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Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: #21 Landscapes

This Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) Theme is #21 Landscapes and will be open through May 10, 2016.

5-gold-starsFor your assignment I would like to see at least 4-6 photos showing various compositional rules. Please tell us what rules you used in your photos.

Each week I will select several features from everyone who submits an entry.  And from those posts that I feature, I will grant one blogger the Gold Star Award.  To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Features Week #20 Review and Practice.


Those of you who follow me regularly know that I’m all about the flowers, but every now and then I like to look up and see the bigger world around me.  Here in Oregon there is so much beauty to enjoy:  rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, massive trees, and orchards.  So I thought I’d share some of what I have learned about taking landscape photographs.

Keep your horizon level.  We talked about this during our composition classes, but unless you want to give someone a headache or a queasy stomach, always level out your horizon.  There are a lot of free applications out there that will help you with that.

Show perspective.  Chris and I went to the Grand Canyon once and were really disappointed. It was a drizzly kind of a day, which flattened out everything we were looking at.  There wasn’t anything in our line of sight to give us perspective, or depth to what we were seeing.  It didn’t look like anything interesting.  I know that sounds plain crazy, but when what you are looking at is so immense, if you don’t have a frame of reference, your brain just yawns and looks for something else to entertain it.

Here’s an example.  What dominates the picture is Oregon’s Mount Hood.  It’s pretty big, standing 11,249 ft (3,429 m) high.  I could have just taken a shot of the peak itself, and that would have been impressive, but if you want to really understand how big it is, you just look at the bottom of the picture.  You can see trucks, cars and a building that give you perspective so that when your eyes travel up, your brain does the math and gets impressed.


Mt. Hood, Oregon from Hwy 30.

Here’s another shot of the same mountain, but from a different perspective.  I’m zooming in on it.  You see a hazelnut orchard in the foreground, so you have the height of the trees to give you a sense of dimension (except for that lone redwood popping up on the right had side).  The trees and the mountain are farther away from me, but the fact that the mountain is snow-covered and the foreground is lush and green, tells it’s own story.


Mt Hood and Hazelnut Orchard in Oregon east of Woodburn.

One more:  In this shot, you have the flowers at the bottom and all the fence posts to give you an idea of the size of the trees.

Near Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon.

Near Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon.

The same idea works for ocean shots, too.  In this shot, I used the boulder outcropping to frame the shot.  Your eye zings through the opening, follows the crests of the waves and then hits the coastal mountains at the top of the picture, but it’s the houses on the coast in the middle of the right edge that gives you an idea of the scope of the scene.

Near Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, Oregon.

Near Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, Oregon.

Here’s a picture that illustrates the width of the Columbia River.  The barge in the foreground is massive, leading your eye up to the bridge that snakes on almost forever until it reaches the opposite shore.

This is an interesting photo because it has two leading lines, the ship and the bridge. Because of these leading lines, it creates a lot of shares and rectangles. This photo is basically all blue and white which are cooler colors.

Astoria, Oregon.

Fog:  I’m sure there is a whole science to shooting in fog, but I’m not going into that here.  I just want to show you how fog can add perspective and dimension to a landscape.  Here is a picture of the Columbia River Gorge, where the Columbia River heads from the Pacific Ocean back into the interior of the United States.  I took this on a foggy, still day, and I think that the fog gives an added dimension to the gorge.

View from Vista House along the Old Columbia Gorge Highway.

View from Vista House along the Old Columbia Gorge Highway.

Here’s a ordinary shot.  Nothing spectacular.  A country road with some telephone poles and fence posts, but I think the little fog shrouding the hills makes everything look a little more intriguing.

Oregon countryside near Siletz, Oregon.

Oregon countryside near Siletz, Oregon.

Upcoming Challenges

  • #22 Guide the Viewer and Flipping Photos (starts 4th Wednesday of May)
  • #23 Brightest Spot (starts 4th Wednesday of June)
  • #24 Balance (starts 4th Wednesday of August)

Qi (energy) hugs


44 replies »

  1. These are wonderful. I love the perspective you offer in your first photo. We don’t have massive mountains like that around here. Are mountains are all old and bent down.


  2. This was very instructive. You’re good at making things more understandable. I forget to include items in the foreground and my horizon lines are always wonky. I don’t shoot landscape stuff often enough, and this makes me want to get back out there and shoot.


  3. Reading this post, I had a lightbulb moment. Get something in the frame to show perspective! Now I know why so many of my landscape photos have been boring. I love your two different perspectives on Mt Hood.


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