The key to an amazing landscape photo is to make your viewer feel an instant connection to your image, whether that’s a feeling of wonder, shock, or something else altogether. [Article courtesy of Sony]
It’s easy for us, as photographers, to take a lovely shot of an amazing and recognisable location, but it’s something quite different to take a shot of a very ordinary location that becomes extraordinary because of the photographer’s eye.
Creating an image that is multi-dimensional is one way to ensure your viewer’s attention is held. Think about whether you have included foreground interest or used other compositional techniques like leading lines, framing and symmetry, or objects that are at different depths of fields within your image to add more dimension. Try shooting from down low or from high rather than just at head height.
Sony’s Demand Creation Manager, Sean Ellwood says, “most Sony cameras have a ‘Grid Line’ setting that can be a helpful tool for visualising your composition. The ‘Grid Line’ setting allows you to select from Rule of 3rds, a Square Grid for horizons and verticals, or a Diagonal + Square Grid that helps visualise leading lines”.
Light it up
There are scenes in nature that naturally demand our attention at any time of the day for their grandeur and beauty. But choosing the right moment to shoot these subjects can make all the difference. The light during the middle of the day tends to be harsh and flat, especially in wide landscape scenes, whereas shooting early or late in the day provides opportunities for light and shadow to bring more depth to your subject, as well as a tendency for a richer contrast of tones especially if your image contains sky elements.
Work that lens
It’s a commonly accepted fact that our eyes naturally see the world at focal lengths similar to shooting 35-50mm on a full-frame camera, so have a go shooting outside of these lengths to make your image appear differently to how it would from our natural eye. Shooting at wide angles between 10-20mm enables you to portray a sense of the vastness of the landscape that demands to be taken in, while compressing distant scenes with a zoom lens of 100mm or longer is an effective way to bring a heightened sense of the immense scale that exists within a landscape.
“The Sony 16-35mm lenses are always well represented in the Landscape category – both the f/2.8 GM, and the smaller f/4 Zeiss. In saying this, we have also been seeing more photographers using telephoto landscapes, with the 100-400mm GM being used more and more in high-quality landscape submissions, both in and out of the Sony Alpha Awards”, said Sean Ellwood.
Crop to concentrate
Award-winning images combine a strong or unusual composition with interesting lighting to great effect without any distractions allowing the viewer to hone in on the main subject. Don’t be afraid to crop your image or remove distractions that draw the viewer’s eye away or cause it to wander – even if that means your final image is a smaller portion of the scene than what you originally shot.
“When it comes to the Sony A7R series, one of the big drawcards is the cropping power, with the flexibility to tweak framing after the fact being invaluable. For the Sony Alpha Awards, we start to think about printability once images drop below the 12MP mark. On a 24MP camera, that gives you around a 1.4x crop, but on a Sony Alpha R series camera, you get considerably more latitude, with more than a 2x crop for the A7RM4”, said Sean Ellwood.
A sense of mystery
Images that keep our attention the longest are often not the ones where the whole scene is well explained, leaving nothing to the imagination. Images where elements are hidden or unusual cause the viewer to pause and engage with your image as they try to work out what they are seeing. Using natural elements like fog and cloud or shooting a bird’s eye view are great ways to help create a sense of mystery. Ultimately, the longer a viewer engages with the scene the more likely they are to feel a strong connection to your image.
Article by Meghan Maloney, Sony Alpha Awards 2020 Landscape Judge