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Composition Tag

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Shrink Things Down

Tilt-shift lenses are best known in landscape photography for generating extensive depth of field and keeping vertical lines straight. Another use for them is to create the "miniature" effect, where a scene is photographed so that it appears as if a scale model has been shot from close range using a macro lens. This has traditionally been achieved by using the movements of a tilt-shift lens to severely restrict the depth of field in the scene....

Move It

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) is an abstract style of photography where the photographer deliberately moves the camera during the exposure to create an impressionistic interpretation of the landscape. Instead of taking a sharp photograph, you are effectively painting with your camera-nature provides the colors, textures, and interest, and the sensor becomes your canvas....

Lose Focus

Orton first developed the technique in the 1980s in an attempt to imitate watercolor paintings. He did this by sandwiching two slides together of the same composition-one in focus and overexposed, another out of focus and underexposed-to create ethereal results. ...

Speed Up Time

assignment you will be taking a break from shooting conventional still images. To convey time, movement, or change, it is better to capture a time-lapse sequence. This is a technique where you take a series of photos at regular intervals and then combine them into a continuous sequence to create a sped-up version of time....

Make a Starburst

A sun flare or starburst can really add sparkle and impact to your landscape images. This effect shows the sun, or any bright light source, as a near-perfect star, with rays of light radiating from the center. You can capture the effect using almost any camera type, but using an interchangeable lens camera-with adjustable aperture-will give you more control over the look of the final image. ...

Paint With Light

If you enjoy nighttime photography, but have wondered what to do on cloudy evenings, this is the assignment for you. Painting with light is a technique in which you use a flashlight to subtly shine light on a subject, making it stand out from the rest of the scene, which will be in the relative darkness of the ambient light. ...

Shooting Stars

Nighttime photography has become extremely popular because of the excellent low-light performance of modern digital cameras. Your assignment is to head out after dark and shoot the Milky Way, the Northern Lights, and meteor showers! ...

Infrared Fun

Shooting infrared (IR) is a great project for the summer months, when many landscape photographers struggle to find subjects, because of the high sun and harsh, high-contrast light. However, these conditions are perfect for infrared photography, especially black-and-white infrared; blue skies are rendered as a deep black, which contrasts strikingly with clouds, while foliage turns a ghostly white....

Mono Magic

It may not be immediately obvious, but this is an assignment that will help you focus on the fundamentals of composition: shape, line, texture, and contrast. Without the distraction of color, these are the features that become important. They do, in fact, also underpin most color compositions, but in black-and-white they are vital ingredients of a successful shot. ...

Mysterious Mist

Mist will simplify the landscape, reducing it to a series of shapes, layers, and outlines. Your assignment is to capture its effect, and then to select your best single shot. Look for an obvious focal point to either isolate or use as an anchor for your composition-maybe a landmark, boat, animal, or shapely tree. Shooting from a lower level, down amongst the mist, can also produce stunning results....

Heavy Weather

The saying "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing" could be your motto for this assignment. The idea is simply to head out and take some creative shots in bad weather. Of course, "bad weather" will mean different things to different people, but for most landscape photographers it is probably any conditions where the light doesn't create some relief on the landscape....

Beside the Seaside

Seaside resorts are full of picture potential. Artificial structures-such as harbor walls, piers, marker posts, seafront arcades, and jetties-add interest to the natural beauty of the sea and sand. In the summer, resorts tend to be crowded with tourists, making them a tricky place to shoot. However, during wintertime, or in bad weather, coastal resorts tend to be quiet, almost deserted and forlorn....

Capture a Cityscape

For many people, landscape photography is all about getting away from the hustle and bustle of town or city life and spending time somewhere peaceful. However, it may be that by doing so they are ignoring some fantastic opportunities in the form of urban landscapes. ...

Shoot Buildings

There is a beauty in the untouched landscape and many photographers try to avoid including buildings in an attempt to suggest wilderness and isolation. However, human influence on the landscape is extensive and buildings can add a lot to a scene. So, for this assignment you should actively look to include buildings in your landscape photographs. ...

