You are on a hiking trip on an exotic mountainous location with your mates. “Oh, nature is surely a great artist,” you think in your head. This thought compels you to pull out your camera and snap a few pictures. You hike, have lots of fun, and live some of the most memorable days of your life. The trip ends, and you get back home.
You look at the pictures, and what you see are flat, boring images that are far from doing justice to the beautiful place where you have just come from. You ask yourself, why?
Do not worry; You are not alone. Landscape photography is not just taking out your camera, aiming at the landscape in front of you and start clicking. It is complex and a technical niche of photography. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned photographer, there is so much to learn in this category.
This article goes through some of the most essential and useful tips that you can incorporate in your landscape photography, so that next time you take photos, they do not turn out to be flat and boring images.
When it comes to photography, location matters, and it matters even more; when it comes to landscape photography. If you are going to a great location, spend some time researching on the internet.
Find out about the good viewpoints in that area and what areas are best to photograph at what time of the day. Prior planning matters equally or even more than when you photograph the place; trust me, it will pay you a lot more than you think.
Flowing Streams of Water
Flowing streams of water can be a great landscape photography location; make water the main subject of your photo and capture the character of it. Fast-moving water has a different feel than a slow-moving stream. You can also use water as a mirror and create a reflecting effect with the water.
This the most common among photographers and the most appealing too. But it is not that easy. You must look for the best time of the day to capture a great mirror effect.
This one is the most common, and you must have seen it too. In my opinion, it is the easiest to photograph as compared to other landscape locations. But it does not mean that you do not need any landscape photography knowledge to obtain beautiful images of sea costs.
You need to keep in mind the time of the day and the objects in the frame for a more appealing look. A spray of water on the rocks creates a dramatic effect, and a calm sea gives out a soothing effect. You can use palm trees as a frame to take it up a notch.
Mountains are rugged beauty, but how do you capture its ruggedness in its true sense? The most crucial tip when photographing mountains would be to pay attention to the lighting. It is essential because the light is often overlooked when it comes to mountains. You need the right amount of lighting at specific areas to highlight or tone them down to capture the real character of a mountain.
Another great tip when photographing mountain ranges is to look for leading lines. Leading lines are great to show depth in the photo, and naturally, our eyes are drawn along the leading lines.
Deserts and Plains
In my opinion, deserts and wide-open plains are among the hardest to photograph, you don’t have a focus point or a subject in your image, and you need it for your viewers, so their eyes don’t just wander aimlessly at the vast open plain in your image. But it can also play on your side if you need to capture the vastness of the desert. The best time of the day would be the afternoon when the sun is at its peak.
Deserts are a great option when it comes to picture a sky full of stars, there is no humidity or pollution in the atmosphere to block your view, and the stars appear more bright. You just need the right exposure settings of your camera to take the unusually bright glittery sky.
Use a Wide-angle Lens
Wide lenses are great when it comes to shooting in landscape locations as if wide-angle lenses are made for landscape. One of the characters that make an excellent landscape photo is the depth in your image, and wide-angle lenses give you the best depth by making the horizon in an image seem further away than it actually is.
When shooting at a telephoto lens, include some foreground interest, this would add character to the image and give your viewers something to look at.
When shooting a landscape, you tend to stand away from the subject. But when you are shooting with a wide-angle lens, it already makes the subject seem distant and smaller.
So, do not make this mistake by making the subject look too far; instead, move a bit closer and create a better image. Overdoing this will also create irregularity, so make sure to add some good negative space in the picture.
Composition matters a lot when it comes to landscape photography; a well-composed photo has all the right elements at the right place. It looks visually symmetrical and appealing to the human eye.
It is the deciding character that makes or breaks your photo. Here are some guidelines and rules of composition that if you follow, it will take your landscape photography game to the next level.
Rule of Thirds
This is the most basic yet classic rule to follow. If you have ever heard about composition, you must have heard of ‘Rule of Thirds.’ As a beginner photographer, you may tend to keep your subject in the center, but if you do that, you will notice that all your photos look boring.
In Rule of Thirds, you divide your frame into three equal parts, both vertically and horizontally, by drawing straight lines. This option is available as a ‘grid ‘in your camera. When taking a photo, place your subject on the intersection of these lines, and it will result in more dynamic images.
Center your Subject
Using the rule of thirds is excellent, but like any other art form, you cannot just stick to one rule for all your images. Sometimes placing your subject in the center can have more impact on the viewer.
You can apply this rule when there are no distractions in the background of your subject, or to create a balance between right and left or top and bottom sides of your frame. It can create a dramatic effect, and the image that comes out will visually tell a story to the viewers.
Using leading lines is the most powerful technique you can use. Human eyes are unconsciously drawn towards lines in an image. As the name suggests, leading lines mean that there will be lines in your frame that converge to a single point or your subject.
It can be roads, walls, rail tracks, flowers, etc., use these leading lines intelligently to draw your viewer’s attention to your subject and not away from it. These lines can be straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial, etc., and can be used efficiently to spice up your images.
Look for Symmetry
You already know what symmetry means, create balance in your photos. Naturally, the human eye loves symmetry, be it in photography or any other form of art. The most common way to do this would be to divide the scene into halves of left and right or top and bottom. Look for patterns in your frame and place them in a balanced way in your image, and you are good to go.
Bonus Tip: The guidelines I have given are just rules that you should follow. However, keep in mind that there are no limits to creativity; there are times when you should break out of traditional mold and experiment. Take photos from different angles, defy the rule of thirds, place your subject at a completely unusual place and practice. Have fun, and soon composition will come naturally to you!
Essential Equipment for Landscape Photography
Some people say that equipment does not matter, you just need to be good with the camera, but we cannot ignore the fact that equipment can play a massive role in taking your photography game to the next level.
If you cannot afford expensive gear, the most important tool that you can buy and is also cheap is a good “tripod.” This is a piece of must-have equipment and the quickest way to improve your landscape photography. Buy a tripod, and you will thank yourself.
The other essential thing that you can buy as a landscape photographer is Natural Density, Cokin, and Polarizing filters. You do not always have the perfect lighting for a scene, so what do you do then? Filters are great for manipulating the available light. For example, if you are taking a shot that needs a bright sky, or you are shooting a photo with a water body to create that perfect mirror effect, but there is too much light which is making unwanted reflections, filters come in handy and minimize the reflections.
Note: The equipment I have talked about is most essential when it comes to landscape photography. But it is in no way limited to it, there is always some better gear that you can buy to increase the quality of the images you take.
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I started the road of photography, repairing some film cameras. But soon I've realised that I need some knowledge on how the photos are formed inside the camera. This road is tougher than I thought, but life is always a learning experience, and I am hoping that you could join me in this wonderful world of photography.
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