Great landscape photography brings the viewer into the scene, making a two dimensional
image feel three dimensional. It also tells a story, leading the eye through it, revealing more and
more the further you go. There are many composition and lighting techniques that landscape
photographers use to achieve these effects. One of the most powerful is the use of a wide angle lens
and the careful placement of foreground, middle ground and background elements.
Find a suitable landscape. Look for exciting background and middle ground elements first, such
as dramatic sky, mountains, trees, streams, or shapes and patterns in the land that lead into the
distance. Then look for an interesting subject that you can get close to for the foreground, such as a
flower, plant, rock, log or intimate landscape feature.
Try many different camera positions to bring the elements together in a way that draws the viewer
into the image. I like to use lines, light/shadow or motion to form a connection between my foreground
and background, such as the S curve of a stream or ridge, a line of trees or rocks, or shadows cast by
low angle sun.
Get close to your foreground. A wide angle lenses make distant objects look even more distant. To
emphasize and showcase your foreground element you need to get close, sometimes within a few feet
or even inches. Setting up too far away from your foreground feature makes it fade into the middle
ground and leaves your foreground empty.
Use a split neutral density filter to highlight the foreground and darken the more distant objects and the
sky. The viewer’s eye will be drawn to the lighter foreground element first before being led into through
the image towards the background. The darker background will appear more distant.
Camera Setting Tips
Always use a Tripod
Remote Cable Release
CL shooting Mode
Aperture Priority Mode
Check Histogram; Expose to the right
Best to shoot at two times of day…dawn and dusk, 15-30 min. before sunrise (then 30-60 minutes after
sunrise), and 15-30 min. before sunset (then up to 30 min. after)
The only exception to this rule is during storms, foliage right after a rain, and hazy/foggy times – or you
can shoot on cloudy days if you can eliminate all or most of the sky from the composition
Use a stop-down or polarizing filter if conditions are too bright, or when you want a slow shutter speed
to create silky water movement. Horizon lines are best 1/3 from the top (or 1/8 sky if sky is boring) to maintain
the depth and keep the horizon line straight. :)