We’ve all had a landscape moment, when the sheer beauty of a place, over whelms you. You have to get the camera out and take that picture. Later on when you look at the image you’ve taken, it’s a bit disappointing; it doesn’t look, anything like you remember.
Don’t worry; it’s not you or your camera. It’s a common landscape problem. A camera sees everything all at once, then records it faithfully. We humans on the other hand, see with our brain. Our eyes gather information, then our brain processes it. What we see, is in fact more to do with the processing power of our brains, than our eyes.
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Think of it, as looking at the raw ingredients of a cake; flour, eggs, sugar and butter. The sponge you take out of the oven; bears no resemblance to what you started with. Welcome to the world landscape photography or cake baking.
We have to trick our brains, into thinking they are looking at a scene again. Give the image some depth. Your stereoscopic vision gave the original scene depth. Because the picture is flat, we lose that ability. But; what we can do is to add a bit of foreground interest. Something close to the camera, a person, tree or rock can give your image a sense of scale. Our brains know how big the foreground object should be in real life, therefore the small mountains in the background must be huge.
Human brains, get bored easily. We scan a print or screen very quickly. The brain; then starts looking around at other things. When you stood in the landscape, your brain was kept busy. Add a strong feature known as a leading line to your image, like a road, water, fence or a line of strong colour. Make sure it runs from the foreground, out towards the distance. Our brains now have something to focus on; your eyes will follow the leading line, to see where it goes. The beauty is your brain, will keep doing this. It prevents it from getting bored and keeps it looking at the image. As it continues to look at the image, it relaxes; feels more serene and the picture makes us feel happy. And we like feeling happy, it results in us becoming attached to the image or remembering it.
Another trick is; only show a little bit of the landscape you saw. Stand in a landscape without moving your head; we see proximally 114 degrees in total, 60 degrees with each eye. Of that 60 degrees, only the centre 15 degrees is in very sharp focus. The landscape we think we see; is made up of a few sharp bits but most of it is blurry. Our brains produce what we think we see. A camera on the other hand with a wide-angle lens, records what is in front of it, in prefect detail. Unfortunately, you are not used to seeing landscapes this way.
A tip is to zoom into a detail, like a single mountain or lake. When someone looks at your image they will believe it was all that you saw. Only you know that it is a small detail in a much larger vista. Many a great landscape picture; has been taken without the use of a wide-angle lens.
Don’t forget the rule of thirds, when you are taking your landscape image. Try putting the horizon on one of the lines of the thirds, not in the middle. If you have a foreground interest, try and put this on one of the thirds crossing points. Or put point of interest in the background on a third crossing point.
Keep in mind, light plays such an important role in landscape photography. The best light is normally to be had either an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. So, a trusty alarm clock and a flask of strong coffee will help when out taking landscapes.
That’s it for this one. Short on time but want Maximum impact on social media – look out for our next blog in our “How To” series. Can’t wait that long? Our personal training covers all aspects of photography helping you make a good first impression and click here stand out from the crowd.
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