Does it ever bother you that you have one of the best cams out there in the market, but you are still unable to take that photograph you thought you could with the right camera in hand?
No doubt, the camera affects the quality of the photograph, but far more critical is how you have composed the scene into that snap.
Photography is much more than owning the right piece of equipment; it is about the thought behind the picture and how you capture it. Creative photography involves experimenting and it helps to come up with new ideas.
Capturing a beautiful landscape photo involves more than just adjusting the camera and shooting.
There is a photography quote by the famous photographer Edward Weston. He said
“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
What Is Photo Composition?
So, what exactly is photo composition?
You may think of photo composition in geometric terms because usually, this is how it is presented. However, in reality, you can only understand it more abstractly.
In photo composition, what matters the most is how you position yourself in the scene and the way you arrange the elements in front of you.
Whenever you compose a photograph, the first thing that you must identify is the subject or the central point of interest in that picture.
The composition of your photograph should direct your viewer’s attention first on the subject, and then on the elements around it.
When we’re talking about photo composition, we’re pointing to what your camera captures and what your audience sees.
We have compiled a list of photo composition tips for landscape photography, which will help you out to capture the perfect landscape.
Whether you are a professional or amateur, these tips should help you take your photography skills to the next level.
Point Of Interest
The first photo composition tip is to identify the Point of interest. This is unarguably the essential element of photo composition because without a POI, you are capturing a meaningless and random shot.
There is photography quote by Ansel Adams that goes like this, “Nothing is worse than a sharp image with a fuzzy concept.”
When it comes to landscape photography, lacking a point of interest means, you have a vast landscape in front of you, but you have no idea what you may be looking at.
A point of interest doesn’t need to be a person. With landscape photography it can be a mountain or a tree, or a ray of light on some part of a dark cave. It can be anything. However, you must have one.
The image below doesn’t have a point of interest and appears to be very busy.
When you want to photograph any landscape, ask yourself,
What exactly your photo should be about?
That is, the element, which should get the focus, the right exposure and composition.
The image below is with the similar landscape as the first one but, in this one the photographer has kept the rock as a point of interest.
Thus the perspective and depth of the image is changed.
Rule Of Thirds
Rule of thirds is comparatively a more technical tip.
In a nutshell, it is the photo composition with the principle that you put the point of interest on the thirds of your frame.
Let us explain this.
Usually, when you buy a new camera and turn it on to take your first shot, there is a grid that generally annoys you at first. Still, it is quite useful.
This gird is composed of evenly spaced pairs of horizontal and vertical lines.
When we place the subject on these lines, mainly where they intersect, a much more visually pleasing shot is created.
It helps to create balance in a shot and gives it more context.
See the picture without rule of thirds.
By moving the camera to lower third, keeping squirrel as a point of interest, we use the rule of third to create an image smartly.
Now you can see the difference between two images.
Let’s show two parallel images, so that it is more clear.
Element Of Reflection
If there’s one thing humans really love, its order and symmetry, and I don’t think there is any natural phenomenon which is more orderly than reflections.
Capturing reflections is an art. Displaying of the horizon line in the center can be alluring.
Reflections are a stunning beauty that adds a painterly texture to an image.
Autumn is a great season for capturing water reflections. The range of colors from the foliage at this time of the year can help you achieve some stunning shots.
Once we head into winter, it offers a fantastic time for capturing shots of mist and fog that starts forming over the water. The fog can add some extra drama and mystery to a scene.
Keep your focus on composition. You don’t see the reflection from a normal height. When you get down to the ground level you can capture a perfect shot.
You also have to think about your aperture while taking these shots. When you get close to the reflection, you must keep the aperture less open, to maintain the sharpness and clarity of the shot.
Foreground interest can make a much more interesting photograph and can lead the viewer’s eye-in. You can use foreground to introduce an element of depth into the picture.
By placing something interesting in the foreground of your frame, you can create an amazingly impactful image.
In landscape images, if you want to capture what you’re seeing with your eye, you must have that 3D effect in a picture. When you have flat images, they don’t grab the viewer’s attention. See the image below.
If you move your camera to a slightly different angle, you can create images that are going to catch people’s attention. People are going to feel that they’re enjoying that scene with you.
