Landscapes


Hints and tips
from Philip Grosset





I've also been asked for advice on photographing landscapes/scenery. Our aim should be to produce really personal pictures that communicate what we feel about a scene. Here's where composition, lighting, foreground framing, and human interest can make all the difference.




River showing intersection of thirds
The photo on the left is pleasant enough (reflections in water usually come out well), but we're left wondering exactly what we are meant to be looking at. Little thought has been given to the composition of the picture. Move closer in, as on the right, so that the main points of interest (the church and the boat) are at intersections of thirds, and a casual snapshot becomes a properly planned photograph. You can't compose every picture like this, but it's often particularly helpful with landscapes to arrange the main point of interest at one of these intersections, or at least along one of the lines shown on the right. Generally speaking, avoid having the main centre of interest (or the horizon) right in the middle of the picture.


These two pictures are of the same scene showing the Amalfi coast as seen from Ravello. The one on the left uses the viewpoint of all those publlcity photos advertising the region. The one on the right shows the difference that lighting can make.

The best landscape pictures are often taken in the early morning or late afternoon/evening when the sun is low. (You may have to be prepared to return to a location several times before you can get exactly the lighting you want!)

It's usually highly desirable to include some sort of foreground framing to add depth to the scene. Leaves and hedges can often be used for this, as in this photo of Houghton Mill in Cambridgeshire.
Landscapes can sometimes be improved by the inclusion of some human interest. Here the inclusion of the person with the dog in the bottom right adds to the picture's interest.
When photographing snow, the camera's built-in meter can easily be misled and underexpose. If this happens, try to take a reading from elsewhere in the picture.


Boy on peak Crag with no boy
Left: in this very effective photo by Lou Greenberg, the boy and the crag together provide foreground framing,and his inclusion also provides human interest and a helpful. indication of scale. Remove him (as on the right) and the picture loses much of its appeal.
Snow scene
Left: this photo by Christie Uhler is another example of a path leading us into the picture. The lighting (and hence the coloring) is just right too. A dramatic sky adds to the effect, just as a colorless sky would have detracted from it.
Right: another example of foreground framing and human interest adding to the picture's effect..



Edale
This is Edale in the English Peak district. The characteristic dry stone wall provides effective foreground framing, and, once again, the path leads us into the picture. The horizon too is well away from the middle of the picture. The gentle coloring effectively communicates the sense of place.


On the left is the photo as taken. On the right is a cropped version that moves the tree in the foreground to a third of the way across the picture. In theory, this should be the better composed picture. In fact, the original version on the left gives a better idea of the place. Ultimately, you must go for what pleases you.
Photo of trees in Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge, by Tim Grosset.



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