like lines, balance, and perspective.

Fence photography ideas

The following images of fences weren't taken on the Gettysburg trip, but I've added them to give you some more ideas about fence photography. Fences can be used as very powerful tools to visually direct the photographs viewer into an image directly to the main subject. Study this image below for a second.

fences and benches"Boardwalk Fences and Benches"

It's a strong composition and tells a story in an interesting location. Converting the original color image into a black and white simplifies the image and makes the leading lines into the photo even more prominent.

Fences also make great props for portraits,  whether they're used as part of the subject or as a nice background.

boy child fence portraitFense Photo by HARSH KUSHWAHA from Pexels

When you use a fence as a big part of the composition, particularly when it's between your subject and your camera, it has an emotional impact as well as the normal compositional impact on your photograph.

final thoughts

Keep an open mind when you're setting out to capture a specific subject. You may capture intriguing images of a subject you weren't planning on photographing. 

The Gettysburg battlefield is a beautiful area of rolling hills with significant historical importance but nothing struck me as an interesting photography subject except the fences and the cannons.

I know this is a subject for camera geeks like me and you, but it's so much fun to be involved in photography now. ! certainly wasn't looking to post about how to photograph fences, but sometimes it's okay to just go out and shoot whatever you see once you arrive at your destination. 

Have a blast. Keep shooting.

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

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