This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
280. As to the advisability of including a figure or figures in any view, ask yourself the two questions: First, is the figure necessary to carry out the idea of the scene? Second, is the figure or the view the most important part of the composition?
281. If figures are to be introduced particular attention must be paid to the location which you give them, as the misplaced figure might spoil completely the general composition of the picture.
Size Of Figure. If figures are to be introduced in landscapes, they should be large enough to at least be distinguishable. There are times, however, when a figure may be in the extreme distance, and by contrasting with the background form a valuable unit in the composition.
Figures Out Of Harmony With The Scene. No figure or figures should be introduced into a view if there is any tendency towards their detracting from the principal object of importance. The main object of having figures in a landscape is to assist, not only in the composition, but also in the general interest of the view.
Crowding Figures In Foreground. If the figures are too near when photographing, and there is not sufficient space in the foreground of the resulting picture, too much attention will be called to the figures, thus detracting from the balance of the view.
Figures Too Large. Be very careful that your figures are not too large for the landscape and thus also ruin the landscape proper. Also, when photographing groups do not have them too closely packed together, or scattered too much. It is necessary that you use judgment in the placing of figures in all landscape work, bearing in mind that you are reproducing landscape scenes and not making portraits.
The Horizon Line. When a figure appears in the landscape the mistake is sometimes made in having the horizon too low, giving the figure the appearance of extreme height. This error is especially marked in hand camera work. The reverse fault, of the horizon being too high, seldom occurs, but when it does it will give the effect of looking up hill.
Composition Of Foreground. Of all the parts of a picture the foreground is the most important from the standpoint of composition. It has always received the greatest amount of attention from pictorial workers, while the careless user of the camera often meets with little success in properly rendering this important item.
288. First, because its importance has been disregarded, and second, because it is the most difficult to arrange and regulate in a satisfactory manner. It not only calls for an intimate knowledge of nature, but also an infinite amount of patience in its execution, both of which are difficult matters for the beginner.