How to Make Scenic Photographs
How many times you've tried to capture a scenic landscape but on coming home found that the pictures made fail to portray all the beauty and charm that you got impressed with at the time you first saw the view. The pictures turn out boring and unable to evoke those strong feelings and emotions you experienced then.
The problem is that when you see a landscape, your eyes glide over it and spot various beautiful elements. While the person's field of vision can encompass the sweeping view the human eyes and brains focuses only on the details that we loved most. Unfortunately camera lenses and sensors can't do this automatically and they need human guidance.
To ensure you make breathtakingly beautiful landscape photos you need time. Once you spotted the beautiful place you want to portray spend some time driving around in search of different vantage points. You will need a compass to know where the sun will rise and set, so you could visualize how the setting would look in different light. You should also take into account the area that is not lit by day light. For instance, if you want to take a picture of a canyon, you may notice that its western part will be brightly lit in the early morning, but its eastern wall will be in the shadow. So you might decide whether you take a picture from a different angle, shoot it later in the day, or return on an overcast day when both sides of the canyon will be clearly seen.
If there is some water flowing through the landscape you want to shoot, consider the character of the stream and think how you can reflect it in the image. A slow river won't look like a rapidly moving murmuring mountain stream. Think whether you want the water to play the central role in your composition or serve as its beautiful detail.
Also consider how you are going to use reflections in the water. Some reflections may accentuate the image while others can just distract from it. Consider looking at them from different angles to find the one that suits your needs best. A polarizing filter in your camera will help reduce some of the reflection and add contrast so you will need to rotate it until you achieve the desired effect.
When you photograph the forest first consider whether you want it look dark and gloomy or light and airy. Focus on something interesting like a tree trunk of unusual shape or a winding path. Shafts of light slashing the canopy or a clearing in the woods directly lit by the sun always make good pictures.
Make sure you find some unusual compositional elements and shoot with both wide and telephoto lenses. If you want trees to float in the air you need to use a wide lens. A telephoto lens will make trees look compressed. Search for the best image changing your position. You may sprawls on the ground and shoot up through the branches or climb a tree for a view down the path.
Plains and Prairies
It is very difficult to make beautiful pictures of vast open areas like plains and prairies because they rarely feature some points of interest. Still, apart from seeing a sweeping scene, viewers need some object to focus on. The best strategy is to find something peculiar to that place, such as a path, a stream, or a fence line, and use it as a point of interest.
As with the forest, try to reveal the personality of the place. Take your time to find an angle and composition that reveals it best. The sky may be a central part of the landscape. Experienced photographers use the rule of thirds. If the sky is beautiful and you want to emphasize it on the picture, let the horizon occupy the bottom third part of the frame. Otherwise, it should be placed along the upper third.
Think how you could depict the pristine beauty of the desert. You can shoot sand waves caused by the heat. Consider using a long lens to compress them for a truly dramatic effect. Stars look extra bright and shiny in the deserts so make sure you shoot them if you can. Also you may play with the color of the sand that changed during the day. When shooting deserts you may not only make wide shots but also experiment with close-ups like plants growing on dunes.
Consider including the sun in your picture to show how hot it is outside. But shooting the sun is rather challenging. If you try to shoot it on a sunny day, your camera's meter is likely to underexpose other objects in the frame. The best solution to the problem is shooting in manual mode. Or you may take a reading with no sun in frame, first depressing the shutter button halfway to hold the exposure, and after that reframing before you actually shoot. If you have a digital camera, opt for wide-angle lenses as the sun takes up less of the image, but keep in mind that they are susceptible to lens flare. If you shoot with SLRs you will see the flare when you frame the image.
Every seacoast is unique so your photos of the shoreline should reflect the nature and character of it. Ask yourself what makes this place stand out and try to convey it on your photograph. Look for the vantage point that offers the best view of the area and think about the composition before shooting. You also need some details that will accentuate the feeling you want to evoke. For example, towering palm trees serve as an excellent frame for a tropical beach while white capped waves rolling onto the rocks add drama to a rugged coastal shoreline. When shooting the sand on a windy day make sure you protect your camera and lenses from it. Avoid opening the camera back unless you are in an area well protected from the sand.
When you photograph picturesque mountains consider what feelings you want to convey and what elements can reinforce it. Think about composition, light and angle that will work best to portray the view. It would be great if you find some telling detail that will help you impart the spirit of the mountains.