Pretty much every landscape ever photographed has a feature, subject, or detail that makes it different from any other that’s been shot. Occasionally these unique features stand out from the rest in the field, but often it’s a challenge to find the details that set one view apart from the next.
If you’re just standing at the top of a mountain and clicking away at the view, there may be some slight difference between the images, but the overall effect of each will be quite similar. Adding some foreground details into the composition adds both character and a freshness to a photo. Details in a scene may be permanent, or features that change by the minute, hour, day, or seasons.
The first step is to recognise these unique features, and the second is to incorporate them. A practised eye will tend to pick them out right away. Look for flowers, puddles, rock formations, spider webs, unusual clouds, and tree shapes—anything that could add a unique feel to the composition. If nothing pops out at you, before moving on take a moment to think ‘What is it that attracts my eye to this view?’ Close one eye so you see details the same way the camera does, then check the view from different heights and angles. Physically walk around and make a note of anything interesting.
If there are small details in the foreground, wider angle focal lengths and hyperfocal settings may be needed to set up the composition. Sometimes you may find that what evokes the unique feel of a scene comes from subject details in the distance that are best captured with a telephoto focal length.
The more you practice looking for unique features, the easier it is to see them. It may be something as simple as a flower, or as complex as a combination of subject details, lines, and textures. Looking for the unique will create impact and add a personal touch to every photo you shoot.
101 Top Tips for Landscape Photography is where professional landscape guru Carl Heilman II gives the benefit of a lifetime spent shooting spectacular wilderness and mountain shots, offering a host of targeted tips and tricks that will allow photographers of all abilities to lift their landscape work to the next level. The reader will learn how to harness natural drama, use difficult lighting situations to your advantage and capture unusual perspectives, all the while benefiting from Carl’s clear instruction and beautiful landscape work.