Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tips to Landscape Photography

Landscape photography would seem like an easy thing to do. I mean, how hard is it to pick up a camera? Yet you know how it goes. It's like the oft-depicted scene where someone forces his friends to sit through his entire long, boring vacation slide show. Pretty soon the "friends" are nodding off to sleep, bored to tears.

The question is how to prevent this from occurring. What makes your landscape (wide-angle) photographs stand out from the ordinary?Here are a few key points that I believe will help you.

Beside Still Waters, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

Light

A good photographer knows how to use the light he has been given. Most times, especially if you are on vacation, you are where you are when you are there. I always laugh at articles that suggest scouting out a location and returning at dawn the next day to catch the best light. Yes, that's a great idea, but seriously how many of us have the time? This is especially true if you are a parent with three kids in tow. "Mommy, why are we here AGAIN?"

If you happen to be somewhere in the light of noon, look for scenes that work for that lighting. Use the heavier shadows to your advantage. Perhaps create a silohuette. Frame a brighter scene with a darker one. Shadows work great for highlighting shapes and textures. Late in the day, the twilight hours lend themselves to more monochrome-style images. In lower light, white balance becomes key. Heavy color or the lack thereof makes for fascinating photography.

Myriad Reflections, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida.

Lines

Landscape images naturally lend themselves to lines. The usage of lines is one of the first elements of composition photographers must learn. But remember lines don't have to necessarily be straight. Curves are also lines. The point of any line is how it draws the viewers eye into the photograph. Where does it take you?

Lines are also a negative. When done incorrectly, you have the old "line through the head" faux pas. So pay attention to foreground and background objects!

Sand Curves, Lake Ariana, Auburndale, Florida

Weather

Weather is often key to certain locations. What would a visit to the British Isles be without rain? Take photographs that place a location's weather in the forefront. Always be careful to protect your electronics, but don't let the weather keep you indoors. Low-hanging fog or heavy rain clouds make for interesting photographs.

Try a polarizing filter both to remove unwanted glare and to increase color saturation. After all, who doesn't like turquoise-blue ocean water? Polarizing filters are a great way to include a sunny location's weather in a photograph. Drifting clouds and blue skies make for beautiful photography.

Storm Clouds at Sunset, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

In landscape photography, always pay attention to your depth of field. I prefer to use an aperture of F8 or smaller to capture more detail and achieve greater depth of field. Greater depth of field also comes from being "square" with your scenery. Looking straight at a scene prevents distracting pincushioning and barreling. Try a telephoto lens and crop out unwanted objects. Not every "landscape" image has to be at your widest angle.

Most of all, take lots of photos from many angles and remember to have fun. That is, above all, the most important thing.

Note to readers: I will not be posting next Thursday. Look for me on November 18th.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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