Flower Power

Your brief here is to create a set of stunning flower photographs. Flowers are popular subjects, but are mostly shot in frame-filling close-up. Don't overlook their potential to provide colorful foreground interest in broad vistas. During spring and summer, flowers can be found growing in huge numbers at coastal cliff-tops, in woodlands, or as cultivated crops. ...

Into the Woods

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise! Woodland interiors are full of picture potential, and for this assignment you will need to visit a local wood in pursuit of photos. The appearance of woodland can vary tremendously depending on its age and size, and also the season. Ancient deciduous woodland will typically provide the best photo opportunities....

Stay Local

It's tempting to think that you have to travel a long way to shoot landscapes and that only epic vistas will translate into great shots; that a shot only has value if it has been hard to create and shooting close to home is somehow "cheating:' However, there are great landscapes everywhere, and you shouldn't overlook your local patch, even if it isn't home to snow-capped mountains, glaciers, or vast sand dunes. ...

Go Somewhere Famous

This is a challenging assignment and one that should really stretch your creativity. If you look at social media and through the pages of photographic magazines, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a set number of locations and viewpoints to shoot and very specific compositions you have to copy. It is perhaps a valid criticism that there is little new in landscape photography. ...

Road Trip

You don't need to invest lots of money in the best photography gear to shoot great landscape images. What you need is opportunity, and one of the best ways to get this is to go on a photography road trip. Revisiting the same places over and over can lead to overfamiliarity and complacency. So, if you suspect staleness in your work, look at a map and begin planning an adventure. ...

Make It Your Own

There is currently a lot of discussion over the question of originality in landscape photography. With ever-increasing numbers of images being presented online, some feel that there is a tendency for landscape photographers simply to travel from one well-known destination to another, doing little more than copy other people's work. ...

Be Spontaneous

Landscape photographers are encouraged to meticulously plan and prepare. Using a host of apps, they calculate the sun's precise position, view detailed weather graphs, and access up-to-the minute tide charts. Some apps even predict if there is likely to be a colorful sky or not. ...

Return to the Scene

No two photographs are exactly the same. You can stand in the same place, use the same camera set-up, and compose your image identically, but the result will still be different. The landscape is constantly changing. Each season will transform the landscape, while the time of day, light, and weather will dictate the mood. Your brief for this assignment is to photograph the same view at different times for an entire year, to capture how that view changes with each of the four seasons. ...

Go Long

Due to their stretched perspective, wide angle lenses are the obvious choice for photographing landscapes. But it is not healthy for your photography to grow over-reliant on any one lens. Therefore, for this assignment, you must only use a focal length of 200mm or longer. ...

Nifty Fifty

Unsurprisingly, zoom lenses are popular today and their versatility means they are the mainstay of many photographers' kit bags. However, zooms can also make photographers lazy when composing shots and it is important to learn when it is better to physically move the camera in order to create the best perspective or shooting angle....

Break the Rules

Rules abound in landscape photography and they are designed to help us create balanced compositions and achieve technical accuracy. Some of the better known include: the Rule of Thirds, which determines the placement of key compositional elements, such as the focal point and the horizon, by visualizing a grid of nine squares; the Golden Section....

Shoot Handheld

As a landscape enthusiast there is an assumption that you should always use a  tripod, and for most of the assignments in this book a tripod will either be helpful or essential. However, you don't always need a camera support and-on occasion-the speed and spontaneity of shooting handheld will be a more practical and creative choice. ...

Shoot Against the Light

A correct exposure is really one that records a scene or subject in the way the photographer intended. Once you have fully mastered exposure, you can then manipulate it creatively. One way to do this is to use exposure to create a silhouette of your subject, by using an extreme form of "contre jour;' or "against the light" photography, with the subject strongly backlit and recorded as a black outline, devoid of color or detail....

Go With the Flow

Many of us could probably spend hours simply gazing at crashing waves or tumbling waterfalls. The challenge with stills photography is how to convey a sense of motion in a single frame. The trend in recent years has been to use extreme ND filters to blur water to a silky texture, creating a calm, tranquil look. Although the results can be beautiful, they do not necessarily convey a sense of movement in the water. ...

