There are two key areas that photographers find difficult with landscape photography. One is composition, the other is exposure. This article considers composition and offers some top tips for improving technique.
Check The Foreground Contains Interest
One of the classic mistakes in landscape photography is lack of interest in the foreground. A bare space of grass, path or or bare earth doesn’t attract the viewer. Using an object in the foreground such as a rock, some flowers, a small path leading the eye into the picture can greatly improve the composition of an image and draw the viewer in to the picture. Ensure that the foreground object is free of unwelcome distractions such as several dead flowers, or ugly blemishes such as large blobs of bird guano!
Check The Edges Of The Image
Consider what is framing the edge of the image – are any trees or rocks cut in half, are there any awkward leaves, branches or parts of islands intruding into the edge of the image? Do the hills in the background have pleasing ends at the edges of the image? Often changing the zoom slightly, or just moving a fraction to the right or left can change this and make a much more pleasing composition.
Rule of Thirds
This is a simple “rule of thumb” to aid photographers who are learning not to place the subject bang in the centre of their images. Often overused, especially by judges of camera club competitions, it doesn’t suit every image, but can be helpful to remind photographers looking to move away from centred images.
The rule states that if you divide the image into thirds horizontally and vertically, and draw imaginary lines down those thirds, the best place for the subject is on any of the four points where these lines intersect. This usually does not work for images with strong symmetrical reflections, but can be very helpful where there is a single main subject in the image (it is often far more successful in people photography than pure landscape photography).
Graphic Lines Make Good Abstracts
Look for strong natural lines in the landscape – whether this is a line of trees on the horizon, lines in rocks, drystone walls at field boundaries, or an incoming wave on the shoreline. These can make fantastic abstract images in their own right, or can add interest to the image as part of the whole.
Composition skills are an essential part of successful landscape photography. Composition can be improved by ensuring the foreground contains interest, that the edges of the image are “clean” with nothing unwanted intruding into the image, not trying to centre an image unnecessarily and using strong natural graphical lines.