Choosing the right focal length is critical to balancing the key elements in the frame of a landscape. Before hitting the shutter button, take time to think about where you're placing the camera and the focal length you're using.
For example, try a longer focal length and step back. This will pull distant objects into the image and create harmony with what's in the foreground as David Clapp's images here illustrate:
Another way to balance your landscape shots is with foreground interest. An object placed in the foreground can help guide the eye in the right direction as well as filling in what could be a vast empty space when your attention is on mountains and other background detail. Foreground detail helps give landscapes a sense of depth too. For more information, take a look at this article: Why You Should Look For Interesting Foregrounds For Your Landscapes
An alternative way to add foreground interest is with a frame. We don't mean for you to go out with a large photo frame in-hand but do be on the look out for items and objects out in the landscape that can be used to create a frame for your shot. Over hanging branches, doorways and arches are just a few examples of frames you can find when out-and-about.
Don't overlook the basic rules of photography which includes the rule of thirds, lines, shapes and various other elements as these can help you balance your shot. You'll need to use your lens to compliment the rule which could mean changing it's position or adjusting the zoom. Take a look at these beginner's tips for more information: Beginner's Guide To Composition
As wide angle lenses sometimes create distortion, an alternative way to shoot photos that have more of the landscape in them is with a panorama
. You can shoot panoramas with a short telephoto focal lens and using a tripod helps but it's not essential. The important thing is the choice of scene. Scenes with close to the camera elements will not stitch properly with this method. However, you can buy dedicated panorama heads
for scenes that have foreground as well as background interest. More panorama photography tips can be found here: How To Shoot Panoramas
and Panoramas Without A Panoramic Head
More information on lens choices for landscapes can be found in this article: Make The Most Of Your Lenses For Scenics