While most people and animals won’t sit still for a second, landscapes don’t move an inch. That gives you the opportunity to set up a tripod at exactly the right spot, setting it to the right height, take multiple exposures lasting longer than 20 seconds, and control almost everything to perfection. If one shot fails miserably with exposure, indicated by a blinking highlight warning from your camera, just take another shot.
But don’t landscapes change at all? Well, yes they do.
First, the light will change during the day.
Second, the clouds can make a big difference. A dull scenery, with a cloud moving on for five minutes letting the sun shine through the right way, could make vivid spectacle.
Third, there could be additional dynamic elements in the picture, like an eagle flying in the air, or a boat tranquilly floating on the river.
Flaws to avoid with landscape photography
- While a broad view can be interesting, don’t automatically use a wide angle lens and try to include everything in your photo. Then the really interesting parts of the photo can get lost in the overall picture. Instead choose an interesting part of the scene, and frame your photo accordingly to simplify the photo.
- If your image wants to convey the beauty of nature, human constructed elements like a shiny red car or a white fence might well spoil the mood. When possible try to get rid of that. Try to find a spot where that traffic sign at the center of the landscape stands right behind a tree, just wait 2 minutes till that red car has driven away. But human elements don’t always have to ruin a landscape photo. Curly roads could be excellent leading lines, and visible human figures walking around can point out the vastness of the scenery.
- Remember to have the camera horizontal. It is very awkward to have a landscape photo with the horizon tilted.
Oddities with landscape photography
While you probably won’t expect many oddities with landscape picture, in fact there are quite some.
- Sometimes there are strange objects like dead trees with curling branches. When walking closer they can make a fine foreground. A living tree bending over so much, that let’s the viewer wonder why it hasn’t fall yet, makes a diagonal that brings some dynamic in the image.
- Weather is of great help with oddities. Mist can create a calm or mysterious atmosphere. Mist above a lake can hide the horizon and take away the expected clear distinction line between the lake and the sky.
- Watch for repetitions in the landscape.
- Lakes can generate marvellous reflections of trees and mountains, an unusual rotated extra view of subjects.
- Normally you can’t see sun beams, but when clouds break, sun beams create an orchestra of diagonals. And of course rainbows are a colorful addition.
Extremes with landscape photography
When looking for extremes, landscapes are the natural place to be.
- In freezing winter there is ice on the lakes, heaps of snow making it a drastic different scene.
- Show the height of mountains, the vastness of a flat landscape. People or objects with familiar size can be used to emphasize the scale of the photo. Besides that they can be used as a focal point.
- The landscape can also extraordinary parts, like very steep mountains.
- Ultra wide panoramas with an ultra wide angle lens or by stitching multiple photos together in the digital darkroom gives a fascinating view with giant impact. If you want to stitch multiple photos together if there is any tilt to the camera, vertical lines will converge. This will make it very difficult in the digital darkroom. So be sure that your camera is exactly horizontal by using a level attached to the hot shoe of your camera. If the camera is switched to auto exposure, the different shots can have a different exposure settings that have to be adjusted afterwards. Manual exposure can prevent that.