Composing Landscape Pictures

Getting a good shot of a beautiful landscape is harder than it looks. When you’re out at some wonderfully scenic place it can seem that its simplicity itself to get a cool image: Just point the camera and shoot away!

A view from atop a ridge is a classic example. Gazing out towards the horizon the mind boggles with all that space. Whether its up in the mountains or along the coast the long expansive view is incredibly alluring and at the same time hard to capture as a remarkable image.

Mount Rainier and Snow Grass

Mount Rainier and Snow Grass

I can’t count how many pictures I’ve taken of a view from a mountain. And while these pictures always held an interest for me (because I was there and recall everything that went along with the view), other people viewing the image were never properly impressed.

Last night I was up at a lookout for the sunset. I saw several people there with their cameras snapping images at the edge of the overlook.

This is the sort of shot they got.
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What’s lacking is perspective, scale, near and far.

Samish Bay and Skagit Valley

Samish Bay and Skagit Valley

Composing Landscape Pictures

Almost any landscape image will be made better by including an interesting element close to the camera.

This is one reason why a wide angle lens gets used so often by landscape photographers. It allows you to get close to something near and it also (very importantly) allows you to get sharp focus on both the near and the far elements of the image.

Another example that comes to mind is aboard the ferry boat. Here in Western Washington we are blessed with mountains and ocean. Riding the ferry boat during a sunrise or a sunset there are often hordes of photographers lined along the railing shooting the wonderful, fantastically colorful clouds and ocean.
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And although I am certain that you, the image taker, will love these pictures you will be in the minority!
Washington_State_FerryBut, if you can add something near chances are your image will be much more alluring!

Next time you’re out at a scenic place make sure you bring your wide angle lens and hunt for interesting things you can include in front of your scenic landscape shot.

I think you will be happy with the result!

Skagit Valley from Sauk Mountain at Sunset

Skagit Valley from Sauk Mountain at Sunset

 

Dandelions and Barn

Dandelions and Barn

Early Morning at Point of the Arches

Early Morning at Point of the Arches

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