So, you have a great camera, expensive gears and an awful lot of enthusiasm to get that perfect landscape photograph? Rarely photographers can hold themselves from capturing an amazing landscape. It’s alluring, hypnotic and there is no escape. Yet, you capture that soulful landscape with all its intricacies, silence, and an enthralling beauty, only to realize later that the ethereal essence of the moment is not captured at all. The photo doesn’t look alive!
There is something about capturing the landscape. It poses an inherent challenge, daring you to capture the silence; yet the picture should be screaming with a story of its own. A dare to capture a shot so still that it creates a ripple in your mind. To capture a beauty so tranquil that it sets you bustling with blissful emotions.
Landscape photography is a perfect art and a science. So, how to get that perfect shot of a landscape?
Here are a few tips for great landscape photography:
The one-third rule:
Visualize the landscape as a grid of three rows and three columns making nine distinct squares. Although it would be most logical to keep the subject of interest in the centre, that’s exactly what not to do. Instead, position the subject at the intersection of grids. It will help balance the different elements of the landscape and define the focal point giving it a story of its own.
Just frame it:
While so many elements in the landscape are at your disposal to play around, one technique that definitely helps, is to use those elements to create a frame around the subject. The subject need not be framed from all the sides and partial framing will work just the same in creating a mesmerizing landscape photo.
The trees and shrubs in the bottom and sides are framing the other elements of the scene.
Nature doesn’t follow geometry as we know it. However, if you know how to look, one can see vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines defining the landscapes by giving it depth, scale, elements of interests and by creating various patterns that will lead the viewers’ eye to the beauty of the image. It’s how you put those to use in your composition that will decide if your photograph will breathe life or not.
Either lay it horizontally with clouds, sunset and sea layered one below the other or let the vertical lines lead the photo into a dreamy look to an ordinary road.
A subject of interest in the foreground
This is by far the most common tip that you will get as a landscape photographer. It catches the attention of the viewer who will then move on to explore other details of the landscape. It gives the viewer a place to rest their eyes instead of wandering around the image aimlessly. However, if you are having a foreground subject, it better tell a story about the landscape. Having it just because everybody told you so, will only give you an amazing photograph with no voice to speak for itself. Such pictures seldom cross the barriers to the viewers’ heart.
The focal point could be anything from a rock to a tree, a silhouette or a building. Strategically placing the subject using the one-third rule can give the needed twist to your image.
Depth of the field
Every picture will have a certain area in the front and back of the subject that will appear in the focus. In a shallow depth of field, the subject will be in focus while the background is blurred. With a deeper depth of field the background and foreground becomes more clear and sharper. An easy way to achieve the depth of field is to adjust the aperture size. Smaller the aperture, larger is the depth of field and vice versa.
However, smaller aperture means the camera sensors receive less light which might have to be compensated by increasing the ISO and/or lengthening the shutter speed.
Many photographers buy expensive gears but carry around shoddy tripods. A large aperture comes with untold opportunities of creative possibilities. However, when you compensate the aperture size with longer shutter speed, the slightest movement of camera can completely distort the image. Using a good sturdy tripod is always a good idea. It might be a trouble carrying it around, but that is a small price to pay for an otherworldly landscape photograph.
The golden hour
Golden hours – the time around dawn and dusk – are generally considered the best hours to shoot landscapes. The reason being, well, that it offers the “golden” light which makes the landscapes come alive. The images around the sunset and sunrise have an ethereal quality which directly touches the heart of the viewer.
The angle of light is another factor which can impact the landscape creating amusing patterns and dimensions.
A seasoned photographer would tell you that the best landscape shot would be the one that breaks all the rules. However, to break the rules it is always best to know the rules and what impact it has on the image. With the tips in hand, all you have to do now is pick your camera and lose yourself in the beauty of landscapes.