Landscape photography is immensely rewarding, but also challenging and sometimes frustrating. Even the most experienced professionals have their fair share of failures. It is easy to be swept up with enthusiasm for a great location, especially on your first visit. I fall into the same trap myself.
When arriving at a great landmark for the first time, I just can't wait to get a picture, and any picture will do. Once the initial excitement wears off I come back to reality, and try to find a way to create an image that is a little more exceptional than your average snapshot. Once I start thinking like a photographer, and not like a tourist, I can try to live up to the potential of the scene in front of me. Here are a few of the steps you can go through to start seeing your subject with a photographer's eye. Photography Tip #1. Think About The Light.
You are probably aware of the principle that the best light for a landscape photo occurs early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is true most of the time. Your first decision, on reaching your location, should be this: will the light for this subject be early or late in the day? This depends on several things.
If you are facing East and you want the sun shining on the subject, you should take your photos close to sunset, when the sun is shining from the West. On the other hand, if you want a silhouette, with the sun behind the subject, you should aim for sunrise. If you are able to camp overnight, you should try to do so.
By being there both early and late in the day, you will often find opportunities you had not expected. For example, you may think your subject is best at sunset, only to find that the following sunrise presents unexpected benefits, like dew on the ground or even wildlife. Photography Tip #2. Plan Your Composition. Whenever you visit a well-known landmark, you should remember that is has been photographed millions of times, by amateurs and professionals alike.
Almost every photo you can take has already be done by somebody else. Even if your photo is not unique, you should at least find an angle that sets your photo apart from the majority of snapshots. To do this, ask yourself this question: "What is there in the surroundings that I can use to make my photo better?" Perhaps you can photograph your subject framed through the branches of a tree. Perhaps after rain there will be a puddle that creates good reflections. There may be a shapely tree to one side to add interest to the composition, or wildflowers to add a touch of colour in the foreground. Anything that adds impact is worth considering.
Photography Tip #3. Eliminate Distractions. Follow this principle at all times: "Anything that does not make my photo better, makes it worse." Before you take your photo, look into every part of the frame and make sure there is nothing that will create a distraction to someone looking at your photo. Footprints and litter are two obvious examples that can spoil a natural setting.
You may be thinking it is easy to remove them with software later on, but in truth it can take hours to do it really well. It is so much easier to get it right when you take the shot. Photography Tip #4. Consider The Sky. A perfect clear sky can be lovely to look at, but add nothing to a photo. If your sky is plain and uninteresting, try to avoid letting it take over the photo.
This can be a simple matter of angling the camera down to capture more foreground and less sky. If you have a chance to return when the sky is more interesting, take it. When the sky does offer something special, make the most of it. Be aware that the sky produces shapes and patterns that can have a leading effect on the eye of your viewer.
Try to use the shapes in the sky to add to the overall composition and enhance the impact of the main subject. It never hurts to try a polarizing filter to add a little extra contrast, making the clouds stand out even more. Photography Tip #5. Be Patient. All the planning in the world can mean nothing without a little luck.
Even if you do everything right, you can still end up with an unremarkable result. However, if you are patient enough, there will come a moment when the forces of nature combine to give you something really special. A good photographer is patient enough to wait for that moment, and quick enough to grab it when it arrives.
I can't tell you what to look for; it could be a rainbow, sunbeams in the clouds, a bird flying by at just the right moment.trust me, you will know it when you see it. Does that mean nature photography is all about luck? Of course not.
You make your luck by having the skill to set up a shot, the patience to be there at the right moment, and the talent to recognize and capture it. Think of it as nature's reward for a job well done.
If you found these commonsense tips helpful, visit http://www.naturesimage.com.au and check out "Photography In Plain English," Andrew Goodall's top-selling ebook on the art and skills of good nature photography. You can keep learning by signing up to the free online newsletter.