April 26, 2016

Landscape Composition

Everyday, all around us, there are countless magical moments from nature & our surroundings, that our cameras can capture. I really believe landscape photography has the most universal appeal – whether viewed in the pages of a magazine or hanging as art on our own walls, we can all find ourselves relating to the emotional & visual beauty encapsulated in breathtaking landscapes.

There are plenty of boxes to tick in order to photograph a truly epic piece of landscape photography. The type of camera body, the selection of lenses you should have to hand, ideal focal lengths, the perfect aperture to use, filters, tripod or hand-held, and the list goes on…

However, I know from my own experience that I need to always remind myself about the real fundamentals of landscape photography. So, no matter what type of camera you’re out and about with, be it a dSLR, a bridge, a point & shoot or even simply your mobile phone camera, we can all practice landscape photography anywhere and everywhere with a couple of easy basics.

First off, let’s deal with Composition


Photo copyright, Henrik Spranz

A good composition іѕ the starting point & most important aspect оf landscape pictures.

  • How will I set the view?
  • How will I place each aspect оf the scene? In а particular position оr аn angle?
  • What elements wіll bе making my picture?
  • Any adjustments that need to be made?

I’ve actually set myself a photo challenge recently, where I can only leave the house with 1 lens attached to my camera, and that lens HAS to be a prime lens. No zooming, no cheating the macro, no multiple shots at different focal lengths. And it’s been a great challenge! I’ve forced myself to have to really consider the composition of each shot. Sure, I can crop and tweak in post production later, but actually, it’s really helped me:

  1. I’m properly looking at the scene in front of me and deciding what elements to place in shot
  2. I’m shooting faaaar less photos, because I’m concentrating on each one so much more
  3. I have to walk/crouch/lay down to get the angle and framing I need (a bit of exercise for the old limbs!)
  4. And it’s helped me to be a more patient photographer, because I take my time and don’t just snap any old picture for the sake of it!

The magic of shapes & lines is a very quick trick to capture a breathtaking visual, as is using the “Rule of Thirds” (check out this explanation, if you’d like to know more). Lines, angles, shapes and curves can all give a lot of depth and scale to the image, whilst letting the audience travel into the scene. Even if the landscape ahead of you looks bland on first sight, you can refresh this look by adding any object that creates motion – for example, a flock of birds, a moving cluster of clouds or a delicate butterfly darting away. And if you’re shooting a lake or the ocean, use the power of reflections to add movement and texture to the photograph.

Keith Wall-P02_harkers-island-1024x680

Photo copyright, Keith Wall


Photo copyright, Amar Ramesh

Do you often just head out with one prime lens, or lock your digital camera at a fixed focal length? If you don’t, certainly try it. It might seem basic, but perhaps, like me, you’ll get a much-needed brain and composition ‘reset’ and look at scenes in a fresh way again! Feel free to tell me any composition experiments you’ve tried, would love to hear 🙂