The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

    | Landscape | Photography Tips | 28/03/2012 11:09am

    Commandment 3: Use the Rule of Thirds

    Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

    Image copyright Angela Nicholson

    The rule of thirds was first employed in painting, and it’s also really useful for helping to compose photographs. It uses the fact that, generally speaking, we prefer to look at non-symmetrical images, and it helps us to work out the perfect arrangements of elements within a shot.

    Using the rule of thirds is simple but effective. When you’re composing an image, try to imagine that it’s divided up into three equal horizontal sections and three vertical sections (see our 10 rules of photo composition – and why they work).

    Many cameras have a grid view that will make this a lot easier to visualise, but you may need to shoot using live view rather than the viewfinder to see it.

    As you frame the image in front of you, try to arrange key elements along one of the lines or ‘thirds’, and where possible, position important features where the lines intersect each other.

    With a landscape this could mean arranging the composition so that one third of the image contains sky, while the lower two thirds contain the land. Other elements, such as a tree in the foreground or a distant spire, can then be positioned where a vertical and a horizontal line cross.

    Learn even more about how to use the Rule of Thirds.

    Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

    Image copyright Zak Kendal

    Break The Rules: Shoot symmetrically
    Using the rule of thirds can help prevent your image from looking like a random snapshot, but there are times when the subject really cries out for symmetry, and breaking the rule can add impact.

    If you decide to go for a symmetrical composition, it’s essential to pay attention to every little detail so that the image is balanced and there’s nothing on one side that will distract the viewer’s attention.

    Symmetrical images often work well when they are square because the symmetrical frame emphasises the uniformity of the image.

    If your camera doesn’t allow you to see different aspect ratios in live view mode, use the L-shaped pieces of card we mentioned earlier to help you compose a square shot.

    Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

    Image copyright Paul Grogan

    Go to extremes
    There are times when it pays to shift the balance of the composition to extremes so that one element of the scene dominates the image.

    This could mean shooting with a tiny slither of land in the shot with a huge expanse of blue sky above for example, or conversely, with just a tiny amount of sky above the land. It can make quite a statement.

    Always take a good look at the scene before you, and weigh up which are the most important elements and where the real interest lies.

    If there’s a winding footpath that leads to a statue on the brow of a hill for instance, the journey up the hill is of more interest than the sky above the statue, so just include a small strip of sky.

    Commandment 1: Shoot during the golden hour
    Commandment 2: Use a wideangle lens
    Commandment 3: Use the Rule of Thirds
    Commandment 4: Find foreground interest
    Commandment 5: Use a steady tripod
    Commandment 6: Focus one third in
    Commandment 7: Balance the exposure
    Commandment 8: Boost greens and blues
    Commandment 9: Use a narrow aperture
    Commandment 10: Use a low ISO setting


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    Posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 11:09 am under Landscape, Photography Tips.

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