Composing with Partial Reveals

This article features a small selection of images that illustrate composing with partial reveals. All were captured handheld during a recent, brief visit to the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5,6, -1 step, 1/800, ISO-400

On occasion we may find ourselves in a location that has a lot of wide open spaces. This can make it difficult to create perspective and a feeling of depth in our images. A simple technique is to move in close to a bush or large, flowering plant and place it on one side of your composition. This is a quick way to create a partial reveal in an image.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 23 mm, efov 46 mm, f/5,6, -0.7 step, 1/800, ISO-320

Sometimes a large grouping of plants or hedges can be used as partial reveals. This can be effective when they form a discernible geometric shape.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/5,6, 1/800, ISO-1000

The trunks of large trees can also be used as partial reveals in compositions. Sometimes a leading line can be found that flows from the tree truck. This can give an image smooth eye flow.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5,6, -0.7 step, 1/800, ISO-800

Trees with gnarled bark or contorted limbs can not only serve as partial reveals, but also add some character to a photograph.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 16 mm, efov 32 mm, f/5,6, -0.7 step, 1/640, ISO-500

When composing photographs in and around buildings or historical ruins, the wall from one building can frequently be used as a partial reveal for the rest of the scene, or another structure.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5,6, 1/800, ISO-500

Even a semi-transparent object like a spiked plant can serve as a partial reveal if it is brought strongly into the foreground.  Finding various objects and elements to serve as partial reveals in our compositions can add interest, help to create perspective, and a feeling of depth.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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6 thoughts on “Composing with Partial Reveals”

  1. Good article and photos. While I have done some of what is recommended in this article, I never heard the term “partial reveal” before. And I can see the value of using this method to add depth to the composition. So, thanks for another educational article.

  2. Great examples! (And I’d likely move a bit to keep those close-up features out of the images, but I can see the error of my ways.)

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