Focus on Travel Photography

The Natural World Landscape Mountain Scenery: Scale Mountain Scenery: Lighting Tropical Beaches Rocky Shorelines In the Desert Canyons Rain Forests and the Tropics Rivers and Waterfalls Autumn Foliage Under the Sea Caves and Caverns Animals on Their Own Panoramas
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In the hands of a creative photographer, an artful landscape can be made of any subject, be it a New England farm or an Inca ruin. Landscapes are simply photographs that describe an outdoor place.

The natural inclination when photographing such places is to put on a wide-angle lens or use a wide-angle zoom setting, and randomly take in as much of a vista as possible, assuming that the beauty or intrigue of a place will carry the photograph. Usually it won't. While a wide-angle lens can be a real blessing, it is often better to use a telephoto lens to isolate an interesting portion of a scene. In either case, you must find a way to organize and present your landscapes with as little excess baggage as possible.

Try to think of a landscape photo as being like a short story that has a beginning (the foreground), a middle (the middle ground), and an end (the background). In a farm scene, for example, you could use an old wagon as the foreground, a winding dirt road as the middle ground, and a bright red barn as the background. A farmer leading a horse up the road can stand in as your main character. Very few landscapes will be so neatly arranged at first glance, so your main chore is finding a vantage point that translates to the viewer what it was that attracted your eye to the scene.

A landscape should also capture the spirit of a place. Before you even raise a lens to the scene, ask yourself what it is about it that appeals to you emotionally. Is it the yellow morning light glowing through the fields of hay? The color, direction, quality, and intensity of light all have a profound effect on landscapes. Or is it the evening mist rising off the river? Weather can work wonders with even the most common scenes.

Next: "Mountain Scenery: Scale"