Hello Earth Art members! I have made my blog private and this is the first post exclusively for you guys. I will be doing regular blog posts in the future, on all things photography from tips and advice to general musings. If there is anything in specific you would like me to cover, please let me know! This first post will cover the all important aspect of photography: composition.
A great landscape photo is made up of a number of different parts - but none more important than a good composition. Until I find an eye catching composition I will rarely bother getting my camera out, regardless of the light, or conditions. A landscape photograph is like a lego set. If you arrange and build all the pieces correctly you’ll end up with an organised, structured set that works well and looks good. But if you put them together without thought the end result will be a bit of a mess that doesn't make much sense. Basically, composition is all about arranging the elements of a scene so that it looks appealing and keeps the attention of the viewer. Below are some tips for using composition to create a winning photo:
Add Foreground Elements of Interest
Although nature is often stunning, until you choose a point of interest that will focus your viewers attention it can sometimes be messy, random and not easily packed into a small rectangle screen. A well chosen point of interest will make people want to view your image longer and brings your own creativity to the image. Look for a flower, man-made item, water ripple, interesting tree, rock, or other interesting aspect that will draw people into the scene.
Keep it Simple
Often less is more. Instead of taking a photo that attempts to capture everything around you, sometimes you need to cut back and focus on colour or one key subject/theme. It will give your image more direction and will keep the viewers imagination searching for more. Use of ‘negative space’ is often just as important as the main subject.
While wide angle is often the preferred type of landscape photography by many - sometimes using a longer lens, will create depth and mood to a scene lacking direction. Distant mountain peaks that may get lost at 16mm can turn into monsters that with the right light and atmospheric conditions look incredible. Another scene that I like to shoot with a longer lens is fog/mist. I adore fog and I love the way it provides natural layers to an image. An object close to the camera may be relatively free of fog, but the further away you go, the more the object fades. I find using my 55mm or 70-200mm lens, removes the boring air close to the camera and draws the viewer in to the mystical scene ahead.
Lead Viewers in With Lines and Curves
The human eye naturally follows lines and curves. Place your subject at the end of a man made or naturally occurring line or curve to increase its impact. Viewers’ eyes often start at the bottom of the frame, so lines leading up into the image often make for a well composed photo.
Following all the rules can lead to a beautiful landscape image - But adding your own creativity to a picture can sometimes create a more interesting and memorable photograph. A few examples of getting creative in camera are: zooming your lens in or out with a long shutter speed, panning the camera during an exposure to blur all or part of the image or moving so you are able to get a different perspective that you haven't seen done before. Sometimes doing things a bit differently can spark some new passion if motivation has been a bit lacking.
Show a Sense of Scale
When it helps the photo, you can include a person, animal, or object to provide a sense of scale. It isn’t something I have done a great deal of, but it can produce stunning results and help give the viewer an idea of how small or wide the scene before you is.
Choose the right format
Although it’s natural to shoot landscapes with the camera held horizontally in the ‘landscape’ format, turning the camera on its side can totally transform the composition. By using the vertical format you can emphasise vertical
lines and height to add drama and excitement, or capture rivers and roads snaking away into the distance. Using a square crop in post processing is also a creative option and it works best when you have taken the image with a square crop in mind. Another option is shooting multiple images and stitching them together in Photoshop as one wide panoramic image.
Break the Rules
Sometimes the best landscape images are made when you consider the rules and then completely ignore them! Photography for me is about having fun and expressing myself creatively. If the rules are stopping you from doing that, then its ok to sometimes ditch them and go express yourself!