Where do you start?

Over the last 2-3 months, I have been asked by several people to help them with their various photography questions, relating to gear or how to get a certain look. I thought I'd take some time, here on the blog, to cover some of the questions that I get asked more often. 

I'm no Ansel Adams, Scott Kelby, or Sue Bryce... I'm basically a mom with a camera who has been passionate about photographer for like, ever, and who decided to be brave and make a business out of what she loves to do. I do some photography well. I'm also a good teacher. So why not share some information with those of you who want to know? I'm not planning on writing a book for each topic, just a few pointers I might give you if we were out shooting together. And please, if you have questions regarding any type of photography or gear, ask away. I might not be able to tell you much, but you get full access to my brain. 

So I put a bunch of topics (that I've been asked about) into a hat and drew out LANDSCAPE. So we're starting w/ Landscape Photography. 

Landscape photography typically shows wide-open spaces in our world. Most of the landscape photos we see focus on nature. Landscapes are not restricted to nature, but can highlight several other views - including man-made objects. Landscapes can show us forests and deserts, mountains and valleys. 

Look at a landscape photo on Flickr or in a National Geographic magazine. What do you notice first? Light? Color? The beauty of the scape? What you will also notice, but maybe not realize is everything is in focus from close-up to far away.  

Desertbloom Photography (2 of 10).jpg

Not a strong example of a great landscape, but you can see everything is sharp from close to far away. This is because I set my aperture to a higher #, which actually means my lens is opening up just a tiny bit. I shot this @ f/16.  

One 'rule' of landscape photography is that the horizon line should never go in the middle of your frame. It should lie in the bottom 1/3 line or top 2/3 line of the frame. Look above, and imagine dividing this photo into 3's, horizontally, then place the horizon line accordingly.  And you can see how I did not do that in the above photo. Here's one where I did. 

If I'm shooting for a client or to be published in a magazine, then I'd pay more attention to the horizon line. If I'm shooting for myself... I put it wherever I want. Know the rules first, then break the rules.  Sometimes you just gotta grab the shot as it is, before the view disappears.

Composition is an important element in landscape photography. We see a beautiful sight, and we snap a photo, but it doesn't look amazing on the back of our camera. Not as pretty as we see with our eyes. This is where elements of composition come in. Something is needed to help draw the viewer's eye into the photograph. Elements like leading lines or a strong foreground come into play.

My eyes see lines. I can't help it... call it a curse if you must, but that's what I see.  Used well, they can draw the viewer's eye into the picture. Here's an example.  The fence line begins on the front left of the photo and the fence leads our eye to the middle. The curve of the road takes our eyes back right to the treeline which leads us to the mountain peaks. Movement. 

Another element in landscape composition is to have a strong foreground... something in the front third of the photo to grab the viewer's eye. This item should be in focus most times, when it's not it is for artistic purposes. Here are examples of one w/out the strong foreground and one with. 

Desertbloom Photography (4 of 10).jpg

It's an okay photo but nothing to write home about. 

The yellow grass and wildflowers grab out attention and our eyes look up and back to take in the rest of the photo naturally. 

 2 other questions regarding landscape photography. First is what lens do I use and secondly, where do I focus?  You can really use any lens you have for landscape photography. I prefer an wide to ultra-wide angle, such as the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-120mm f/4.  Having a fast lens (aperture 1.2-2.8 for example) is not necessary for landscape as you'll be shooting with f/stops in the 2 digit range, so a 16-35mm f/4 or 24-120mm f/4 is fine. I've seen beautiful landscapes taken with a 70-200mm zoom lens. This lens will offer some nice compression in your shot. Now where to focus in your frame. I've read to and practice focusing about 1/3 into my frame. It works for me. 

The final aspect of landscape photography (I thought i wasn't writing a book) is whether or not to use a tripod. I've used them and I've not used them. The more I advance into photography and my skills increase, the more I use it. I am able to visualize a shot and realize what I need to capture it. Sometimes, I need that tripod, especially if I'm bracketing.

So that's it. I hope you're able to pull out a nugget or two of useful information. Please let me know if you 1) enjoyed this post 2) learned anything new from it 3) have any questions! 


Here's a little about me & photography.....I offer clean, classic photography for my clients, with a twist of authentic lifestyle! I specialize in senior and family photography. I love macro and landscape for personal projects.