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Landscape Photography Part 3

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In the previous two tutorials on landscape photography we've looked at some specialised techniques, what equipment you need and how to pick locations. In this final part I want to cover some of the basic guidelines for landscape composition that will help to improve your landscape photography.

Think in pictures
When you're looking at a view through a camera viewfinder it's sometimes hard to imagine the scene as it will appear as a final print. What looks like a spectacular scene when you're shooting it may look very flat and dull to someone who wasn't there, and no amount of explaining is going to make it look more interesting.

While the light on the trees looked nice through the viewfinder, the picture above is boring. It has no focal point, composition or theme to make it interesting for the viewer.


Take your time, and really study the scene. Try to see it not as a magnified view through your viewfinder, but as a finished print hanging on the wall. Ignore the surroundings, and just see what is there in the frame. This is hard to do with a viewfinder, which is why a lot of traditional film-using landscape photographers prefer the view through a waist-level finder on a medium-format camera. Looking down onto a mirror-reversed view on a ground-glass plate separates the image from the scenery you can see around you and makes it easier to consider the composition as a whole.

The simple composition above works because it follows a number of basic guidelines.


Using the live monitor view on a digital camera can achieve some of the same effect, especially on cameras with tilting monitors. Many current digital SLRs now have live monitor view, and this is an immensely useful feature for landscape photographers, since it means you can combine the image quality of an SLR with the convenience of a compact.

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