2/52: This week’s assignment is all about landscapes. Sure it’s not even a month into winter, there’s no foliage to speak of, and those colors that are so magical during the spring and summer are non-existent. Thus the challenge. It is the job of the photographer to create compelling, well thought out, and captivating images regardless the time of year or conditions. The focus this week is composition.
A few composition techniques you might find in landscape photography can be the rule of thirds, balance, symmetry, and leading lines. They can either be used independently of each other, or for those images with a really strong composition, used together.
Using the rule of thirds, the scene is broken down into nine equal sections, and key elements of that scene are placed at the intersecting lines of those sections. On most cameras, the LCD screen can be set, using the menu, to display the third lines to help get everything lined up where you want it. Eventually, you will begin to "see" the scene and won't need to rely on the grid on the LCD nearly as much.
Including leading lines in your image will take the viewer on a visual journey and give the image a certain "feel" to it. For example, vertical lines create a feeling of power or majesty, and a sense of strength. Diagonal lines can give an image a sense of excitement or adventure, and add a dynamic element. Horizontal lines can give an image a more relaxed feel, or a sense of expansiveness. Leading lines can be blatantly obvious, such as a stream, road, fence(s), or terrain feature (hills, valleys, spurs, ridges, etc.); but can also be less obvious, or even implied such as rock formations, vegetation growth patterns, objects, or even light, fog, or clouds.
In the case of symmetry and balance, adding elements (or even removing elements) can give an image visual balance. As an example, take a look at the images below. With just the mountain composed to one side, the image feels visually heavy to that particular side. This causes my eyes to be drawn to that specific spot with nothing to keep them from losing interest and falling off the image. Including the tree and a bit of shoreline on the left (while some would argue it could be a distraction) adds some balance to the image.
Clean the dust bunnies from your sensors and lenses. Check out the links below for a decent read or two. Grab your gear, dress appropriately, and get out there! Above all...have fun!
TIP: Use a narrow aperture (f/11 or more) to create a wider depth of field so the image is acceptably in focus from front to rear (foreground to background), and include some foreground interest.