This Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) theme is #21 Landscapes and will be open through May 24, 2016. See original post by clicking here.
Announcement: For the summer, I will only be posting this challenge on the 4th week of the month. This challenge takes me about three days to put together and the summer months usually has a lot less viewers because we are off on vacations and visiting our families. I thought having this challenge once a month through September will give me a break and less hassle for everyone else to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s an 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.
- #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