Manipulating Landscape Photography

Manipulating Landscape Photography

  • Familiarity dulls the senses, and landscape photography is no exception: it's hard to look objectively at a scene that greets you day after day. Manipulating the landscape makes people look afresh at a vista they pass by constantly without a second glance and offers the advantage of surprise.

  • Mixing genres of photography is a valuable way to exploit this surprise element. People like to be able to give pictures neat labels, and combining different types of imagery undermines this ability, introducing ambiguity - is it a portrait or a still-life or a landscape?

  • In making these types of pictures, the most important consideration is the relative scale of object and setting. Images such as these work best when landscape and object compete for the viewer's attention. The human figure is the most potent of all introduced objects, and therefore an element that needs to be handled with great care. The figure draws the eye, and can easily dominate the view, so that even a tiny figure on the horizon is a counterpoint for a towering landscape.

  • Manipulated pictures are by definition contrived in the broadest sense of the word. Yet to be successful, the images must not look conspicuously artificial or labored. Striking the right balance is largely a matter of experience, but even veteran photographers probably discard dozens of images for every one they use. So you should be prepared to shoot plenty of film, and to edit ruthlessly when you see the results.

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