How to Photograph Landscapes
To be able to express our own personality through photography and to introduce our own personal style in our pictures, there are a number of elements of design that we must consider. The most important are listed as follows:
- Liner Design,
- Tonal Values,
- Tonal Key,
- Effects of Colour,
- Visual Elements,
- Picture Format,
- Combination of Design Elements.
Pictures usually combine two or more design elements, in order to make interesting variety and contrasts. Seldom, can we combine all the design elements listed above into one picture, but in the most successful pictures, usually one element dominates thus taking attention away from the shortcomings of other elements.
Depending on the circumstances at the time, we may organise the arrangements of image components by:
- putting objects together to create the subject;
- selecting the part of the subject we include, and the parts we leave out of the picture;
- physically removing objects from the subject or moving them to other positions;
- adding other things to the subject.
We can also change the importance of image components by:
- changing our viewpoint, to alter the perspective in which the components are seen, and the locations in the image;
- controlling image sharpness by choice of lens, aperture, and focal length, and shutter speed;
- controlling tonal value by choice of exposure level, lighting and processing;
- controlling the angle of view by choice of focal length of lens;
- controlling image quality by the use of colour filters, diffusers and other optical devices.
Keeping in mind the comments mentioned above regarding the elements of design, consider the following photographic tips when photographing landscapes.
- Select from the scene those objects that attract attention and will be the subject.
- Consider the different pictures that could be made of the subject.
- Make the picture as simple as possible and easy for the observer to understand.
- Make the subject an obvious reason for the existence of the picture.
- Include only one subject or group of subjects.
- Choose a distance from which the subject fills the space of the picture.
- When several objects must be included, one object or feature of the subject should be the principle point of interest: make it appear as the most important thing in the picture.
- Cover eye -catching and unwanted objects in areas around the subject by something near the camera (such as a fence, gate, tree, bush, person, rocks, boulders and so on) so that they do not distract attention from the subject.
- Include no sky or as little as possible, unless it is an essential part of the subject: it is more useful to include more foreground.
- Select a viewpoint that gives an appropriate impression of the subject.
- Use an oblique angle of view to obtain a good illusion of depth distance and reality.
- Change the viewpoint, often only a few centimetres, to avoid things like trees and poles from 'growing out of peoples' heads, or to include something near to the camera to hide unwanted eye-catching features.
- Look for unusual and novel viewpoints.
- Use a high viewpoint to obtain separation of planes.
- Use a low viewpoint to make subjects seem more important and to reduce the importance of the background.
- Choose a viewpoint looking through doors, windows, arches, or between trees, cars, people, boats, and so on, to make an inner frame within the picture that concentrates attention on the subject.
- Keep the camera level to avoid slanting skylines and leaning buildings.
- Press the shutter release gently , to avoid jerking the camera and making a blurred image.
- Check the edges and corners of the viewfinder before making an exposure, to make sure unwanted objects are not included.
- If possible, carry a small tripod. It allows you to suggest the movement of water or vegetation through the use of blur and to prevent camera shake when using slow film in low light conditions.
- In general, pick slow or medium speed film for fine detail. Occasionally use fast film for more grainy, interpretative effects.
- When shooting in colour, it is usually best to choose soft lighting, rather than harsh sunlight.
- Try to become familiar with a location nearby so that you can photograph it at short notice when the conditions are just right.
- Do not shoot just from the obvious spots. Be prepared to explore for better viewpoints.
- Only take as much equipment as you can comfortably carry. Select a waterproof rucksack to enable the easy carrying of equipment and wear a good pair of boots because chances are that you will be doing a lot of walking.
- Select a 35mm or medium format SLR which has flexibility in exposure control together with a series of wide angle and telephoto lenses such as a 24-35mm which will allow you to cram in large areas of view, up to a 70-210mm zoom which will allow you to selective crop distant details.
- Include a skylight 1B, UV, polariser, warm-up, neutral density and a graduated grey filter.
- Always use a lenshood to stop stray light glaring off the front element of the lens and causing flare. Flare can also be caused by a dirty lens so always keep it spotless.
- Don't be afraid to include people in your composition because they can add scale to your pictures.
- Include interesting foreground details and where possible, use leading lines to lead viewers into the picture and increase the illusion of depth.
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