Create a Panorama

Panoramic images have an enduring appeal, mainly because they most closely replicate our viewing experience when we look at a big vista: our eyes scan across the scene, taking it all in. The adoption of the widescreen format as standard for TV and movies has arguably boosted their popularity further in recent years. ...

Capture Contrasts

This assignment takes us back to one of the building blocks of composition: contrast. The importance of contrast was emphasized by the Bauhaus school of art, design, and architecture. The design instructor Johannes ltten felt that contrast was the basis for composition and he produced a list of contrasts, which included these pairs: ...

Get Close

Photographing the "intimate landscape" typically involves isolating just a few, select elements, rather than capturing an extensive view. This gives you the freedom to be less conventional and more creative. For this assignment, swap your wideangle lens for a short telephoto, and look closely for detail, texture, structure, shape, or form. ...

Cream of the Crop

The landscape is a diverse and varied place. It can be flat, hilly, mountainous, empty, or busy. Therefore, it is unrealistic to think your camera's native aspect ratio will suit every scene you shoot. Aspect ratio is the term used to describe the dimensions of an image by comparing its width and height....

Change the View

Most photographs are shot from head height, so one very effective way to catch the viewer's attention is to break with convention and shoot from a different viewpoint-creating a "worm's eye" view of the world, for instance. ...

Kind of Blue

This assignment is all about capturing the "blue hour" - the period of twilight in the morning and evening when the ambient light takes on a natural blue hue. The cool tones at this time lend an atmosphere of mystery and romance to the scene/ It's probably fair to say that cityscapes look their most attractive at this time. ...

Reflections

Most landscape photographers are instinctively drawn to water, with the sea, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes offering many opportunities for great images. Water can help imply motion, reflect light and colour, and create mirror-like reflections. A reflective surface can dramatically enhance a landscape image, particularly at sunrise or sunset when the colour in the sky is mirrored in the foreground....

People Power

More often than not, landscape photographs are devoid of people, presenting an image of the outdoors as an untouched wilderness. While such landscapes do exist, the majority of the locations we visit are actually quite busy. So we often wait for long periods for people to leave the view, or alternatively we clone them out of the shot in post-processing....

Shoot a Sunset

Who can resist a sunset? It's the day's grand finale, and with the right conditions the rich colours and dramatic lighting combine to create potentially stunning images. Shooting a sunset might sound like a simple assignment. However, there's more to it then simply being in the right place at the right time....

Rise and Shine

The most photogenic light typically occurs at daybreak and sunset, the so-called 'golden hours'. Therefore, if you want to capture quality landscapes that ooze with mood, set your alarm early. During spring and summer, this can require getting up painfully early. However, you will typically find locations are quiet - for example, sandy beaches will be free of footprints and no-one will get in the way of your shots....

Keep It Simple

Excluding distractions and keeping compositions as simple and straightforward as possible is always good practice in photography - it is easier to create order and a sense of structure with only the bare essentials in the frame....

Colour Combinations

Most landscape photographers use colours instinctively and to a large extent we are restricted in that we can't really choose colours - we have to shoot what's in front of is. However, there is some room for manoeuvre, in that we are able to frame compositions selectively and can seek out particular colour combinations. It's therefore worth getting to grips with basic colour theory before embarking on this assignment....

Frame Work

A useful device in creating a harmonious image is using a 'frame within a frame', where you use a natural frame such as overhanging branches or an archway, to emphasise the focal point of your image. This technique keeps compositions tight, naturally directs attention toward the subject and can help enhance depth in the image by separating the foreground and background. ...

Lead-in Lines

Our eyes are designed to locate and follow lines, whether they are natural or artificial, leading us instinctively to explore the scene in an image. A lead-in line is a simple visual trick that takes advantage of this to draw and direct the viewer's gaze into the frame....

To the Fore

The essence of composition is to select elements from the scene in front of you and organise them in the image frame in a harmonious way. It is important to direct the attention of the viewer of your image into the frame and towards the main subject, or, with a landscape image (which may not have a 'subject' as such) to the focal point of the composition....