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4 Key Ingredients For Shooting Successful Landscapes

There are certain elements and key subjects that appear in landscapes time and time again. Here's what they are and why they work.

|  Landscape and Travel
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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.


1. Capture Images Of 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 Trees


2. Shooting Interesting Skies



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 altogether. 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 brightish 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 the 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.


3. Use Water In All Its Forms 



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:


4. Capture Patterns And Textures



Taking the time to emphasise 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:


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Niknut Plus
12 3.3k 82 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2015 4:31PM
I reckon that 99% of the time, it's being in the right place at the right time.........

You can be at a wonderful location, but without the right light it's hopeless; also you
could be confronted with a glorious sky but in an uninspiring location !

I'm an opportunist landscaper, hoping for the best......I haven't got the patience to drive
to a location & wait for the right light/sky, but admire those that can !!

I NEVER go anywhere without a camera, even if it's my little 8mgp compact, there's always
that possibility that it might all come together for that great shot !!.....Finally I'm very self
critical !!!; if that final shot doesn't tick all my boxes it gets dumped, & I only ever present
my best work.......why keep substandard stuff that just fills up the hard drive ??

That's my philosophy for Landscape stuff.......& you're entitled to disagree !!.Grin
kab0811 8 2 United States
14 Jun 2017 2:50PM
I second Niknut's comment;
"I reckon that 99% of the time, it's being in the right place at the right time........."

I also carry my camera EVERYWHERE I go (Fujifilm Finepix S8400w), sometimes to my wife's chagrin B-), because it is about being prepared for that beautiful scene that has unfolded before me or a broken down building has presented itself while driving down some lonely road on the hunt for old bridges or barns. Once it happened coming out of church on a stormy evening and the moment was gone in 5 minutes!

I do save all my pix because I am a historian/author and each is a slice in time that will eventually be gone and sadly forgotten.

This first pic is the very one having emerged from the former Orpheum Theatre which now houses our church in Hannibal, MO.taken with my old Fuji s4430 which some crummy thief stole from my car a few months later.

kab0811 8 2 United States
14 Jun 2017 3:10PM
Following a dentist appointment in Shelbina, MO, I drove down to Patterson Bridge on a late, strong sunlit, afternoon. A local has just driven by and across the bridge stirring up the gravel dust as I sighted in my first shots. So I let the dust settle a bit and shot this oblique angle of the pony truss and the light was just fabulous filtering thru the trees along Crooked Creek just over the county line in Monroe County.


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davetac 13 69 2 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2018 7:22PM
Being in the right place at the right time takes a lot of effort and forward planning. On the other hand taking a photograph of what you see when you see it can be just as satisfying. 92763_1528654921.jpg
13 Jun 2018 1:57PM
This was taken approx 10 minutes after a heavy downpour in Greenwich, SE London in April 2017. I used my Nikon P610 Bridge-camera hand-held.


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