Every landscape photographer is naturally going to have his own approach to his art. However, there are certain subjects that every serious photographer ought to pursue at some point during his career – especially if he also happens to be a world traveler looking to capture some of our wonderful earth’s most breathtaking settings in person. The following are natural features that should be part of every landscape photographer’s bucket list, along with some tips on how to do them justice on film.
- Sea Coasts
We’ve all seen them – those positively captivating shots of oceans from around the world that perfectly capture the experience of what it means to spend a day at the seaside. Whether you’re talking about the rocky, pebbly coasts of the New England shore or the crystalline, blue waters of the Caribbean, anyone that’s truly considered many different seashores can agree on one thing – each coast has a character.
That said, consider the character of a given coast when you’re deciding on how to photograph it. What “feeling” does the scene around you invoke? Take that into consideration when selecting a time of day or a vantage point from which to shoot. Natural features like palm trees and craggy rocks can provide excellent framing devices as well.
Mountains are another must-shoot natural feature that can convey a multitude of different moods and emotions. As with the seashores, ask yourself as an artist how the mountains you’re shooting make you feel. Are they magical and enchanting? Worn and foreboding? Do they feel old and wise or young, green, and vibrant?
Explore the area in search of an angle that seems most appropriate for capturing the atmosphere of these particular mountains. Look for individual elements that would help reinforce your impression when seen through the eyes of the viewer. Weather and time of day are effective devices for evoking mood as well.
- Flowing Water
Whether it’s a mighty waterfall or a gently babbling brook, it goes without saying that there’s something to be said for the beauty of water in motion. Fantastic landscape photography that uses flowing water as a subject successfully captures its motion and its life force in a single, stationary frame. However, that’s a feat that’s easier imagined than accomplished.
Of course, time of day and angle are very important here. However, reflections are elements that can greatly enhance the impression of many images. Consider reflections that incorporate autumn leaves or particularly profound swatches of sky to draw in other elements of the scene around you. Utilize a polarizing lens to increase contrast and control the effect of the reflection.
Forests are among our world’s most rewarding subjects when it comes to landscape photography. However, they also come along with their own unique set of challenges. Some forests are brooding and ancient while others are bright, open, and airy. Again, look for focal points or unique features that will help you express this mood.
Light shafts penetrating through the canopy from above are also highly effective features to consider when photographing forests. Look for patches of earth artfully lit by the sun or distinctive features like flowering vines, tree stumps, or splashes of color that happen to be catching the light just perfectly. These are the types of images that generate shots to remember.