Landscape Photography Composition Tips to Improve Your Photos Right Now
Of all the factors that go into taking better landscape photos, perhaps one of the easiest to improve is your approach to composition. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of changing your perspective to get a much better shot. Other times getting closer to a landscape subject will do the trick. In most cases, it’s an easy fix.
With that in mind, here are a few landscape photography composition tips that will help you elevate the quality of your photos.
Landscape Photography Composition Tip: Shoot through Something
By shooting through something and using it as a frame within the frame, you create a landscape photo with much more dimension. That is, with the foreground frame out of focus and the subject sharply in focus, the viewer has a better understanding of the depth of the scene.
Plant life is the perfect feature to use as a frame within a frame in a landscape photo. That’s because many plants have pleasing colors and textures that add more visual interest to the shot. When using this landscape photography composition tip, remember that you don’t want too much of the plant or other frame protruding too far into the image.
The key is to have enough of the frame within the frame showing to give the shot more depth, but without obscuring the primary subject.
Use Reflections to Your Advantage
Where using a frame within a frame can help bring more dimension to your photos, incorporating reflections can help bring balance to your shots. When you find an opportunity to photograph a reflection, break with convention and place the horizon in the middle of the frame. Doing so violates the rule of thirds, but in this case it will help you create that balanced shot you’re after.
With the top half of the photo comprised of the actual landscape and the bottom half comprised of its perfect reflection, the result can be a breathtaking example of symmetry from top to bottom.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the eye level of your reflection shots, either. Try dropping down low to see how that changes the composition!
Shop around for Shots
It’s easy to get sucked into the crowd of photographers that have all gathered at one spot to take a stab at photographing an iconic view. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting a photo from that common area, you do yourself and your photos a disservice by not shopping around for shots.
That is, get off the beaten path (if possible, and safely!) and explore the area around you to see what other vantage points open up for photos of well-known areas (and lesser-known areas, too).
Not only does this help you develop your eye for composition, but it also gets you away from the throngs of photographers competing for space. Additionally, you just don’t know what other opportunities exist for taking amazing landscape photos if you don’t try, right?
How to Take Better Landscape Photos: Use a Tripod
I’m a firm believer that it’s not the gear that makes the photographer, but the knowledge, skills, and talent that do. Having said that, there’s no denying that having the right gear enables you to take much better shots.
For landscape photographers, there’s certainly a lot of appeal in carrying as little gear as possible due to the long walks and hikes that are sometimes necessary to get to the locations you wish to photograph. And while going lean and mean is certainly a great way to approach landscape photography, not having a tripod with you is a big no-no in my book.
There’s tons of reasons for this, too. A tripod helps slow you down a little bit so that you have a few moments to survey the landscape, think about your composition, and set up the shot for success.
Additionally, a tripod like the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263AGH shown above and below gives your camera the stability it needs to get sharp images, but without bogging you down with tons of weight.
That’s because this tripod weighs just 5.5 pounds and folds down to less than 27 inches.
You can easily lash a tripod that small to your camera backpack and walk for hours without feeling like you’re going to collapse under a heavy load of gear.
What’s more, this tripod is made of magnesium and aircraft aluminum, so not only is it ultra-light but it’s also incredibly strong and durable.
You definitely want something that will last when you put it through its paces out in nature.
And I know what you’re thinking…tripods slow you down too much. What if you miss a shot? Well, all I can say is that if you get the right tripod, you won’t miss any shots. This Vanguard model sets up in a matter of seconds so you can get your shots quickly.
There’s tons of features to help you compose better photos, too – a bubble level for straight horizons, multiple leg lock positions to get low-angle shots, a 3-way fluid panhead for taking smooth video or panoramic photos, and a canopy suspension loop to act as ballast when the wind kicks up.