Using your surroundings
1. The right light – Landscape photography is as much about light as it is about composition or location. In the wrong light, even the most wonderful location can appear ordinary in a two-dimensional image. Be sure to use the warmth of early morning and late afternoon light to illuminate and enhance your landscapes. Harsh, overhead light is rarely complimentary to a scene.
2. Dynamic composition – Composition is a key element in successful landscape photography. Placing the elements artistically within the frame ensures that you’re doing more than just taking a snapshot of a beautiful place. Use compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, patterns and leading lines to ensure the image stands alone and is not solely reliant upon the beauty of the scene to draw in the viewer.
3. Filters – Filters like polarisers are essential for saturating colour and enhancing skies. Neutral density graduated filters can dramatise skies and also balance out radical differences of exposure between foreground and background. Warming filters enhance the natural warmth of morning and afternoon light.
4. Foreground interest – A foreground element is often vital to maintain interest in the landscape image. These elements can vary from rocks and plants to trees, even man-made objects.
5. Use a tripod – Because landscape photography usually requires smaller apertures, shutter speeds may often be too slow to handhold, so mounting your camera on a tripod becomes necessary. Also, using a tripod ensures the photographer takes time to accurately compose, employ filters, set exposures and select lenses.
6. Use a wide-angle lenses Wide-angle lenses dramatise a landscape by visually expanding the distance between elements in the frame. They’re particularly valuable when used in conjunction with foreground interest and they draw the viewer in the through the frame.
7. Use depth of field techniques Sharpness is absolutely necessary for most landscape photography. Most landscapes ensure sharpness by using small aperture settings like f16 or f22. In this way the eye is drawn through the scene because it naturally searches for sharp elements within the frame. Conversely, minimising depth of field can successfully draw the eye away from elements within the scene that are inescapable inclusions, yet not necessarily attractive.
8. Exposure – It’s often wise to disagree with the meter in your camera. By exposing for highlights or shadows in the frame, you can highlight certain elements in the scene that you want the viewer to see, while hiding others you want ignored. Also, these exposure methods ensure the image appears differently to how it’s seen by the human eye.
9. Telephoto lenses – Telephoto lenses not only bring things closer, they also compress the distance between elements in the frame. By doing so they create images that differ from the standard viewpoint of the human eye.
10. Perspective – The term landscape is often used to mean horizontal format. Landscaped photography often calls for this kind of perspective, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes a vertical or “portrait” format is very successful, especially when employing wide-angle lenses, shooting from lower viewpoints and including foreground interest.