100. Develop a signature
When you look at a photograph you like, try and unravel it to learn what it is about the image that you like. Take a workshop or a private one to one with a landscape photographer you admire. Aim to develop your own personal style.
101. Shoot the Blue Hour
If you like moody landscapes, wait past the Golden Hour (or arrive before the morning Golden Hour) and shoot in the Blue Hour; the cool, blue tones add an air of tranquillity and mystery.
102. Make use of bad weather
Although some weather is nearly impossible to shoot in, overcast and dull days present plenty of opportunities. For example, head to the coast and shoot long exposures with an ‘extreme’ ND filter, or go to the woods where the soft lighting will keep contrast low and allow you to capture plenty of detail.
103. Explore new locations
On days when the light and weather are poor, invest some time in scouting new locations. Check out viewpoints and potential compositions and you’ll have something to look forward to when the light is good.
104. Highlight the focal point
Most landscapes benefit from having a clear focal point and compositions are strengthened if you exploit natural features to lead the eye to it. Lines such as rivers and paths are ideal, and objects pointing in from the corners direct attention into the frame.
105. Shoot a project
To boost motivation, shoot a project where you concentrate on one type of subject or technique – for example, shooting only monochrome or with a single focal length.
106. Be flexible
We often plan shoots with a particular viewpoint or composition in mind. Don’t let this close your mind to other opportunities; be prepared to react to the conditions and go off plan.
107. Add a sense of place
Many landscape photographs are anonymous; try to include features in your compositions that identify your location and add a sense of place.
108. Break the rules
Most photographers are familiar with the ‘rules’ of composition, such as the Rule of Thirds, Golden Section and so on. They work well, but can be a little constraining. Don’t just break them for the sake of it, however – know when this will work, for example, when a scene naturally lends itself to symmetry.
109. Less is more
The best compositions are often the simplest. Composition is a reductive process – starting with everything in front of you, exclude any items from the frame that do not enhance the mood you’re trying to evoke.
110. Enjoy the process
Slow down and make sure that you enjoy the experience of being out in the landscape with your camera. Your images will really benefit as a result.
111. Ignore the forecast
The most dramatic light is often in marginal conditions. Forecasts can tell us that, for example, it will be cloudy, but they can’t predict things like small gaps in the cloud, which can let light through and transform a scene. So head out whatever the forecast.
112. Try a new technique
It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over again. To add some variety to your landscapes, consciously try out something different – whether that’s night shots, cityscapes, long exposures… anything you’ve not tried before, to kickstart your creativity.
113. Use long focal lengths
It’s easy to get obsessed with wide angles; don’t ignore the possibilities offered by telephotos for focusing on shape, pattern and texture, as well as their ability to compress perspective and created layered landscapes.
114. Look for shapes
Instead of only looking at the details in a landscape, look at the overall shapes that are being made; for example, a group of rocks may form a triangle or a line of trees may create an ‘S’ curve. How shapes interact with each other helps to create balance, harmony and mood in a composition.
115. Respect the environment
Don’t be tempted to trample over wild flowers or do other damage to get your shot; the environment is always more important than your photograph.
116. Use foreground interest effectively
Getting in close to foreground objects with a wide-angle lens is an effective technique for enhancing the perception of depth in a scene. However, don’t just set up in front of the nearest big rock – choose foregrounds that connect with the rest of the scene.
117. Learn your kit
Spend time familiarising yourself with your camera and accessory controls. Being able to change settings quickly and instinctively allows you to concentrate on composition, without the camera ‘getting in the way’.
118. Anticipate the light
Great light is fleeting and you must be ready to shoot before it happens, or you’ll miss it. So for example, to capture a rainbow, you’ll need to stand in the rain waiting for it to clear. Observe carefully and predict how conditions will develop.
119. Choose the right height
Camera height has a huge impact on composition. High viewpoints help to separate planes and key elements in the composition, therefore creating depth. Low viewpoints can reduce separation and therefore depth, but can be necessary if there is little interest in the middle distance.
120. Use double distance focusing
If shooting with a wide-angle lens and a smallish aperture, this technique will help you to maximise depth of field and without complicated hyperfocal distance calculations. Estimate the distance from the camera to the nearest object you want to keep sharp and set focus at double that distance.
All words: Mark Bauer