Landscape Photography

Pictures in which the main subject is water, land sunset, snow, etc are all classified as landscapes. In these shots, composition is arranged in large masses, a river winding from one end of the picture to the other, several houses nestled in the hills of a Vermont village, a range of mountain tops, or a line of trees, are all typical of landscapes.

What makes an interesting landscape photos? There should be a variation in shadow and light, and also variation in composition. A curved river in a picture is usually more exciting than a straight river, but often nicely formed trees over a serene, straight-flowing river will also make a fine pictures. A contrast between the light and dark tones of the landscape will make a better picture than one in which all objects seem to appear in the same tones of gray.

Plan your composition

When you plan your composition, watch your overall outline. Clouds, for example, form all kinds of shapes. Land, water and snow subjects also lend themselves to symbolizing emotions. Mountain peaks and tall trees seem to suggest grandeur, stateliness, dignity. Meadows, glades, brooks symbolize quietness, peacefulness and intimacy. Swamps, jungles and overgrowth often lend a feeling of confusion, mystery and fear.


Waterfalls present freshness, force, eternity. In the desert you find vastness, emptiness, bleakness. A village scene is friendly, sturdy, pleasant. A rushing river or churning ocean suggest strength and action.

When a picture can evoke one or more of these attitudes, this is something extra beyond the concrete composition and rendering of a landscape, you have produced an above average photograph, a photograph that people will want to see and that will be even saleable for publication. Nature offers limitless ideas, images, symbols and patterns to photograph. There is a surprising amount of order and design in nature. All we have to do is see it, for example vein in leaves, ferns, branches, trees, tree bark, flowers, spider webs, sea shells, grass, etc.

Take light from all directions and take note on its quality

In photographing a landscape (or any other subjects) don't confine yourself to having the light come only from behind you. Always take note of the direction of light. As a matter of fact, it is generally better when it comes from either left or right. In this way you can achieve modeling and a roundness of forms you would otherwise miss. half of your subject is then light, and gradually the other half assumes a darker tone, which gives it distinctive form.

If the sun is behind the camera everything appears bright, but without contrast and resulted the picture to look flat. If the light is behind the subject, the subject will then appear as a silhouette or near silhouette.
Notice how hard and brittle sunlight appears during the winter. Then observe, during the summer months, the sun's partly softness in the morning, its fullness and hardness around noon, its soft golden appearance in late afternoon and early evening. These are all changes in the "quality" of the light.

The quality of light also changes from day to day and hour to hour, as the sun and clouds move. At times you can even see how the changing quality of lght alters the mood of a picture from one minute to the next. This is particularly dramatic when a sunny landscape changes with the approach of black storm clouds.

The best hours for outdoor shooting

Generally the best time for taking photographs are early morning of late afternoon hours are the most favorable times for shooting landscapes. During these hours, the slanting light produces long shadows and emphasizes texture. Filters can be used to pick up clouds or to cut out haze and glare from snow scenes. A yellow filter should be used to correct blue skies or blue water; otherwise they will have little tone. Filters are not necessary with overcast skies.
Water, sand and snow reflect more light than grass, so check your light reading carefully. Be sure the sun is low and preferably at the side, so you will get longer shadows and so that the details such as pebbles, snow flakes or water foam will be clear and sharp.

More about Camera Shooting Techniques

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