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5 Key Elements For Shooting Successful Landscapes

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Category: Landscape and Travel

5 Key Landscape Photography Subjects - There are certain elements and key subjects that appear in landscapes time and time again. Here's what they are and why they work.

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Landscape photography's a wide topic, however there are certain key elements which appear in various shots, taken by many different photographers, as they help add an extra level of interest or give shots mood and more impact.

Woods
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

Trees

A subject which is photogenic at any time of the year, trees, either on their own or stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a large forest, are strong structures that add interest to wide landscapes and become dominant and striking when photographed on their own. They can give images a sense of scale and when photographed up close, make excellent textures for adding to other photos at later dates.

For more tips on shooting trees, take a look at this tutorial: Ten Top Ways To Photograph


Skies, Sun And Clouds

The sky, and how much of it is in frame, will change the overall focus and feeling of the image you're trying to take. Dark, rain-filled clouds will add drama while white clouds sat against a blue sky will create a completely different feeling all together. Interesting skies can occur at any time of year and at any time of day so you just have to be aware of the conditions and keep an eye on what’s happening.

If you have a sky full of interesting cloud formations the key is to making sure the clouds aren't too bright. Check your histogram if you're unsure. Make sure you're ready to shoot an interesting formation as soon as you see it as they change shape quickly and if the clouds are rather breath-taking remember to lose some of the ground to make the sky your focus.

Blurring the movement of the clouds is an interesting effect that can also help create leading lines to guide the eye through the photograph. If you're shooting on a bright-ish day you'll need to fit an ND filter so you can use the slower shutter speeds without too much light reaching the sensor.

As briefly mentioned above, if they sky is really impressive, shift the horizon down so the sky dominates the frame. It does still help to have some land in the image, though as this adds foreground interest as well as scale to the shot.

For more tips on shooting skies, take a look at this article: How To Photograph Interesting Skies.
We also have an article on Capturing Mood In Your Photos as well as a Top Ten On Photographing Sunsets.

Landscape
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

Water

Be it lakes, rivers, streams or ponds, water often plays a big part in landscapes. It can be used to add a sense of movement to what would be a static image, reflections on its surface can add depth and in winter, frozen water adds another element of interest to landscape shots.

For more tips on shooting water in the landscape, take a look at these tutorials:

Patterns And Textures

Taking the time to emphasis shapes, patterns and textures that appear in nature can help create a strong image when isolated from what's around them. This works particularly well for black and white shots when you need ways to separate the different elements in your frame. Why? Well, when taking landscapes in colour, it's easy to see different elements in the landscape but once the colours are taken away, the various elements tend to blend together more as the tones are similar once converted to black and white. Seek out strong shapes in the landscape such as walls and trees that might provide a leading line into the landscape. Strong distinctive shapes are easier for the eye to pick out and understand even when the tones are similar.

Strong, side-light will enhance textures so head out early or late in the day when the sun's decided it doesn't want to hide behind clouds.

For more tips on using textures and patterns, take a look at these tutorials: black & white landscape
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk







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