What comes to mind when you hear the term Landscape Photography? For most, they envision sweeping mountain vistas, fields full of flowers, or the sun setting over a glistening sea. While all of these are, by definition, landscape photographs, they aren’t the only examples. While there is no cut and dry definition of Landscape Photography; consensus agrees that the main subject of a landscape photograph is nature itself.
Like most photography, landscape photographs should draw the viewer into the scene by telling them a story. Because of the vast depth of field used, landscape photographs are typically filled with details. Those details should grab the viewer’s interest, making them peruse the photograph intently, pausing along the way to appreciate the beauty in the details. At first glance, the viewer often will not see the full story. A successful landscape photograph brings them back to the image to look through it again and again. How many times did you look over the above image before you noticed the flock of birds above the clouds?
Landscape photographs aren’t necessarily devoid of human subjects. The images which include human subjects typically show them interacting with and appreciating the landscape in some way. Human forms in landscapes are often silhouettes, backlit by the sun to make their shape recognizable, but their identity indistinguishable. This anonymity allows the viewer to place herself in the image, imagining what it would be like to stand where the human subject is standing.
Most landscape photographers are also amateur weather people. They watch the forecast each day, hoping for just the right amount of clouds in the sky to make it interesting. Often, the clouds themselves become a primary subject in a landscape photograph. My goal in the above photograph was to photograph the battleship, but once the sun began setting behind the clouds, I knew my focus had shifted to capturing the entire scene before me. Conditions change quickly in landscape photography, often for the better; a fog rolling in can add eeriness to a setting sun, a rainbow can form across from where your camera is pointed. A landscape photographer must always be alert to the changing conditions and ready to adapt to the new situation.
When others are still snuggled in bed, a landscape photographer rises before the sun, arriving on location to be in place as the sunlight begins to fill the sky. Likewise, a landscape photographer will skip out on dinner plans because the sky is setting up just right for an amazing sunset. While many successful landscape images have been taken when it was convenient for the photographer, more often than not, the photographer is on the landscape’s schedule. We recognize the sky as blue, but only as the sun rises and sets, can you see a rainbow of colors.
Not all landscape photography happens in a beautiful national park or a coastal shoreline. The above image was taken in my backyard one morning as I saw the sun lighting the sky and the moon still hanging around from the night before. Chances are, nature is displaying something beautiful just outside of your front door; and if not, add it! My backyard has an extensive butterfly garden and two bird feeders. I removed the screens to make shooting through the windows easier.
A landscape photographer always carries at least one camera to capture the unexpected beauty surrounding her. You never know when you’ll see the perfect sunset, a beautiful flower, or a field of buttercups. I was on my way to the grocery store when I took the above image. It’s better to stop and take the photograph when you see it, than to plan to come back to it. You can revisit a location, but the conditions will never be the same.
WEEK 11 CHALLENGE: This week your challenge is to go out and photograph the world around you! Use Jennifer's tips to strengthen your landscape images (no people this week :) ) and to try and focus on what you want to convey with your image! Go like the Kensie M Photography Facebook Page and post your favorite from the week there! We can’t wait to see what you are working on. And remember we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
Jennifer Carr is a fine art photographer located in Virginia Beach, VA. With a passion for documenting the beautiful world around her, she incorporates her love of nature into both her landscape and portrait photographs. Married to an adventure sports junkie, Jennifer constantly finds herself in locations more beautiful than the last, camera in hand, planning to capture something amazing. You can view her work at www.jennifercarrphotography.