Landscape Photography - Improving Composition - Four Questions To Ask Yourself

September 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Landscape Photography - Improving Composition - Four Questions To Ask Yourself

This tip is about improving compositions in landscape photography.

Unfortunately a great scene or view is not necessarily going to make a good image. Even if the light is beautiful the composition needs to be carefully thought about if you want to get a really great image.

It's really easy to roll up to a scene, see what looks like a good shot, set up, and take the image, and maybe it will work. In reality, the chances are that the image will not be the best you could have managed unless some care and time is taken over getting the composition right.

When setting up a composition there are four questions that I always ask myself before I take the shot. These four questions help me get more successful images and less disappointing ones.

I will also mention that this approach is why I almost always shoot on a tripod. Not only does the tripod slow me down but it also helps me make very fins adjustments to my composition and then lock it in EXACTLY as I want it.

So... on to the questions.

Question One - What Do I Like About This?

OK, it may seem obvious but it's important to understand exactly what it is about the scene that appeals to you, because that is your focal point, it's the point that you want people to look at in the finished image. To do that you have to consider what is going to draw the viewers eye to it. Is it going to be big and prominent in the frame? Is it going to be picked out by the light? Is the viewers eye going to be taken there by leading lines in the frame.

Question Two - What Don't I Like About This?

A careful look at the scene that you're going to capture should identify anything that detracts from the image or anything that distracts from the main interest. It could be a big area of dead space, a tree branch coming in from the side of the frame, some rough looking undergrowth in the mid ground. Whatever it is you want to try to find a way to get rid of it. 

That could mean just moving your position by a small amount. Shifting a bit towards one side or the other, raising or lowering the point of view or moving close or further away. For distractions coming in from the edges of the frame you can also consider if cropping to a different format is the way to go and then compose the image so that you have the best space available to do that.

Question Three - What Extra Does It Need?

Sometimes an image looks great but it just needs something extra. It could be that it needs some foreground interest to anchor it, or it could be that it needs a leading line. If so it's worth spending a bit of time looking around to see if you can find a better view that will let you include it. 

What's important here is that, once you find a point of view that let's you get that extra something you then need to go back to questions one and two to make sure that you still have the interest on that part of the scene that you find most appealing and that there are no new elements that distract or distract.

Of course, sometimes what it needs is better conditions, some nice clouds, great light, or maybe a beautiful setting sun. In which case you may want to consider coming back another time, if that's an option.

Now you're ready to take the shot.

So, what's Question Four?

Question Four - What Else?

Once you have the composition the way you want it, and you have that shot in camera, take another look at the scene, particularly at that part of the scene that appeals to you the most. 

Divide it up into sections in your mind and look at what other compositions might exist within the image that you've just taken. Maybe put on a long lens and look through it (either with the viewfinder or with the live view screen)as you move the field of view over the scene and see what details come out. Sometimes this can result in another completely different composition, sometimes more than one.

Once you've identified another potential shot, get set up and.... you guessed it, go back to Question One

That's it. I hope you find this interesting

Don't forget that I produce (mostly) Landscape Photography videos twice a week that are a mix of exploration, hopefully some inspiration, with just a touch of tutorial thrown in now and again. 

My youtube channel is HERE

I'll be back (in writing) at the start of October with my roundup of what happened during September in my Life And Landscape Photography post

I hope you'll join me then



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