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Making landscape photography work for you

Whether you’re old school or new school these hints should help you create something special.

There are many factors that go towards creating the perfect landscape shot and believe it or not it’s not all about technique or equipment like special lenses and filters. You can get fantastic results from landscape images with even the most basic of analog cameras. There are a couple of things that we feel make a big difference to getting that really strong and captivating landscape image.

"den bos" by Erven2010


Firstly, get your reccee right. Get out there and search. This usually means lots of walking and checking out locations that can often be difficult to get to. Think about weather conditions too. A beach on a lovely sunny day is nice, we’ve all seen this kind of image in the holiday brochures. Shoot it during a tropical storm with looming dark clouds overhead and driving rain and suddenly the picture is more engaging. If you get the chance look at the shoot at different times of day to find out which light give you the image you want. There can be a huge difference between, early morning, mid day, evening and even nighttime.

Secondly, put two photographers with the same camera into the same location and guess what? You’ll end up with two sets of very different photographs. That’s because people see things differently. The second thing that makes all the difference is a good eye. Look carefully for the drama. There may be two contrasting elements located close to each other that are not obvious at first glance, but make a great shot on careful reflection. Now, we’re not say point and shoot doesn’t work well, but sometimes that amazing shot will come from suddenly seeing some element in a huge landscape that creates drama, tension, humour, contrast...whatever. But using your creativity and eye in harmony makes interesting stuff happen.

If you can get the above two things right then you’re on your way to getting something special. However, there are other things you can try that might just help. We’ve broken these next tips into two distinct approaches for you. Neither approach is any better than the other, they’re just different and both will help you create great landscape photography.

'Late for dinner' by Bruce Kerridge


The formal, disciplined and more technical approach.

Pay attention to the rule of thirds, i.e try breaking the image down into a nine square grid, then place any lines in the picture, or focal points, along the lines of the grid. This helps create impressive looking composition. In painting this is often called using the ‘golden section’. Thin big sky or big sea.

Many landscape photographer prefer not to shoot during the day, just at dawn or dusk when the sun is lower in the sky and you get dramatic long shadows on the landscape. Just trying this approach can turn a relatively dull landscape into a much more dramatic one.

Depth of field.
Try combining a slow shutter speed with a small aperture to make your photograph crisp and sharp all over. To do this you’ll need to invest in tripod to hold the camera totally still while you capture the image. If you want sharp the slight movement of the camera will create a degree of blurring. If you can get hold of one improvise. Steady the camera onto something solid and make sure when you shoot you don’t move the camera.

Movement within the frame.
If you’re shooting a long exposure sometimes things moving within the frame of the shot can be a good thing. A bird flying across the skyline, the movement of water or someone walking across the shot can all work well sometimes, give it a try!

The informal approach.

Who says that a landscape shot has to be structured and technically competent? Not us for sure. Some of the most exceptional landscape images we’ve seen have been captured without any thought or conscious compotition at all. Here are a few things that can also create great results.

The running shot.
Go for maximum movement and randomness by taking the shot as you’re running. Shoot by holding out your arms so that you’re not consciously framing the shot. You’ll get great blurry, abstract images that can look really impressive. It’s all about experimentation.

Push your film beyond its limits.
Go for very fast or slow film and take it out of its comfort zone. If you experiment with this you’ll get a range of effect from very dark to grainy to bleached out results, all of which can look amazing.

The dramatic angle.
Try things like placing your camera on the ground, wedged in a tree, rested on a rock, after all, who says you have to hold the thing!!!

All in all there are lots of approaches you can take with landscape photography. Here we’ve just scratched the surface to give you some inspiration and ideas. Ultimately, get out there and start experimenting. It’s the only way you’ll discover how you really like to shoot. But don’t forget to share some of your best results with us!!!