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Photographing Landscapes

One reason why some landscape photographs do not capture the attention of the viewer is often the result of poor composition. The photographer is frequently awed by the space and scale of the site, the overall view - but when this is compressed into a single photograph, the grand scale is lost, as is the emotion the photographer felt. As humans we have the facility to move our eyes, head, our entire bodies to absorb the all encompassing grandeur of a location, we may also be experiencing other feelings using none visual senses; the temperature may be significant, perhaps the location has a smell – pleasant or tainted, maybe there is a quality to the sound of the site. It is difficult, and mostly impossible, to convey the emotions felt by our non visual senses but occasionally we might imply; a strong wind may bend a tree or invert an umbrella and a cold day can be inferred by a shivering person or a frozen pond. As photographers attempting to recreate the sensation of the location we must endeavour to distil the visual elements into a picture which will excite the viewer and convey something of the place. Conversely, we may on occasions add a spark of creativity to a picture, by choosing a viewpoint, time of the day or year which will make the picture appear far better than actual location. This should be our goal.

It is often far better to identify a smaller space that typically represents the site and scene, and with careful composition and camera angle create an illusion of space.

To start with identify a reference point (a point of view) in your mind as to what makes the scene worth while. By using this item as the focal point, the eye may be able to ascertain perspectives in relation to this item. Areas of tone and colour can be used to enhance picture depth and a feeling of space.

Landscape photography includes wide open spaces of fields, beaches, desserts, rainforests and farming land. It may also include visions of city buildings and industrial landscapes.

Many photographers classify landscapes under two groups:

If you are planning to photograph a popular landscape scene (eg Sydney Opera House and Bay), consider doing the view from an unusual vantage point in order to achieve a new perspective on the item. Aim to avoid the obvious viewpoint. However, your preperation should include looking at what has already been achieved by other photographers, which will set a benchmark for your own efforts and give inspiration.