Effective composition is one of the main factors in achiving great images. You don't need to have the most expensive camera gear, or even be a wizard on the computer. But there are several 'rules' that you can follow which will help you to identify and capture photographs with strong compositions. Here are some of my compositional tips:
First things first -- I had to switch my camera off aperture priority mode (which I usually use, my safety net) and tackle the full manual controls. Similarly, I would have to make sure that I was shooting in Raw, rather than just jpeg. When you shoot in Raw the camera captures far more data, meaning that when it comes around to post-processing there's far more for you to play about with. This is particularly useful in landscape photography if you're trying to rescue detail from an overexposed sky.
Challange yourself, decide on a theme and take a series of photos that reflect that theme. Preferably it would be something abstract like a shape or a colour, but the idea is that it will give you focus and direction and you will likely take better photos as a result.
Never turns up at a location without knowing what it is you want to photo and capture. This enables you to react to what you find spontaneously. "Lots of landscape photography is light dependent, so remember a moment can come and go in a flash. In the real world, you'll be working with a wide range of subjects and scenes, and this requires an even more open-minded approach. What works for one photo won't necessarily work for another.
- Keep the composition simple
- Rule of Thirds
- Work in Odd Numbers
- Use Lead-in lines
- Foreground, Middle and Background
- Don’t over dominate the foreground
- Look for unwanted items
- Go Low or high
- Use a small aperture
- Ignore all the above
Remove as many unnecessary objects as possible.
Place the horizon on the first or second horizontal line.
Odd numbers are always very effective in photography.
Draw the viewers eye from the foreground towards the background.
Try to feature a subject in each of these places but remember they need to work together in harmony.
A wide angle lens helps to accentuate foreground and create shots full of impact.
Look carefully through the viewfinder for any unwanted items.
Often compositions can be improved dramatically by setting your tripod nearer to the ground.
A small aperture (F16 – F22) will allow you to capture the full depth.
All the above tips are just a guide. Rules are there to be broken.
Don't stick rigidly to composition "rules" -- photographic composition is about visual balance, proportion, simplicity and individuality. So don't just go to well known viewpoints and locations to take your landscape pictures. Explore with your camera and create your unique images.