Good landscape photography tips to improve your holiday snaps

So what’s the secret of a good landscape photograph? Ask ten photographers and you might expect 10 different answers but you probably would only get two, lighting and composition.

It’s not rocket science, the best landscape pictures are normally taken when the light is at it’s most dramatic, early morning or at sunset. These two lighting situations can turn the simplest composition into a beautiful picture. But most people don’t take the effort to get up and be ready for the dawn light or have the patience to wait for the sunset to reach the exact moment when the light balances perfectly with the scene.


Sunset Carter Bay, New Zealand landscape photography

So as a normal human being going about your normal daily life or enjoying your holiday how can you improve your holiday landscape shots, you know what happens, you see a great view, you take your picture and when you look at the picture on screen later it has no impact, no depth, no zing. What t do/

Composition traditionally has rules in art, simple rules that generally work to make a picture look right. The first you’ll probably know is the rule of thirds. Divide the overall image into thirds and try and put some strong element of the image either on the thirds or better still at the intersection of a vertical and lateral third.

In a good landscape photography shot example would be to place a tree in the foreground on the line of the thirds, even better if a branch helps frame the image laterally in the top third.


Arthurs Pass, New Zealand landscape photography

Another think that adds interest to a landscape is scale, placing a person on the thirds in the foreground will add depth to that flat and disappointing image. They don’t need to be looking back towards the camera, sometimes it’s more interesting if they are looking at the view too.

So depth is an important factor in making that landscape more interesting. This can be enhanced by perspective, a close object will always add depth but remember most people take an image from about five feet off the ground. Your picture will immediately be more interesting if it’s taken from a different height, close to the ground for example is always more interesting.


Beach Blossom, New Zealand landscape photography

But what to do about that lack of interesting light in an image? Well, luckily we all shoot digitally these days , a boon to landscape photography in particular and it has opened up a plethora of options to make your boringly lit shot more interesting.

First of all, those weak and faded blue or grey skies can be enhanced with a graduated filter to intensify the cloud area, this can be done in most photo software like Photoshop and Lightroom.

Next you can increase the colour saturation, this can make the greyest days look interesting and moody.

Even cropping your landscape photography picture to a more dramatic shape can add drama. Cropping large areas of sky to make a more panoramic shaped image always seems to give more drama, it’s harder to make a square or 10×8 ratio image look as dynamic.


Loch Leven, Scotland, landscape photography

Remember, taking the picture is only the first step, a digitally stored image is never a reminder or appreciated. Take your best pictures and have them printed and displayed whether as a wall mounted work of art or as a snap shot in your wallet that gets seen everyday. Pictures are meant to be seen not stored.


Brian Russell

Copyright April 2015.