maandag 5 augustus 2013

Blog 5: Landscape photography

Blog 5: Tips and tricks for landscape photography.

Hello again, and welcome to our fifth blog entry. This time I would like to shed some light on challenges you might encounter when practicing landscape photography. Landscape photography might seem like an easy practice. The landscape is there, it doesn’t move, it isn’t on a tight schedule and you can take all the time in the world to set up your camera for that perfect shot. You press the shutter and *click* the scenery doesn’t look anything like its real counterpart. So what is it that makes landscape photography so difficult?

3D vs 2D vs depth

First of all, always remember that the world is built in 3D (x, y and z axis) and your photo is a 2D reconstruction of that world (only x and y axis).

Picture 1: 3D vs 2D

A mountain might seem incredibly vast and intimidating in real life, but make a picture of it and it seems flat. That is because there is no z axis! In order to create a sense of distance in our photos, and to bring back a visual rendition of the z-axis, it is really important to not only focus on the background, but on the foreground as well.

In this example (photo 1), the photographer took a small part of the beach and some rocks as a reference point for viewers. This creates a virtual z-axis for the viewer. You get a sense of depth in the photo.

Photo 1: foreground in landscape photography.

Now if you place your fingers over the big rocks (do it!) and look at the right side of the photo, you will lose the z axis and with that the sense of depth.

Photo 2 is a good example of another problem with landscape photography.

Photo 2: angle of the photo is important

In this photo, I have created a sense of depth by adding something in the foreground. However, the viewer has no idea how high that waterfall is (and it was pretty high). The problem with this photo is its angle. This photo was taken high off the ground. If you want to express the vastness of something, you can do two things. First, you can shift the angle and lower your camera. This works well for any photo. However, it is not always possible to reach the ground (as in this example).

 The second thing you can do to improve the sense of vastness is to add an object as a reference point, preferably one that is common to most people (like more people!). Photo 3 is a good example.

Photo 3: better angle, still no reference point

This is the same lake as in Photo 1, only taken at a different time of day and from a different angle. You get a better view of the lake and how vast it is. The dark line at the right side of the photo creates our Z axis. However, you still don’t get a sense of the vastness of the mountains (because of the high angle).

 To do this, I have waited for some reference points to appear. In this case, humans.

 Photo 4: Better angle and a reference point.

Photo 4 is the same as photo 3, only this time I have not edited out the reference points for our viewers. There is a man on the lake, standing on a boat, rowing towards the right. This immediately creates a sense of vastness because everybody knows the real size of a human being (well on average anyway).
There are two more subjects I want to discuss in this blog. The first one is the horizon. There is nothing more destructive for a landscape photo then a sloping horizon. Take some time to adjust your camera correctly. There are all sorts of handy accessories to ease this process. If, by chance, you happen to have a sloping horizon, despite all your efforts to prevent it, straighten it out using software. There is a photoshop manual on my website that tells you how to in a few easy steps (

The last subject is the time of day. The light of the sun follows a distinctive patern during the day, use it! When the sun comes up, there is what photographers call “the blue hour”. It is one hour from the first rays of light. You can still see that it is night, the world will be dark, but the sky will light up nicely in your photos. After the blue hour comes the golden hour. It is the time of day where your subject basks in warm light. After the golden hour, the light becomes more bright and white, reaching its peak around 13:00 hours. Then the sun starts to set again. During sunset you first get the golden hour and after that another blue hour. It is best to practice landscape photography during the blue or golden hour! Remember this cycle:

Ofcourse it changes when you are in a forest or if it is cloudy.

Short summary:

- keep the horizon straight
- photograph when the light allows it
- check not only background but foreground as well
- check angles and axis

Well this was my fifth blog entry. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it. If you have any questions, please ask me ( For more photo’s and blogs you can check I am also on facebook and twitter (see website for links) if you want to follow my work or this blog.

Thank you!

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