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Improve your landscape composition

How to compose a landscape

In photography there is not only the rule of thirds to know in your landscape composition. The composition is how you place the elements of your scene in your photo, and it can be from people or natural objects to negative spaces. Also it’s important at the moment to choose a composition to pay attention to how we will use the available light.

As we explain in our article about the rule of thirds, the rules are important to know, but there is no set of principles (or tools) it can be defined as right or not. In the same way, you do not need to use always all rules to make your photo better. The important is to use these principles or rules in your composition according to the feeling you want to capture in your photo.

If you read our article about tips for travel photography, you will see that here are similar points. This post is based in composition for landscapes, there you will find all kind of tips to improve all kind of travel photographies.

What is the focal point of your photo?

Sound basic, but the first that we need to think to compose our photo is the focal point of it. Don’t miss to make always this question to yourself, because if the reply its all the scene your photo will not show anything special in particular.

Once you know what is your focal point, you will choose the other elements to compose your photo. So first thing you must do is always ask yourself what are you photographing.

In the examples below, there is no doubts what is the main subject…no?

Photo Tour Scotland Highlands Castle Eilean Donan

Weight in your landscape composition

Another important principle, is to balance your composition. Sometimes can be easy to balance as in the example below. The distribution of the two fishermen placed at the same distance from the borders gives a visual same weight on the photo.

But we know that in landscape not will be as easy as this example. One way to balance the weight of the photo is by using the human factor. In this example, the image without the person in the right will “feel down”.

Composition

Another important point to pay attention it’s the use of the shadows. Usually shadows have more weight than the lights. In this case, using a person person to balance the weight in the lights is also, a good tool to compensate your composition.

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Getting Visual Flow

Give to your landscape composition a visual flow, helps the viewer a path to look through your photo. The typical example is the use of lines that helps the eye to go to your focal point.

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But these lines do not have to be always straight. It can be curves or zigzags as an example.

Scottish Highlands Photo Tour Neist Cliff

Also the use of patterns or a repetition of elements, helps the eye to enter in the image.

landscape-composition

Use the depth of field

Usually we will compose our landscape with three elements: the foreground, midground, and background. In the next example, you can see as the grass & tree in the foreground makes the frame to the scene. The focal point in the midground and the windmill in the background.

netherlands-photo-tour

But sometimes our scenes can be easier. In these cases, we will need to pay attention to colors and lights, to create depth in our images. In this example, the light colors of the background, create the necessary volume to our minimalistic scene.

Hokkaido-photography-workshop

Also, our scene can have much more than 3 levels. In this cases, we will need to pay attention to the distribution of the elements. As you can see in the next image, the tree that is in foreground merge with a tree in the midground. This makes that our image, doesnt have all the depth that the scene need.

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Frame your image

Framing your image, is probably one of the most important things you should think at the moment you compose your landscape.

One of the easiest examples to explain is the use of trees in blue skies, as we explained in our post about travel photography.

viaje fotografico myanmar Mingun

You can also, use other elements to frame your photographs as the grass, mountains…any element that focus your view in the focal point.

lapland-photo-tour_landscape

And not only elements, will help you to frame your images. Also shadows & lights can create a frame around your focal point. The negative spaces will frame your images as well.

viaje-fotografico-Hokkaido

Display the size of your landscape

When we are in front of a landscape, it is hard to show the real scale of the scene. The use of wide angles with elements in the foreground will modify the dimensions.

Scottish Highlands Photo Tour Etive_Mor

Adding elements that are easily recognized with certain dimensions, will help your viewers to give the real size of your landscape.

Altai Kurai photo workshop

Use all together in your landscape composition

As you could see along with the post, some images have different tools to help the composition. Try to think about all these points, at the moment you are composing your landscapes. The result will be powerful photographs, with a strong focal point, correct weight, easy visual flow, and depth.

We hope that this post helps you to improve landscapes, try to internalize these steps and put them in practice. Enjoy photography!

Eduardo Fuster
About the author

Eduardo Fuster is a Spanish photographer based in Russia. Graduate in Art & Design and specialized in video & photography. More than 15 years of experience working for advertisement, tv, cinema, real estate & stock agencies.

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