Composition is one of the keys to successful landscape photography. Exposure and quality of light are the other two main keys. Composition falls in the middle of these, in that the photographer has more control over it than over the quality of light, and less control over it than over the correct exposure. While sometimes the photographer doesn’t have full control over the composition (its not possible to uproot mountains and trees and place them in exactly the best position), often just moving a little can change things dramatically.
Move! (Change The Perspective) And Fill The Holes
If an area of the image is empty, the composition can often be improved by the photographer moving their feet! ie the photographer should look around see if there is an alternative shot – perhaps by moving left or right, crouching down to bring more foreground into view, or standing on a rock to gain extra height. If it is a portion of sky that is devoid of interest, this can sometimes be filled by branches or leaves from trees in the foreground. Or alternatively if there are reasonably fast-moving clouds in the sky, it can be worth waiting for them to move to the right position to fill the gap.
Balance The Image
This does not mean put the main subject into the centre of the frame! But rather consider the image as a whole and ensure all the parts of it combine to give a balance overall. Consider especially:
- how light and dark areas are balanced
- that a large object in the front of an image is balanced by sufficient in the background
- does any one object in the frame demand too much attention
- is there any area that has nothing of interest in it, that makes an empty “hole” in the image?
Capture The Essence Of The Landscape In the Photograph
Photographers should often aim for simplicity. An image that tries to say too much, or has too many different subjects in it will distract the viewer from the important parts. Where too may objects are all vying for the viewers attention, this dilutes the message, and it is hard for the viewer to know what the photograph is trying to communicate. Consider what the important essence of the landscape is, and make the most of that, rather than trying to get everything in sight into the image.
Remove The Rubbish
Photographers should look around the area that is to be photographed. Does it contain unsightly rubbish`like sweet wrappers and take-away containers, plastic tubs and bags? Small items in the foreground can easily be tidied away before the image is taken. This will avoid distracting the eye from the important view that the photographer wishes to capture.
Composition is key to successful landscape photography. Key factors to consider include balancing the image, checking the edges of the image, checking if a better composition can be found by physically moving to a different position, choosing what the essence of the image is and concentrating on just that, and clearing up any rubbish in the foreground before taking the image.