Use hyperfocal distance to make everything from foreground to back of your frame.
Use Diagonal Lines
Diagonal lines in an image can add excitement to a picture, which would otherwise be quite dull in a straightforward, side to side sort of a view.
The diagonals add a movement in the photo and catches the attention of the viewer.
Diagonal relationship between the two elements of the image adds more depth.
See the images below; where the subjects are parallel to each other, the image seems dull. On the other hand, where the subjects are diagonal to each other, the image creates a depth.
Add Trees To The Scene
Adding vibrant colors to your photography is always a plus factor. Composing a perfect picture is all about using objects in the foreground and point of interest in the background.
In the case of landscape photography, greenery is your best friend. This image below appears to be a little dull.
When you set a foreground and point of interest in the background with threes and plants, the impact of the picture changes a thousand folds.
Elements in your environment play a vital role in adding depth to your landscape photo. If you put together all these elements in your picture, in just the right way, a perfect picture will be composed.
The second image below shows a perfect example of making a good photograph great. Compiling the surrounding elements correctly will help you achieve the desire result.
With simple composing techniques, you can take the two-dimensional image and give it a three-dimensional feel.
It is an amazing picture but it does not do justice with the actual place. Check the image below without any specific perspective.
To add more depth you can add an object
But adding himself in the frame, photographer has added a perspective to the image.
Add Foreground, Mid-ground & Background
Without a clear foreground, mid-ground or an unclear background, the image has no impact. See the image below.
Look at the same image with a clear foreground, mid-ground and background.
See? You just have to be clear and should keep in mind what impact you want to have on the viewer. Shoot it with that in mind.
Create Vanishing Space
If you have an object with parallel lines, you can use it to determine the horizon line and vanishing point.
See the image below.
It is an amazing landscape with the parallel wooden pathway. When we draw lines from the edge of the plank on both sides, the point where they intersect is the horizon line.
And the point where these lines intersect is the vanishing point for anything that is parallel to these planks.
When you frame a shot with a vanishing point, it adds drama to an image and draws in the viewers attention. Photographers use it to create a depth in two dimensional medium.
The golden section and golden rectangle are the oldest and most utilized methods to create a perfect shot.
The most pleasing forms to the eye are a golden rectangle and golden section. These are based on the Fibonacci sequence using the geometry in math.
The golden section ratio is 1:1.618. It is also known as the ratio of beauty.
This ratio is seen repeatedly in nature. The spiral connecting the points is found in galaxies, shells and weather.
Mathematically, we have the following equation:
This image shows what we get when we transfer this math to geometry.
Let’s show you the image without the golden ratio.
Now set the image frame with a golden ratio.
You can easily see the difference in the image taken with the golden ratio.
Block Method Composition
Block method composition is pretty simple. In this method, you simply have to filter the details which work together to form a composition.
When you see a scene, there will be details which will be irritating. You have to avoid these details as this may seem confusing to the viewer.
Moreover, you need to define the dominant shapes and figure out how these can work together to create a fascinating image.
See the image below, the shape of sheep are the dominant ones. These work together with the landscape behind to create a great image.
Frame Within Frame
The whole idea of a frame within a frame technique is to use something within the scene in front in order to frame the main subject.
Here is the image to make it understandable. The photographer has captured the London bridge sharply through the frame of the airplane.
Similarly in the next image the photographer has captured a beautiful landscape including the frame of a cave.
Leave Negative Space
Negative space is a great way to form an amazing photo composition and depth in the image.
Negative space is a space around your subject.
It is also known as white space.
The subject is the positive space and the space around it is the negative space.
Here is the picture without negative space. You can see that the image seems too busy.
Negative space calms the photograph, and it doesn’t look busy.
Leading lines is a technique in which you use the elements of the environment to create a visual pathway to the focal point or the subject of the image.
In the image below, the photographer has used the leading lines to focus on the clock tower.
These leading lines don’t need to be straight ones. They can be in a curve, spiral or anything, which may guide a viewer’s eyes to the main subject in the image.
Which one is your favorite composition tip for landscape photography?
We would love to heard from you in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Think Sharply, Focus on Abstract.