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Landscape Photography - Steps to Improve

How many times have you been driving and wanted to stop and take a shot of that breathtaking landscape. You then stop, look around and the shot even looks better. Your heart even skips a beat. You go for it and return to the car with a huge smile.

When you get back home you download your pictures, process them and then you find out that what you shot was not what you placed your eyes on. What went wrong? Well its simple your lens and the sensor of your camera do not work like your eyes and your brain does. You select different parts of the scene and produce beauty out of them, your sensor doesn’t.

So what do you now? For landscape photography you need time and a couple of tips, follow them, practice and your shots will improve.
The general rule for landscape photography is to keep as much of the scene in focus as possible. This means that you have to maximize the Depth of Field or DOF. In other words you have to choose a small aperture setting (remember small in this case means a large number) to obtain a greater Depth of Field. The greater the DOF is the more focus you will achieve. This also means that your shutter will stay open more than it would normally be.
Since you are now using a longer shutter speed to maximize your Depth of Field you need to ensure that your camera is stable and not shaking. The best thing to do is to use a tripod and a cable or wireless shutter release mechanism. Doing so your camera will not shake and your photo will be not blur.
Decide what your central point will be, what is your subject, where is it, what size is it, does it have enough contrast with the rest of the picture and how does its shape compare to the rest of the composition. Your central point, know as Focal Point, is what will make your shot stand out and not allow the eyes of the viewer to wonder. The Focal Point in landscape photography can take the shape of many different things, a building, a tree, a rock, a person, etc. The placement of your subject is very important, use the rules of composition for this purpose.

Your horizon is the next step to consider and an important one. Make sure your horizon is straight and in the lower third or the top third of the photo. The rule of thirds applies very well to landscape photography.
Now look for lines in your shot. Lines are a way to guide the eye. It gives your image a sense of direction. Lines should direct the viewer towards your subject. A line can be road, a river, shoreline, mountain edges, etc.

Another element of your landscape composition that can create an amazing landscape shot is a foreground object, this creates depth in your shot and prevents it from being flat. The foreground will help you balance your image.
When possible convey and transmit the movement that you see, wind, water, moving clouds, a bird. A static image is less dramatic than one that showcases movement, it ads drama, mood and creates a point of interest.
Shoot landscapes either early morning or at dusk, light is the best at this point and colors, textures, patterns will pop out and impact your image.

Take your time before taking the final shot. Try different points of view. The same image will look completely different if you go lower or if you go higher. So walk around, climb a little, get on your knees or in a ditch. You will be surprise at what you see.