Jul 04 2007

The Lay of the Land: Landscape Photography

Published by at 9:08 am under Tips and Ideas

When you first begin to shoot landscapes, you may be disappointed when your prints do not look as fabulous as those done by professional photographers. Where have I gone wrong? Many beginning landscape photographers ask this question of themselves because, after all, you can’t move around the elements of the scenery to set up a perfect shot. So, without a little research on landscape photography, it may remain a mystery-chalk it up to luck, I suppose.

However, although it helps to have a breathtaking view to start with, landscape photography is an art just like setting up a portrait or still life is. The key is to use what you have available to make the landscape sing for you. First, remember the basics. Always think with a photographer’s mind. The scenery cannot move, but you can, so look for the perfect host to employ composition techniques such as the rule of thirds. Be conscious of where your horizon line falls, and look at how the elements of the frame work together to create diagonal lines. If the shot isn’t perfect, move on-there’s a lot of world out there to be photographed.

Also be conscious of the time and season. Night shots can be beautiful, but it is very disappointing when you want to shoot a sunset and you arrive just as the last rays disappear behind the mountains. If you are not familiar with the area, local weather stations can help you figure out what time the sun will be at the perfect height in the sky for the picture you want to take. The weather station can also be helpful in predicting storms and giving you information about the changing seasons. Gardeners familiar to the area are useful for this as well. They can tell you what weekend the autumn leaves will be the most brilliant or which month certain flowers bloom on the hillside.

Lastly, think about color and tone. Most people look for spectacular colors of nature to make their photograph beautiful. While this can sometimes be effective, don’t let bright colors distract you from the shapes and lines in a photograph. In fact, if they are too intense, try simplifying things but cutting out color completely-shoot in black and white.

When in nature, always be ready for the perfect snapshot. Animals and rays of sun might surprise you and be gone again before you can pull your camera from its case. Be prepared to make the most of your time on location be always having your film loaded and ready to go. Move around and experiment with angles and techniques. By doing this and remembering the basic rules of photography, you can begin getting shots that will mystify others-how do you find landscapes that are so magical?

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