Many of us are interested in photography and love to take pictures of beautiful scenery. A landscape shot refers to a wide view of the scenery rather than a close-up or action shot. While there can be people and animals in a landscape photo, they are generally focused more on more on scenery such as sunsets or mountain ranges. Once in a while, an animal or object in the scene may be used for composition or as a means of displaying scale and perspective. However, more often than not, it is just a view of the outdoors. If you love taking photos of the natural world, you will enjoy and benefit from these tips on how to Photograph Landscapes.
Some professionals may argue that pictures of the sea coast or the ocean, or pictures of man-made structures are not ‘land’-scapes. A picture of the coast would be a seascape while that of a city would rightfully be called a cityscape. However, technically any picture “dominated” by terrain or natural land is therefore a landscape.
There are three kinds of landscapes, representation, impressionistic and abstract.
Representational – This style is the most realistic of the three. There is no artificial manipulation or artifice added to the landscape. It is basically, a ‘what you see is what you get the picture’. It is a true snapshot of what you see.
Impressionistic – In this style the photographer uses techniques that play up the vague or elusive qualities of the scene. This kind of landscape retains the quality of what makes a landscape while at the same time giving an impression rather than a clear tone or representation.
Abstract – The photographer uses the elements of the landscape as components to be manipulated to produce a greater effect. Components are juxtaposed and moved to create a design rather than a real picture of what is represented.
Here are some tips on how to photograph landscapes that may enable you to capture better pictures.
1. Foreground – Focusing on an object in the foreground for framing purposes increases the drama of the shot. Also, frame the shot with a center of interest to capture the eye of the viewer.
2. Move the Center – Moving the center of interest off to one side also heightens the interest of the shot.
3. Scale – Drawing attention to the size of the subject is sometimes important to the understanding of the scene. This can be done by adding people or a small object that would normally be in the scene to frame around giving the added dimension of scale.
4. Lighting – Lighting will make or break any photograph. Pay very careful attention to the light source, shadows, clarity, and diffusion. This is the number one frame of reference for all photography, included within landscape photography tips.
5. Tripod – Use a tripod to ensure sharpness in capturing the scene, especially in low-light situations. Camera movement or shake will not add to the picture and may do irreparable harm.
6. Composition is so Important – Look at your composition. Make sure there is nothing in the picture or viewfinder that you don’t want such as overhead electrical wires or errant branches from closer trees that might obscure the view and ruin the picture. Watch out for unneeded objects in the foreground. It may be necessary to move them out of your way or barring that, if you can’t move them, then move the camera.
7. Weather – Don’t let the weather keep you from shooting. Sometimes the weather is just the dramatic effect that you are looking for. Rain has a way of adding softness and peacefulness to a scene, take advantage of it. Wind or ripples in water also add dramatic elements for a stronger photograph.
8. Maximize Depth of Field – This is done by choosing a small aperture setting in over to deepen the focus of the picture. Bear in mind that a smaller aperture also means there is less light coming through, forcing other adjustments to compensate.
9. Lines – Find a way to lead the viewer’s eyes into the picture. In other words, the lines that lead from the foreground to the background. Image depth and scale can make this happen.
10. Horizon Consideration – An old rule in photography is to consider the horizon on two fronts… is it straight and where is it compositional-wise? A composition line falls in one of three areas of the picture rather than down the center, the upper middle, or the lower third. Trying to work in these areas rather than always locating the main points of interest in the center of the frame.
Finally, always be on the lookout for a different viewpoint. Changing the point of view adds drama to an uninteresting or routine scene. Before snapping the shot, look through the viewer and move it right, then left, then up and down. Zoom in and then zoom out. Change the viewpoint. Only then after looking at as many possibilities as you can, do you take the picture.
I hope you have found these tips on how to photograph landscapes useful.
Jonnie Blaylock is an amateur photographer who helps new photographers learn the essentials with his Landscape Photography Tips and more.