Capturing a stunning view in a photograph takes a special approach, and beautiful scenery doesn’t necessarily make the landscape photographer’s job easy. Many photographers make basic mistakes when shooting landscape pictures, and the results can be a disappointment. The following are some of the common mistakes which can spoil an otherwise great landscape shot.
1) Not having a clear subject.
Before shooting any picture you should have a very clear idea of the subject you are trying to capture. Pointing a camera at a beautiful view and pressing the shutter button will probably lead to disappointment. The atmosphere of an outdoor scene doesn’t always translate well into a photograph. Look for a focal point in every landscape picture, and your pictures will improve instantly.
2) Poor composition.
Composition is the foundation of all effective photographs. Think carefully about how you position the horizon and other elements of a picture before taking the shot. Studying the work of great painters is an excellent foundation for learning how to compose landscape pictures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unusual compositions. For example, a landscape shot could be framed so that the majority of the picture is the sky.
3) Shooting with the wrong lens.
Most photographers select a wide angle lens when shooting scenery. The natural approach is to capture everything possible in one frame. However, this often results in a photograph without a clear subject, and the shot is a nothing more than a snapshot. Details can say as much about a scene as the wide angle approach. Isolating key elements of a scene with a telephoto lens can produce powerful landscape images. A wide angle is the right lens for most landscape shots, but there are many exceptions.
4) Lack of foreground interest.
Foreground details, such as flowers, can turn a dull landscape photograph into a great one. Look for foreground interest when out shooting, and be prepared to squat down and look for different angles when shooting. Foreground details can add an important element of scale to landscape pictures.
5) Poor focussing.
Unless you are deliberately isolating elements of a scene from the background, the entire scene should be in focus from foreground to background. Selecting a small aperture ensures maximum depth of field. A tripod can be a very useful tool for the landscape photographer, and it allows you to shoot at small apertures in lower light. A tripod also reduces the risk of camera shake spoiling a shot.
6) Shooting at the wrong time of day.
Landscapes change dramatically as the angle, strength and color of light changes through the day. Sunrise and sunset brings warm light and long shadows. The middle of the day brings cooler light which can make landscapes look flat and dull. The time of day you shoots makes a huge difference to the results in landscape photography. If a scene doesn’t have the right quality of light, think about coming back at a different time.
7) Playing by the rules.
Rules are made to be broken in creative arts, and your photographs will look the same as everyone else’s if you don’t try different things. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Experiment with a broad range of techniques and approaches to landscape photography, and try to see things in original ways.