Have you wondered why some landscape photographs are gripping while others simply fall flat? The difference in these two kinds of photographs is because of landscape photography composition. The composition is the heart and soul of photography. Just like the different ingredients in a recipe, the various elements of a photography are needed for best results.
While there are no set of landscape photography composition rules, most experienced photographers have a few common practices for getting good landscape shots. In this article, we have compiled these tips and tricks used by seasoned landscape photographers. However, before we start with these tips, we would like to stress on the fact that your aim should not be to capture a perfect shot. Instead, you should aim at improving whatever shot you capture. Out tips will help you improve your skill and continuous improvement will surely lead to perfection.
- Remember the Rule of Thirds
- Look for Lines
- Choose the Right Lighting
- Frame it Right
- Create a Perceptible Scale
- Use Foreground Creatively
- Strike a Balance
- Go Black and White Sometimes
- Include a Vanishing point
- Use Negative Space Positively
- Summing Up
Top Tips for Landscape Photography Composition
Here are the top tips that will help you improve your composition in photography. Some of these tips are the basics of landscape composition definition and must be adhered to. Let us get started.
Remember the Rule of Thirds
The first point in our list is one of the basics of photo composition. The rule of thirds is the key to effective landscape photography. According to this rule, you have to divide your photo frame into a 3x3 grid. You should then try to place the various photography elements on the intersections of this grid. Such is the importance of this rule in photography that many DSLRs have the option of showing this grid in the viewfinder.
Look for Lines
All sorts of lines- leading, diverging, converging and curvy, have been used as tools for catching attention in photographs and paintings. It is our natural tendency to follow lines in a picture. Therefore, it is vital to understand the various lines that you will include in your landscape photography composition. When you do so, you add intensity to an otherwise plain photograph.
Landscape photographers have successfully have used natural formations like the horizon, the edges of rivers, trees etc. as a source of lines in their photographs. With some practice, you will be able to identify and include effective lines in your photographs.
Choose the Right Lighting
Lighting has a major role to play in composition photography. Not only you need the right light for general brightness in the photograph, you can also use it to enhance the texture. Generally, the golden hour is considered to be the holy grail in landscape composition definition, but other times of the day can also result in awesome landscape shots.
If you closely observe the direction of the light and understand its quality, you will be able to choose optimal settings for your camera. This will definitely take a lot of practice and persistence. Once you are in sync with natural lighting and its quality at different times of the day, it will be easier for you to capture breath-taking shots.
Frame it Right
Before you click your favorite landscape shot, look for a natural frame that you can incorporate. Adding a natural point of interest like a tree branch, a building or a bridge is a very effective tool in landscape photography composition. This simple tip works wonders and yields truly amazing landscape shots.
Overhanging branches of a blooming tree, mighty boulders, and majestic trees are just some examples of best frames for landscape photography. You should let your imagination and creativity run wild and you will find many more such interesting frames for your landscape shots.
Create a Perceptible Scale
Sometimes, an ordinary photograph can be transformed into a great shot simply by conveying the scale. This can be done by placing an object of known size as a comparison point in your shot. For example, the mighty mountains in your background will become more interesting if you include a person in the photograph. By doing so, you will make the viewer aware of the huge mountain. This simple trick is often used in composition photography and is pretty effective too.
Use Foreground Creatively
The foreground in your photograph is one of the most under-utilized elements in photography composition. Our detailed article on foreground photography will tell you more details about this technique. In a nutshell, we can say that foreground of the picture is the first point of contact between the photograph and the viewer. When foreground is used effectively in landscape photography, depth of field is created.
The foreground can also be used to create a story by highlighting certain components. For example, a photograph of a beach that is considered ordinary can be made interesting by including a fishing net. The simple addition of an object in the foreground has the power to hold on the viewer to the photograph.
Strike a Balance
By this statement, we want to convey the importance of keeping things simple. Adding too many elements tends to distract the viewer. Composition in photography is a subtle thing and over-doing anything will be detrimental. Use only the most vital elements that will add to the meaning of your photograph.
Sometimes, highlighting just one or two features of a vast landscape does more good to photo composition than including everything. This judgment of what to include and what to omit will come to you with a bit of practice.
Go Black and White Sometimes
Colours are beautiful. But that doesn’t mean that you should not experiment with the beauty of black and white shots. Sometimes, black and white pictures bring out the textures and intensity of landscape photography much better than colored pictures. You wouldn’t know unless you try it.
Include a Vanishing point
A very effective way to get an interesting landscape shot is to include a point that gives a vanishing illusion. For example, the dock that suddenly seems to disappear in the vast ocean, or the point that suddenly seems to be lost as two converging lines meet. This is one of the more interesting landscape composition rules that generates a sudden interest in the viewer.
Use Negative Space Positively
The final point in our list of landscape photography composition tips is about using the negative space to your advantage. It is true that all interesting action happens in the positive space. However, the appeal of the photograph can be enhanced dramatically by including negative space in your shot.
These tips and tricks will surely help you get the most out of your landscape photography shots. As you see, these are not extraordinary pieces of advice, yet, they are vital for obtaining good landscape shots.
It is good to know the various ways by which you can improve your landscape shots. However, the art of photography has no limits. Rules work differently for everyone, and effective landscape photography composition is what makes the photograph stand out.
If you feel that your shots can be made better by overlooking some rule, go ahead and click it your way.