7 Tips to Improve Your Landscapes

By Daniel Lezano. Posted

1 Know the fundamentals

Taking great landscape images requires you to understand the basic rules of composition. The rule-of-thirds is the first compositional guideline you should learn and involves positioning your main subject for maximum effect. Divide your image equally using three vertical and two horizonal lines and place your subject where the thirds meet. The other important aspect to learn is ensuring your image has strong foreground interest that leads the viewer’s eye into the frame.

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2 The golden hour

The last hour of daylight before the sun sets is often referred to as the ‘golden hour’, because the light has a wonderful natural warmth to it that bathes the scene. With the sun low in the sky, shadows are long and help to reveal texture and depth in the landscape if you keep the sun to one side of the camera. You can’t really fail to take great shots at this time of day, so make the most of it – then hang around until night falls as the sky will continue to change colour.

3 Find striking silhouettes

Silhouettes are created when a scene with a solid object in the foreground is exposed for the sky, resulting in the object being recorded as a solid black shape. Church spires, statues, trees, buildings, boats and other recognisable ‘objects’ make great silhouettes and sunrise/sunset is a great time to shoot them.

Leave the exposure to your camera – set aperture-priory mode, use multi-zone metering and review the image on the LCD, using exposure compensation to fine-tune to perfection.

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4 Add a sense of scale

Often when shooting grand views, it’s difficult to capture a sense of scale, which means the resulting images lack impact. The easiest way around this is to try and include something of a recognisable size – a scale marker. People standing or walking are the most popular , but buildings, animals and trees can also work well because our brain can relate their size to other features in the scene.

5 Shoot into the light

We normally shoot landscapes with the sun either behind us or to the side of the camera, but rarely do we shoot straight into the light, a technique known as ‘contre-jour’. Although there is a strong risk of flare, the effect can be stunning, especially morning scenes filled with mist that add extra atmosphere and mood.

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6 Colour impact

Colour can bring emotion, mood or energy to your images. Receding colours, like green and blue can add calmness and tranquillity, while advancing colours like red, yellow and orange are often perceived as warm, energetic and powerful. Combine colours that compliment each other, or contrast them to create images with extra punch. For example, set vibrant red poppies against a deep blue sky, or bright yellow leaves against a green backdrop. Use a polarising filter to saturate colours and on blue-sky days find fields of red poppies or yellow rapeseed for maximum impact.

7 Shoot in portrait format

You’ll typically shoot landscapes holding the camera horizontally, but it’s worth checking every scene with it held in an upright position. With the camera on its side, you can emphasise vertical or converging lines in a scene, such as a stream or river meandering through the scene, as well as exaggerate foreground interest.

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