Understanding composition in Landscape photography
In this article, we’ll talk about the elements of composition in landscape photography.
The composition in landscape photography is the foundation of the image. Excellent landscape photos based on two elements. Composition and light.
We can’t control the quality of daylight. But the composition is completely in our hands. What to include in the frame, and what to leave behind the scenes. The solution to this question is the most important stage in the work in the future photo.
Harmony or chaos, balance or imbalance, classical composition or abstraction. This can be an effective tool for the photographer. If you know the basic rules of composition and can apply this in your creation. It does not matter how you make a shot.
The photo is 2D, but we try to show the volume of the surrounding space in the frame, realistic 3D landscape. The success of this frame in the audience depends on the composition. Come closer to interesting objects to achieve this goal. Shoot them closer so they look bigger.
- A wide-angle lens is an ideal tool for this, f-stop from f8 to f16.
Frame Within the Frame
The natural frames, ideally focus the viewer’s attention on the main object. Try to make sure that the “frame” does not distract the viewer’s attention. The frame can cover the empty space in the frame or hide the interfering details. All the details of the picture must be sharp.
- A wide-angle lens is an ideal tool for this, f-stop from f8 to f16.
Rule of Thirds or Symmetry
The rule of thirds is very simple. Almost all cameras have a “grid lines” function. Turn it on. The screen will be divided into 9 rectangles. Place the main object of the scene along one or more of the lines or where the lines intersect. If you are shooting something in the foreground, place the horizon line along the top line. And conversely, if you want to focus on the clouds in the sky. The sky is much more interesting objects of the surrounding landscape.
Always pay attention to symmetry.
The best example of symmetry in landscape photography is the reflection in the water. If the water in the lake is still, you will see an almost perfect reflection. Symmetric framing is completely justified in this case. The results of such a symmetrical frame can be very unexpected and interesting.
«I take the stone and cut off all spare». Michelangelo
The principle of minimalism is complete in landscape photography too. Do not complicate the composition of a lot of objects and details. Focus on the essentials. I assure you that your landscape photography will reach a new level. When you’re looking at the landscape, try to simplify it. Zoom in on your lens until you exclude everything unnecessary. A more “closed” composition looks better always than a wide-angle landscape photo with many uninteresting objects.
PRO TIP. Take a 50mm lens and shoot the whole day with one lens.
I made special cards. Use them. Upload them to your smartphone and use them during photo walks. They will help you quickly find the main compositional elements.
What are the elements of composition in landscape photography
I will talk about 7 basic elements of composition in landscape photography. It’s elements of composition that really work. Try to find them. These elements are the basis of beautiful landscape photography.
So, what are 7 basic elements of composition in landscape photography?
- Texture and pattern.
Lines are a powerful compositional tool.
- Lines are natural and imaginary. Natural lines are roads, fences, rows of trees, streams, rivers, long or tall buildings, shadows… Imaginary lines are lines that create an imaginary route for a view.
- The diagonal. Add depth of landscape photography. Very effective lines going to the right and up.
- Horizontal. Hold the composition. For example, this is a horizon or shadow line.
- Vertical. Very dynamic lines. For example, skyscrapers, poles, tree trunks.
- Converging. The most powerful composition tool. The best example is the road going into the distance. Use wide-angle optics and aperture f / 11-16.
- S-shape lines. These lines are similar diagonal lines. Bend of the river flow or road there is a good example.
It is difficult to pass by a beautiful form. It could be anything. The snag is the best example. The form, as an element of composition, can be self-sufficient. It will also be the main object of landscape photography. A wonderful foreground.
Pattern and Texture
As well as the shape, texture and patterns in landscape photography engage the viewer’s eye. Texture and pattern can be the main object and even cover the entire frame.
The ability to see patterns and rhythm will turn you into a wonderful abstractionist.
Color is the most difficult tool. But also one of the key elements of composition in landscape photography. This is the reason that so few wonderful landscape photos. Ability to work with colors, this is the supreme skill.
First, what do you should study “The Color Theory”.
You will make a dynamic and eye-catching landscape picture if include in the frame bright contrasting colors, blue and yellow or red and green.
The Colors don’t necessarily be contrasted. This statement proves sunrise and sunset colors.
Light in a landscape photo performs technical and visual functions. With the help of light, you can transfer the volume, scale, contrast to the photos. Properties of the surface of the water, stone are also transmitting to the viewer with the help of light. Natural photographic light is a great success. Improve the skill to see the light.
A good light in photography is a light, when visible highlights, medium tones, and shadows. The best time for landscape photography is sunrise, sunset, and twilight. At noon, the light is “sharp.” Therefore, all landscape photographers try to shoot during sunrise and sunset.
Mountains, rocks, waterfalls. How to show the size of the main object. The scale is the best emphasized by objects whose dimensions are well known to us. Place the person near to the waterfall. And the viewer immediately sees the real size of the waterfall.
The contrast isn’t an independent element of the composition. It’s a “duet” of light and form; colors and textures…
But remember that high contrast isn’t well for a landscape photography!
Aerial perspective based on low-contrast.
In art, especially painting, aerial perspective refers to the technique of creating an illusion of depth by depicting distant objects as paler, less detailed, and usually bluer than near objects. (Wikipedia).
When the fog covers all around the contrast is low. Learn to see interesting contrasting landscapes. This one skill will take you one level higher.
How to search the basic elements of composition in landscape photography?
Remember how you usually photograph nature? “Interesting stones in the water, I want to take pictures of them!” Photographers usually think that they don’t know the basic elements of composition.
If you saw something interesting – stop and see what attracted you. Now is the time to remember the basic elements of composition. It’s important to understand that you have seen which of the elements. Don’t make many shots. It doesn’t differ much from each other.
Turn on the LiveView mode on the camera and looking on the screen. Move left-right, forward and backward, squat, keeping your eyes at the screen. So you can see how changes a landscape in real time and choose exactly the moment that will seem to you the best for a shot.
I wrote about all the compositional tools in this article I’ve been using for 10 years. This guide is written for a beginner photographer, and I tried to avoid unnecessarily complex elements of composition. I’m convinced that the tips in this guide will help yours.
Download special cards on your smartphone and use them during your photo walks. Very soon you will see that these simple guidelines really help, and you will realize that your work has reached a new level.
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