Four Composition Techniques to Try for Better Landscape Photos


If you’re interested in photographing landscapes, you should know there are multiple ways to make your images more interesting – some that only require a bit of imagination. In this 26-minute video, Canadian film photographer Kyle McDougall covers four techniques he uses to make his landscape images better.

The first in a two-part series, McDougall looks at images from his collection and explains what he likes about them and how he constructed the images using a particular technique. Below are the four techniques he suggests to improve your landscape photos.

Organization and Detail: McDougall says composing a scene is “like taming the chaos of the real world.” He says that it’s about taking all the elements in a scene, deciding what you want, and organizing them into a flow. So while you obviously cannot move objects in a landscape, you have to move yourself and your perspective. Make sure objects are not cutting each other off or overlapping, for example.

Creative Framing: Creative framing involves what McDougal calls building a “frame within a frame.” That is to say, using the environment to frame images. Keep an eye out for shadows, as he says that “changes in tone form different shapes in your images.” Further, using framing can add depth and layers to your images. McDougal pays attention to lines that can divide the image, framing other elements, and drawing the eye.

Light and Shadow: Light and shadow create lines and can reveal other elements. In some cases, lighting adds interest where there would be none in their absence. You may want to wait for light to reach certain points before capturing an image or other times you might just get lucky with how light falls in unexpected ways. “You can pick a specific point to use it to add to the composition in a unique way,” he says.

Rule of Thirds: This should not be an unfamiliar technique, but McDougall says he will use natural occurrences of boundaries created by the scene to break his images into thirds. Doing this can be a combination of the three techniques above and using them all in different and interchangeable ways. “If you look close enough, there is always potential,” he explains.

You can learn more about McDougal and his photography on his Instagram, website, and podcast.

What do you think of McDougall’s techniques? Do you have any others you use in your photography? Let us know in the comments.

(Via ISO 1200)

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