8 Tips To Improve Your Landscape Photography Composition in 2021

2020 was not an easy year for most photographers. Lockdowns may have kept you from photographing the great outdoors. It was not business as usual.

So, here are some tips to get you back in the groove of landscape photography for the remainder of 2021, and beyond.

Don’t get stuck with horizontals

The majority of landscape images are horizontal frames. It is good practice to also use the vertical (portrait) frame. The main reason for this would be for image variation.

There are certain compositions better suited to vertical frames. To be safe, a landscape photographer can shoot both a vertical and horizontal of a scene. By doing this you will have options in your post-processing.

alt="vertical frames for landscape photography"
Shoot verticals and horizontal frames for variety in post-processing. Photo by Crowpix Media

Be careful when using ultra-wide angle lenses

Ultra-wide angle lenses cause image distortion. Distortion can exist in the foreground, background, and the subject of the image. For example, the fish in the foreground can look larger than the ocean in the background. This is an unnatural representation of reality.

Lines and objects near the side and corners can also become distorted. Check for distortion when using wide angle lenses to avoid these unnatural appearances in your images.

alt="distortion of wide angle lens"
This image shows the distortion in the foreground subject (the fish) and the distortion of the horizon line. Photo by Crowpix Media

Keep it simple stupid

KISS – keep it simple stupid.

The KISS model is a much promoted concept in the creative world. This acronym also applies to photographic composition. The basic premise is that you should remove any unnecessary distractions and keep the composition neat.

Compose and frame for simplicity in your photo. Don’t overcomplicate the composition. Think simplicity.

alt="keep it simple stupid composition landscape photography"
The above image is simple and free of distraction in the background. Photo by Crowpix Media

Use elements in the scene to add depth

Photographs with depth are almost always more appealing. Try to place objects in a manner that adds depth to the composition. Place objects in different areas of a composition that run a long line through the image. Add a long depth of field in your aperture setting to create this sense of depth.

Remember to use a tripod for stability and sharpness when using a smaller apertures to achieve depth of field.

alt="add layers to your composition to create depth in landscape photography"
The mountain ridges create “layers” that add a sense of depth. Photo by Crowpix Media

Use tighter framing

Pay attention to framing. In my early days of photography, a mentor taught me to “get in tight with your composition.” Filling the frame is an effective composition technique. Zoom in, or, move yourself closer to the main subject, if possible.

If you are unsure how to frame, or compose a shot, get close to the subject to reveal details in the image. Getting closer to your subject will help remove any distractions in the frame.

Look for natural elements within the scene that can frame your subject.

alt="zoom in on your subject for detail photographs"
Zooming in on the subject makes this image striking by bringing out the detail. Photo by Crowpix Media

Take advantage of leading lines

Look for foreground elements that lead up towards the main subject. This can be a path, a river, a lodge, a field of flowers or even clouds. There’s a good chance that these leading lines will make a big difference in an otherwise average image.

The image below demonstrates a number of leading lines that lead the eye to the subject (the person walking along the beach). The shoreline, the sand’s edge, and the footsteps are examples of leading lines pointing to the subject. The light coming in from the right hand corner of the frame is also a leading line that points to the subject.

Avoid leading lines where the subject falls out the edge of the frame.

Remember that leading lines are not always lines but can also be a change in colour or contrast for example.

alt="leading lines make a photograph striking and lead the eye"
There are multiple leading lines that guide the eye to the off-centre subject. The ridge on the sand, the shoreline, and the footsteps in the sand are clear examples of leading lines. Photo by Crowpix Media

Panoramic images are awesome

Panoramas bring a different perspective to landscape photography. Panoramas need extra equipment, such as a stable tripod, and some technical know-how. Panoramas are generally not difficult to execute. Practice makes perfect.

Panoramas consists of vertical, or horizontal, frames that form a logical sequence of frames. These frames must overlap each other at the time of shooting.

Use a tripod with markings from 0 to 360 degree angles to control the capture process.

Software is then used to stitch the frames into a complete panorama at post-processing. Photoshop or other third party software can perform this task. The software can stitch a panorama automatically ,or manually, depending on your level of expertise.

alt="a panorama can be a new approach to landscape photography composition"
A panorama can be a fresh approach and something new to learn when looking for inspiration. Photo by Crowpix Media

Step out of your usual photography routine

Sometimes photographer’s lose their desire for landscape photography. This is common, especially in long-term photographers.

If you feel this way, you may want to consider changing things up. Do things you’ve never done before. Try a new lens or shoot a new landscape that you never shot before. Try shooting long exposure landscapes, or star trails, for example.

Learning something new in your landscape photography can bring new challenges. These should reignite passion within you.

If you have a chronic case of photography fatigue, take a complete break from shooting. Use the time-out to contemplate the ways you can reinvigorate your creative flow.

Sometimes a hiatus can be the elixir to your photography ideas and compositions.

In Conclusion

I hope that the above tips help bring success to your landscape photography dreams and goals.

Please subscribe to receive more great photography tutorials, tips and content. And please share my work if you like.

That’s a wrap, for now.

Happy shooting.

This post was originally posted on Crowpix Digital.

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