Three styles of landscape photography are recognized - representational, impressionistic and abstract. The representational style is also known as the straight or straight descriptive style. This style results in pictures that show scenery at its most natural and realistic, with no visual manipulation or artifice. It is a straightforward style - what you see is what you get. Successful images in the representational style are not simple snapshots. Although the photographer adds no props or other components to a scene and does not try to bend reality, great attention is paid to composition and detail. Light, timing and the weather are critical elements. The impressionistic landscape photographer employs photographic techniques that result in images that have vague or elusive qualities. They are less tangible and more unreal, while still retaining their values that make them landscape pictures. The viewer is given the impression of a landscape rather than the clear reality of one. This style - Abstract - could also probably be referred to as the graphic style, since the components of scenery are treated by the photographer as graphic elements, arranged for their compositional values. Natural elements may be rendered as unrecognizable or almost so. Shape and form take priority. Elements may be juxtapositioned for comparison or contrast, isolated by extreme close-up, reduced to silhouettes by severe underexposure, and so on. Design is more important than recognizable representation.
The quick tips are not essential to every landscape picture you take, but bearing them in mind and applying them judiciously will improve your picture-taking. A foreground object will help to frame the scene and add a look of three-dimensionality. Frame the scene so that it contains a center of interest - an object that draws the viewer s eye into the picture. Placing the center of interest off-center, in accordance with the Rule of Thirds, will create a harmonious composition. Placing the horizon a third of the way down from the top or bottom of the frame is usually much better than having it in the middle of the scene. Scale can often be important to the understanding of a landscape, and can be achieved by including an object of a known size in the scene. People, animals or other recognizable objects that would naturally belong in the scene are suitable for showing scale. The quality of lighting is perhaps the most influential attribute of a successful landscape. Waiting for interesting lighting that is moody, dramatic or diffused usually pays off in a memorable photograph. Ensure that your camera s flash is turned off when shooting landscapes, unless you require it to brighten a foreground object. Flash in a dusty, misty or foggy scene may cause flare by reflecting off the droplets of moisture or dust particles. Use a tripod to ensure sharpness, especially in low-light conditions. In very low light, be sure to select a fast film speed or a high digital camera s ISO setting that will permit proper exposure and good depth of field. Watch for unsightly or unnatural elements such as overhead wires, hydrants, poles and garbage cans, especially in the foreground. If you cannot easily move them, reposition yourself to a camera angle that eliminates them from the frame. Don t let the weather stop you from capturing an attractive landscape. Rain can add a degree of softness and peacefulness to a scene. On an overcast day, be sure your scene has an area of color in it to counteract the overall dull lighting. Keep the rules of composition in mind when framing a scene. Lines, in particular, can be a strong factor in making an interesting landscape. Landscape photography is often more horizontal than it is vertical, presenting the opportunity to shoot a panorama. If you are faced with a wide vista and your camera has a panorama mode, this is the time to select it. Cropping afterwards can achieve a similar purpose. When the wind is blowing or water is moving - waves, waterfalls, a tumbling brook - capturing that movement by using a slow shutter speed to create blur can add great interest to a landscape. When selecting a slow shutter speed, be sure you retain proper exposure by also appropriately adjusting your camera s aperture. Many cameras will do this automatically for you in Shutter Priority mode.