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A number of basic requirements must be met to produce high-quality typical landscape images. Clearly not all are relevant to every image, but the principles listed below represent general good practice.

  • Try to compose a landscape so that the viewer's eye has a path to follow in to the image - perhaps to some centre of interest or area of natural focus.
  • Give an image depth by including in the composition elements of foreground, middleground and background.
  • Try to retain scale in an image by incorporating elements of known size - particularly in the foreground.
  • Consider using a natural frame, perhaps provided by overhanging vegetation, to lead the eye in to the image and soften the hard edges of the frame.
  • Use a tripod where possible to ensure that the image is sharp. This also makes possible the use of a slow shutter speed and hence a small aperture - which maximizes depth of field.
  • Control the depth of field so that all elements of the image remain acceptably sharp - or at least those areas of particular interest.
  • Use a slow shutter speed to allow motion blur where this is appropriate. When wind is moving grass or trees, be aware that these may become blurred should the shutter speed fall too low.
  • Cover the eyepiece of the viewfinder when it is not in used during the exposure period, for example, when a remote release is employed. This prevents light entering the eyepiece and producing an incorrect exposure.
  • Use a miniature spirit level, or the built-in equivalent in a digital camera, to ensure that the horizon within the image is maintained horizontal.
  • Consider whether the so-called rule of thirds offers an appropriate way to divide the area of the image. Although this is often the case, it is not always so.
  • Look for the best lighting and time of day for the shot. The first and last hours of daylight often provide the most photogenic light. Low sun angles produce interesting shadows and the light is normally warmer at these gentle times of day.
  • Capture dramatic lighting wherever it is found. Dark storm clouds and patches of sunlit colour offer wonderful opportunities.
  • Don't put the camera away because rain falls. Rain may add an interesting element to a landscape.
  • Remain aware of man-made objects such as power lines and utility poles. Although these do not have to be eliminated to achieve good landscapes, they are often a negative factor.
  • Search for natural lines, shapes and forms in a scene, and try to use them to best advantage. They may be used to lead a viewer's eye to a centre of interest or particular area of an image.
  • Consider the overall shape, or aspect ratio, of the image area. Some cameras provide a choice of image shapes varying from square to panoramic. Be sure to select the most appropriate option.
  • Consider the distribution of strong colours in a scene. Such areas form shapes in their own right and have a significant effect upon composition.
  • Try using an ND grad filter to reduce overall contrast and enhance sky detail.
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