Representing the Scene in Landscape Photography
Finding the best way of representing the scene on your photograph follows after you have your camera and your tripod ready and you are sure that you have found the best viewpoint for the scene. This has a big impact on the success of your results!
If you have an object standing out in your intended picture, this will have an impact on representing the scene. A good starting point might be to decide where you want to place it on your frame. For instance, a significant rocky outcrop in your image might be less distracting, or contributing to a better composition, in the bottom left corner.
One option for representing the scene is to follow the rule of thirds. This rule states that a photograph is more pleasing to the eye if subjects are positioned on the points where lines dividing the photograph in three parts (horizontally and vertically) intersect. Phew! What a mouthful. However, rules are there to be broken and I often find that if the subject is placed anywhere but squarely in the middle of the frame, it is possible to produce a pleasing picture.
I even have pleasing photographs where the main attraction is squarely in the middle of the image…
Once you have identified where to position objects making up your picture, you can decide whether you want to keep your camera in the landscape or the portrait position. Generally for landscape photography the landscape position will work better (yes, I did figure that out all by myself!). Plus with the widely used 35mm camera the landscape position feels “right” and the camera fits ones’ hands better when held like this.
However, the portrait camera position might produce a more aesthetically pleasing photograph if the subject has a vertical emphasis. Turning your camera 90º will work well for photographing trees, waterfalls or other subjects that fit the frame better in the portrait camera position.
For landscape photography, the placement of the horizon on your picture is important. It is not advised that the horizon divides your picture in two equal halves. This is not very pleasing, and might even be branded as boring. Shifting the horizon up or down into the picture produces a much more interesting result, while placing the emphasis on the sky or the land respectively.
If you have a not-so-exciting blue (or gray) sky without any clouds, it would be better to shift the horizon up, and to place more emphasis on the land. However, if you have a stunning, colourful sky with dramatic clouds and lighting, do not hesitate to shift your horizon right down to the bottom of the picture.
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