A great place to begin your landscape photography experience is a place that inspires you. A place that you absolutely love will make it easier for you to connect with the scene and make the scene look as good as possible. If you don’t live near the Swiss Alps or a Tropical Island and live in the city like me, with no special scenery around, then you’re in for a drive. As you are driving to your special location don’t hurry, just take a relaxed pace, and when you get there completely relax and reflect creatively on the surroundings. Then think about what you would like to see in a photograph. Really look at the scene and examine it in this way.
Getting into this relaxed and reflective frame of mind will help you relax and take better landscape photos because your mind will be able to concentrate on getting a good picture. Then you will tend to take shots where they enhance the scene, rather than just take ‘snaps’. Your special scene is a chance to create a magnificent piece of art with your digital camera.
The landscape pictures I’ve seen that don’t work visually are those with too much in the photograph. A nice beach can be ruined by several ships, houses on the bay, hard light, people displaced in the photo and so forth. Such a crowded picture can be quite distracting. So if you want ‘wow’ shots, then use less distraction in the shot, and go for a composition that focuses on simple shapes, lines and forms. If you are doing colour landscape pictures, then look for the colour that stands out the most and ask yourself how you can enhance it with the tools you have available.
Look for a foreground that’s going to have impact on your eye. A good landscape shot has a foreground that is commanding, as if you are magnetized by it and just have to look. Keep the attention on the majesty of the scene rather than things in the background that take the attention away, (leaving you unsure of where to look at the image). When looking at the scene to be photographed for the first time, you want to take notice of the subject in the foreground then see that the area around it (one after the other). The main subject should be the thing with the most presence in the shot.
Remember simplicity is the key, so the context of the scene should not detract from your subject; (make sure the “ski lodge” at the side of the landscape scene doesn’t detract from looking at the mountain range). It must work in with the mountain range, not against it. It must compliment the mountain range. Your subject doesn’t have to be one item like a rock or tree; it can be a sweeping coastline or a huge body of water, a mountain range or a desert scene like the one taken below above by Neil Gould.
Keep taking as many as you can to get as much practice as you can, whilst applying these simple tips.